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LSE launches £50m social enterprise accelerator

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Published: 12 January 2023

The LSE Marshall Institute’s ‘100x Impact Accelerator’ aims to help social enterprises, mainly from emerging markets, identify the best approaches to scale up their impact

Professor Stephan Chambers, director of the Marshall Institute at LSE | LSE

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has launched a first call for applications for a £50m (€56m) accelerator to help social enterprises, mainly from emerging markets, to identify the right combination of expertise, mentoring, and capital to scale-up more rapidly.  

The 100x Impact Accelerator aims to bring elements of accelerator models used with private sector businesses to the social enterprises sector, in an effort to boost both growth and impact. It has been developed by the Marshall Institute at the LSE, which was established by philanthropist Sir Paul Marshall with the goal of promoting private action for public benefit.  

“A clear understanding of the best approaches for social enterprises and charities to scale impact just doesn’t exist the way it does for private businesses to scale profits. That severely curtails the impact these organisations could have, and the world is worse off for it. 100x Impact Accelerator aims to plug this gap,” Professor Stephan Chambers, director of the Marshall Institute, said. 

Each social enterprise selected for the accelerator will receive a £150,000 grant, access to LSE expertise, and a 12-week programme to help them maximise impact, including tailored support from experts and successful social enterprise founders. LSE plans to support two groups of ten social enterprises every year, with 70% of these from emerging markets. 

The programme includes two weeks of in-person sessions at LSE in London, virtual meetings with experts, and an annual ‘summit day’, where participants will present to philanthropists, investors, governments, and media. 

Proven model

The programme is looking for organisations that already have a proven model and are ready to scale up from among eight sectors aligned with LSE’s research priorities: climate and environment, health and social care, refugees and cohesion, equitable economies, happiness and wellbeing, democracy, education, and new frontiers. 

Leslie Labruto, 100x Impact Accelerator | LSE

“Rather than focusing on endlessly raising capital to grow your business, we help you figure out the best endgames or models for scaling,” Leslie Labruto, director of the 100x Impact Accelerator, told Impact Investor.  

“These models could be things like partnerships, government adoption, digitisation, and open-source solutions that may wind up moving an organisation away from needing to perpetually fundraise. Ventures won’t be building a business model canvas or spending weeks refining their pitch. Instead, our programme is bespoke and informed by the needs and common values of each cohort,” she said. 

Funding comes from a 10-year £50m seed grant from Sir Paul Marshall, which covers all costs associated with the accelerator, including capital to ventures and operating costs. The amount and type of capital allocated to ventures may change overtime as the programme evolves. 

Ventures selected for the first cohort will be formally announced in May 2023, with the programme due to start in June. 

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