Thank for your interest in the NESsT Romania Social Enterprise Competition 

Your answers on the form below will help us to understand your organization, business model and results so far, as well as your motivation for potentially joining the NESsT portfolio. The application should be filled out by the executive who is leading the social enterprise. Please make sure that you are aware of our selection process requirements. 

You can save this form at any time by pressing the Save & Resume Later link at the bottom of the page. Also, please feel free to fill in the form in either Romanian or English. 

Thank you and good luck!


The selection process and criteria

The NESsT portfolio selection process generally lasts three to four months, depending on the availability of data needed to make the investment decision and the specific support needs that you might have (i.e. leadership development, technological piloting and testing, market research up). 

STEP 1: Fill in the application form. It will take you about two hours to complete the application. Then, the NESsT team will review it and score it against key criteria. After reviewing your application, we may follow up with you to ask additional questions.

Eligibility: All applicants must be legally registered in Romania and have a proven strong social purpose.

Following are the criteria we will consider in evaluating your application:

Social Enterprise Impact Performance & Potential:

  • How well does your social enterprise address critical regional issues, like chronic unemployment and underemployment, as well as lack of access to education and training for at-risk women, at-risk youth, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and small producers & artisans?
  • How does your enterprise provide dignified jobs and sustainable income to at-risk communities?
  • What is the current and potential social impact of your business?
  • What is the environmental impact of your business?

Social Enterprise Business Model Performance & Potential:

  • Has your business been running for at least one year? Does the business model show growth potential and the ability to break even within two years?
  • How strong is your understanding of the market? How well can you describe your company’s competitive advantage, target customers, market size and share, and market trends?
  • How strong are your existing sales? Have you developed a realistic sales plan that reflects your commitment to growing sales?
  • Do you have a clear operations plan in place? Have you worked to identify risks and created a mitigation strategy for addressing those risks?
  • How well do you understand your financials? How are you using the financials to make business decisions and explain assumptions? Do you have a clearly stated investment proposition?

Management Team:

  • What type of track record does your team in running enterprises or nonprofits? What additional professional experience does your team possess that will help your enterprise be successful?
  • How have the members of your team shown resilience and leadership in your current or past ventures?
  • How strong is your vision for the growth of your social enterprise?

NESsT Value Added:

  • How well would your social enterprise be able to effectively leverage NESsT’s early-stage funding, business advice and networks?

STEP 2: We will then invite the selected candidates to participate in an interview. We want to meet you in person in order to perform a deeper analysis on your social enterprise and your growth prospects. We want to learn more about your motivation for starting the social enterprise and to gain a greater understanding of the marginalized people you support through your business.

The make-up of your management team is one of our key considerations at this stage in the process. As a result, we will ask you to complete our Idea2Entrepreneur talent assessment survey. This tool will guide you and your team through a self-discovery process that will help you identify competency gaps and develop a plan for improvement

STEP 3: After this process, NESsT and UniCredit will select a number of maximum 12 businesses that will move to the next stage to receive individualized training and mentoring during the period of 1.5-2 months provided by the NESsT and UniCredit staff. This 1.5-2 month due diligence process will entail training in and development of the lean canvass business tool, which identifies the customers, market demand, potential sales, distribution channels, competition, marketing, operational, financial and social impact aspects of the business. 

You do not need to already have all the answers in place, but you must be willing to work towards getting those answers. We will use best practices, like design thinking and user validation processes, and will engage advisors to support you in further development your business strategy, growth plans, market analysis and planning, financials and measurement. We may also work with you on plans for building and testing prototypes, identifying potential investment instruments, and creating an action plan for your management team based on the results of the Idea2Entrepreneur talent assessment survey.

During this due diligence period, we will together identify the key areas for NESsT support needed for the validation, prepare-to-scale and scaling stages and the commitments that each of us will need to make for the success of your business.

STEP 4: As the final outcome of the process, you will prepare and deliver a pitch summarizing the key elements of your business and building a case for investment. The NESsT investment committee will then make a decision on whether your enterprise will be selected. The NESsT investment committee is comprised of the NESsT representatives, UniCredit experts, external investors and international experts. The decision will be made based on an ”one person, one vote” system during the investment meeting.

The three selected social enterprises invited into the NESsT portfolio will receive a maximum EUR 15 000 Euro each in the form of a venture grant to help them validate their business model and set up for scale.

Also in this stage, the social businesses will have the chance to win an additional prize of EUR 5 000 offered by the UniCredit Foundation through Your Choice, Your Project (YCYP) initiative.