Reports / Reports

Trends in Seed-Stage Social Enterprises

Echoing Green, a seed-stage funder of social entrepreneurs for over twenty-five years, has disbursed US 33 million in funding and strategic assistance to nearly 600 emerging leaders around the world through its highly competitive fellowship program. Echoing Green received 2,727 applications from 120 countries for its three fellowship programs.

As part of its impact investing program, applications proposing for-profit and hybrid business models are highlight for the first time to provide a snapshot of emerging trends in social enterprise. However, readers should not use these application data to draw conclusions about specific geographies, sectors, organization types, or the broader field. Echoing Green hopes others working with seed-stage social enterprises will share their data to increase knowledge in the field and help emerging leaders succeed.

Applications with elements of for-profit business models continue to increase and now compose almost half of all proposed programs. In 2006, only 15 percent of applications did so.

Key takeaways from the snapshot include:

  • 2014 hybrid applications are both younger, in terms of years of existence prior to application, and at an earlier organizational stage than for-profits.
  • For-profit applications increasingly focus on serving the general population while hybrids increasingly cite the economically disadvantaged as their target constituency.
  • On average, for-profit applications report raising the most funds since launch across all organization types.