Call For Application: Accelerator For Ventures Serving Displaced People

The Problem:

Forced displacement is one of the defining social crises in our lifetimes. The number of forcibly displaced people (FDP) — a population that includes refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers, hosting communities, and those displaced by conflict or climate impacts — surpassed 80 million in 2020, and projections suggest that 250 million to 1 billion could be displaced worldwide by 2050 from climate change alone.

Eastern Africa is being affected by a series of destabilizing social and climatic shocks that are forcing displacement. This is especially concerning given that the region currently hosts over 4.5 million refugees and 8 million internally displaced people. Humanitarian efforts—while critical—often do not address the longer-term, systemic challenges around employment, economic opportunity, and self-reliance presented by this crisis for the region’s millions of refugees, asylum seekers, and people displaced by climate change. Most forcibly displaced people will never return home, and durable solutions within hosting communities are needed.

Refugee-owned, refugee-led, or refugee-supporting social enterprises can help to unlock the potential of forcibly displaced communities with business models that promote self-reliance: the social and economic ability of forcibly-displaced people and their host communities to meet their essential needs without external aid. To assist social entrepreneurs who work in or seek to expand into this space, this accelerator will equip leaders with the moral leadership lessons, business skills, and learnings from our portfolio companies to confidently scale their enterprises and build scalable, inclusive, and sustainable solutions.

Who is Qualified to Apply?

This accelerator is open to entrepreneurs who:

  • Run a for-profit social enterprise based in Kenya, Uganda, or Ethiopia
  • Are advancing self-reliance in and between forcibly displaced populations and their hosting communities in at least one of the following ways:
    • Serving communities vulnerable to displacement, forcibly displaced populations, and/or hosting communities as customers
    • Providing decent work and employment to communities vulnerable to displacement, forcibly displaced populations, or hosting communities
    • Sourcing from communities who are affected by displacement, communities vulnerable to displacement, or hosting them.
  • Have a demonstrated track record of at least 1-3 years, some market traction, and are preparing to scale
  • Favorable consideration will be given to teams promoting climate-resilient solutions

How it works?

Over 10 weeks, two members of your leadership team will learn the essentials for building a scalable business model that achieves both profitability and impact.

Working virtually alongside a close-knit cohort of entrepreneurial peers, you’ll examine how your business model currently serves forcibly displaced people and their host communities and test strategies to further access the FDP market. You’ll learn how to finance your business as it scales, practice pitching, and receive feedback and tips from Acumen’s network.

As a participant, you’ll also have access to industry and impact-specific case studies, video tutorials and practical readings, and receive invaluable one-on-one support and guidance from our team. Each week, you’ll complete assignments designed to help you think critically about your business model and introduce best practices to reach and serve forcibly displaced populations, and then join weekly interactive Learning Labs alongside your cohort members to give and receive feedback and learn together.

Throughout the journey, you’ll dive into Acumen’s Moral Leadership practices, like Listening to Voices Unheard and Partnering with Humility and Audacity. These skills are vital for any leader looking to reimagine what society and the workforce can look like and drive actionable change.

The program will culminate with a virtual closing session where you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your venture. The top three ventures selected will receive a share of US $75,000 of grant funding.

What’s Included:

  • Five Learning Labs alongside your cohort of entrepreneurs.
  • Three one-on-one consultation calls with Acumen’s team for individualized support on customer experiments, financial model, and pitching.
  • Video tutorials on customer discovery, sales and marketing, financial modeling, pitching, and more
  • Case studies from social enterprises that have successfully scaled while contributing to sustainable livelihoods for the forcibly displaced
  • Opportunity to pitch to a group of investors and donors interested in the FDP space, eligibility for a share of $75K in grant funding, and possible inclusion in Acumen’s investment pipeline
  • Graduation into Acumen Academy’s Foundry: an alumni community designed to accompany leaders from around the world by connecting them with resources and relationships to amplify their work

For more Information: Visit Acumen Academy

Current Calls For Application:

Call For Application: Irish Tech Challenge – South Africa

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