GSBI Social Entrepreneurs Get Funded

Thursday, October 22, 2015

By: Karen Runde, GSBI Program Manager, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves awards just announced

In September, the Global Social Benefit Institute’s (GSBI®) partner Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves announced the winners of its grants to spark business growth and empower women. Nearly US$2 million in grants were awarded to entrepreneurs working to create a global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions, saving millions of lives, creating livelihoods, and restoring human dignity.

This year the Alliance awarded 16 grantees from a diverse range of initiatives falling under three main funding mechanisms: the Women’s Empowerment Fund, Spark Fund, and the Catalytic Small Grants Program. The focus of all of the grants is to empower women and help small businesses scale their operations.

Of the 16 grantees, Miller Center is proud to see that 50% were GSBI alumni, including one that is currently participating in the GSBI Online program.

If you’re a social entrepreneur looking to achieve this level of success, the GSBI is currently recruiting for its 2016 Online and Accelerator programs.  These programs help social entrepreneurs such as the Alliance grantees become investment ready and instill the operational disciplines necessary to become successful. To apply, please visit:  The deadline to apply is Oct 23rd.

Above: Judith Joan Walker, Co-Director of African Clean Energy (ACE( gives a product demonstration of the ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass stove, a smokeless stove and solar device charger that has the potential to save lives and halt deforestation. Walker is pitching at the GSBI Accelerator Investor Showcase to a room full of impact investors, philanthropists, and Silicon Valley business executives. Photo credit: Santa Clara University

Qualities of a GSBI alum

The GSBI supports entrepreneurs at every stage of their lifecycle through in-depth mentoring by Silicon Valley executives and instruction in best practices. Award winners, Essmart and African Clean Energy were part of the most recent 2015 GSBI Accelerator cohort and presented at Miller Center’s annual Investor Showcase. Essmart is working to develop a network of more than 8,000 retail shops around India, offering a catalog of eco-friendly and socially responsible products that can be quickly delivered and help increase revenue and profits – the original Sears model. Essmart’s Women’s Empowerment Fund grant will be used to help them focus on training women shopkeepers, as a model for empowering women to be active members in their family business. This training will be tested by end-user adoption of cleaner and more efficient cookstoves.

Hailing from Lesotho, ACE manufactures clean-burning cookstoves for Africa. The stoves are powered by solar generators, which power LED lights and cell phones as well as burn with no smoke emissions – 4.3 million people die each year from the effects of cooking with kerosene, inhaling the fumes in homes without ventilation. ACE will use its Spark grant to strengthen its internal operations, expand manufacturing, and increase marketing and sales activities in East Africa.

As evidenced by Essmart and ACE, social entrepreneurs that complete the GSBI curriculum are as diverse as they are impressive. GSBI alums are not your typical startups as they have already begun to scale and achieve a direct social impact in their communities. GSBI Accelerator and GSBI Online are programs designed to help social entrepreneurs scale even more rapidly.

GSBI helps social entrepreneurs get funding

A top priority for the social entrepreneurs participating in the GSBI is to raise funding to enable them to accelerate the growth of their businesses. Successfully identifying the type and amount of capital is a vital step towards sustainably scaling a social enterprise. A large part of the GSBI methodology includes developing a “justifiable ask,” in which participants work closely with executive mentors in Silicon Valley to articulate how their investment funds will be used, and clarify the social and financial components of their expected return.

When a social entrepreneur is able to attain the necessary resources to reach larger audiences, this can be a powerful force of change – one that solves tough and complex social problems, especially in reducing global poverty.

Located at Santa Clara University, as part of Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the GSBI supports social entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions to solve the problems of poverty. Both Miller Center and the Alliance have set high targets to reach by 2020. By this year, Miller Center plans to “positively impact the lives of 1 billion people” and the Alliance similarly operates with the goal to have “100 million households adopt clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels.” Although both goals are ambitious – and even audacious – these goals are attainable when working with a strong network of partners that work together to enable a positive global impact.


Source: Miller Center (link opens in a new window)

business development, social enterprise