Who Should Apply?
Social enterprises at the validate (i.e. sales exist but do not sustain the enterprise) and prepare-to-scale stages (i.e. sales sustain initial operations but not growth). Social enterprises must also meet the following requirements:
- Be based in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America.
- Use market‐based solutions to create dignified employment, placements and viable income generation opportunities for marginalized groups, while also addressing the many barriers that keep these communities from accessing the formal labor force.
- Demonstrate a willingness to be active and engaged through the months of the selection process.
What We Offer
We provide our portfolio with tailored financial support, business mentoring and strategic networking. NESsT offers investment packages up to $150,000 in the form of grants, patient working capital loans and recoverable grants over a five-year period. We also encourage co-investments and are proactive towards introducing you to our co-investment partners. We also leverage the services and support of our Business Advisory Network and NESsT partners to be your mentors and to provide industry-specific expertise. Over a five-year period, these services are valued at up to $70,000.
If you are in the validate stage, we will help you test the business model and refine it until it works, including assisting you with capturing customer feedback to validate your product or service for various market segments. We’ll also work with you to operationalize the business by developing a realistic revenue and expense structure, establishing efficient operational processes, adopting effective metrics to manage your business and track impact, and building a team with specialized skills to assume the day-to-day operations. To ensure the financial sustainability of your business, our team will assist with identifying further patient capital needs and attracting donors, investors and other partners.
If you are preparing to scale, the NESsT team will help you develop a three-year strategic plan, which will include scaling milestones, key challenges that need to be resolved and a clear exit strategy. Through our work together, we’ll also help you strengthen your brand and marketing strategy to grow and access new market segments, as well as support you in building a solid marketing team that can implement the strategy. Another key focus at this phase will be on the development of your senior management team and on attracting new donors, investors and partners to support financing and social impact goals.
NESsT will customize our support of your business based on your needs, leveraging the services and support of our Business Advisory Network and NESsT partners to be your mentors and to provide industry-specific expertise. Our goal is to help you tap into your company’s greatest opportunities for growth and to support you in taking calculated risks that will result in the greatest impact in the communities you work.
NESsT offers investment packages up to $150,000 in the form of grants, patient working capital loans and recoverable grants over a five-year period. We strive to provide you with favorable financing terms on loans and recoverable grants, usually below 6% interest with long terms and grace periods. We also encourage co-investments and are proactive in introducing you to our co-investment partners.
What We Expect from You
We expect you to be engaged and dedicated to the social mission and business performance of your social enterprise. We want to develop a trust-based, long-term relationship with you and your team. That means we may ask you tough questions and challenge you to make changes, with the goal of making your business even stronger. We ask that you be open and ready to answer questions regarding your business, social impact, finances and governance. And, we expect you to ask us a lot of questions.
Once in the portfolio, we ask that you meet with our staff regularly and publicly communicate the support you get from NESsT. We encourage you to use NESsT’s proven Performance Management Tool, which will help you to manage and measure your performance against annual established social impact and business performance goals. We also ask that you participate in events organized for the portfolio, including workshops and retreats, as well as sector-building events.
Finally, as an key investor in your business, a NESsT representative will be available to hold a seat on your company’s board of directors. We will also agree to a set of decisions in which NESsT will have decision-making authority. This will allow NESsT to both mitigate the risks of our investment, while also ensuring that these investments are used to support informed business decisions.
Ready to Apply?