By 2011, The Unreasonable Institute’s approach to training social enterprise founders on growth through a six-week program had been capturing attention, including that of the New York Times. Over the years, their curriculum that started in Boulder, Colo., has more than a proven record. Their program graduates see average revenue growth that’s sixfold within two years of completing the curriculum. And because of those social ventures, the Unreasonable Institute’s report states that 24 million lives around the globe were impacted by those companies’ missions. Regardless of the type of business, understanding the financial component matters.
Even today, getting that grasp of how to scale social ventures is still the challenge for most social enterprises around the Nashville area, says Hannah Pechan, director of the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance. “As we talked with many social enterprises and startups over the last two years, we continually heard that most founders were not well-equipped to scale their ventures.”
And while there are programs and workshops in Nashville that address the general concepts around funding to all businesses, Pechan points that social ventures have an additional layer to scale. “Social ventures are working to both scale their financial impact and their social/environmental impact. Because of this, we want to equip them to develop a fundraising plan that explicitly tells the whole story to possible funders.” Of course, not every impact minded entrepreneur can make her way to a 12-week program.
So when the Unreasonable Institute launched the shorter lab curriculum a few years ago, Pechan had kept the program on her radar. “They created incredible curriculum that is eternally focused on scale and impact in order to address our globe’s most pressing problems, so there was direct overlap in our organization’s missions,” says Pechan.
Now, nonprofits and social entrepreneurs in the Southeast can take advantage of the program without traveling too far. The NSEA is bringing the curriculum to Nashville for this summer, with its Nashville Funding Readiness Lab. The five-day accelerator that will take place on July 31- August 4 is open to any venture that is committed to making a social or environmental impact. While the cost is $750 for the team, the curriculum is packed with information and hands-on instruction. The roster of mentors for this upcoming program is seasoned in creating social impact. Among the mentors is Patrick Woodyard, founder & CEO of Nisolo, a luxury leather goods social enterprise that offers global artisans access to the US market. Woodyard is also a former Unreasonable Institute entrepreneur and fellow.