Opportunities for young social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship is something like the Wild West. It’s this open frontier of emerging possibilities that is so new that there are very few direct paths in place. If you want to design your own unique models for addressing social problems, you just have to cobble together resources and people, and experiences in your own haphazard and unpredictable way. Below is a short list of fellowships, programs, and networks that emerging social entrepreneurs should consider when pursuing their goals. As I continue to do more research on what’s out there, I’ll hopefully be able to add to the list!

Global Citizen Year (high school students) : This program is geared towards high school students who want to make a difference. It places high school graduates in service opportunities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America for a year between high school and college. The intense exposure to different cultures, languages, and problems in various global contexts influences their path and work in college. If you are a college student and want to work with Global Citizen Year, you should check out some of the job opportunities there.

Kiva Fellows: This is a program for individuals who are 21 or older that gives participants a firsthand view of how microfinance works on the ground. The Fellows are placed with one of kiva’s microfinance organizations and spend 10 weeks interviewing and surveying microfinance users.

think impact: Awesome program that places college students and recent graduates in Kenya or South Africa for 12 weeks where interns get to work with community leaders and assess existing social enterprises in the region. The intern participants can then apply to be fellows and raise money to build their own social enterprises in the community they lived in.

Starting bloc– Another network that connects young leaders who are starting their own organizations or businesses. Like Ashoka, it provides a network of resources and support that help propel the project forward. However they have an emphasis on younger leaders.

Echoing Green : Organization that provide both networks and seed funding for new social enterprises. Great organization to look into if you’re also interested in a financial boost behind your work.

Unreasonable Institute This organization has a rigorous selection process for choosing their 25 fellows who are young social entrepreneurs. For 10 weeks the entrepreneurs incubate their ideas with their innovative peers and experts from various fields. They are then given the opportunity to present their idea to Social Investors and Philanthropists at the end of the training period. This is also really nice for comapnies that just started and are reallyl trying to get off the ground.

Ashoka Fellows : Ashoka is a leading organization that supports and forges meaningful partnerships with social entrepreneurs throughout the world. If you have an innovative social business running, then you should apply to be an Ashoka fellow and be part of this supportive and influential network. If like me, you’re just looking for opportunities to learn about the field, check out Ashoka Internship

SASE skoll: The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship are more your cup of tea for more mature organizations. They are positioned to fund organizations that have proven to be sustainable and are ready to be scaled up and expand. If you’re ready to take your enterprise to the next level, Skoll may be a good resource for you.

Climate Corps: For my environmentally friendly MBA kids, you can apply to be part of Climate Corps, an internship that will teach you how to evaluate and help improve the sustainable practices of a global company. It requires that you become a member of Net Impact, but that’s also a great organization for students who are committed to blending business and values.

New Sector : This is a consulting firm that is dedicated to building the leadership capacity and effectiveness of social enterprises throughout the country. They have a number of really interesting opportunities for undergrads and young professionals that give you insight into how to maximize the potential of social impact organizations.

I think the newness of this movement in social enterprise can make it challenging to find your place in it, but there are organizations out there to provide support, networks, experience, and money to people who want to make things happen. So continue to pursue the work you were meant to do and seek out resources like those listed above to help you get there. 🙂


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