If you plan a career change, have a project in mind, or want to embark on an entrepreneurial journey, you might want to be part of a fellowship. Aspiring social entrepreneurs might become overwhelmed by all the necessary steps to make their dream come true. More often than not, the conventional education system doesn’t teach you how to change the world. Fellowship programmes focus on questions related to funding, planning, and starting your venture while connecting you with experts.

So with that, discover the top fellowships for social entrepreneurs in this article.

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What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is a form of entrepreneurship with a social mission aside from economic objectives. Also referred to as altruistic entrepreneurship, it combines business activity with a social impact. Social entrepreneurs aim to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged groups and minorities, promote social capital and social emancipation, and a more sustainable future.

Entrepreneurial initiatives for a social cause can operate as a for-profit or non-profit venture. Regardless of their organisation, social entrepreneurs’ primary motive is small or large-scale transformative benefits for society. For-profit social enterprises typically lay out a business model in a way that directly addresses a social purpose. On the flip side, non-profit organisations rely on public funding and invest surplus funds back into the cause.

What is a Fellowship?

A fellowship is an association of a group of people who are connected by a common interest and vocation. Fellowship programmes can provide financial aid or a paid learning opportunity. For instance, a master’s or PhD student can be granted a fellowship to fund their education or conduct research in a specialised area. A professional fellowship, on the other hand, provides training intended to prepare participants for professional work endeavours.

Are Fellowships and Scholarships the Same?

Fellows gain access to professional mentorship and resources that schools and jobs don’t usually provide to accomplish their goals. The focus of fellowships is to provide more specialised education and experience, whereas a scholarship awards funding to under and post-graduate students.

Similar to scholarships, fellowship programmes typically last from a few months to one year. However, rather than being awarded based solely on academic prowess, fellowships are also given based on individual potential or project idea.

Fellowships for Social Entrepreneurs

EWOR Fellowship

The EWOR fellowship is designed for highly motivated individuals who aspire to become entrepreneurs but lack the proper resources, teammates, or even the idea for a business itself. EWOR supplies its fellows with free office space, a network of mentors, investors and peers, tailored lesson plans, and even an employment contract if their venture should fail.

Aiming to spring European entrepreneurship further than before while making a positive impact, this 10-month-long programme is perfect for those who want to gear their venture towards a social cause.

In addition to this fellowship, EWOR also offers an 8-week online programme that teaches you how to start a company with a lasting impact on the environment or society. You will gain access to an outstanding ecosystem and wealth of resources to help start or grow your business. Given the time commitment difference, this EWOR Academy programme is great if you are already juggling a lot on your plate.

Ashoka Fellowship

The Ashoka Fellowship is an international network of leading social entrepreneurs dedicated to diverse social causes across the globe. It’s the first social entrepreneur fellowship, founded by Bill Drayton in 1980. The Ashoka fellows work together to solve social problems and transforming the systems behind them.

The social pioneers are nominated based on Ashoka’s fellowship criteria which includes innovation, creativity, motivation, and entrepreneurial qualities. After nomination, the candidates are interviewed, go through a selection panel and a board of review. Selected Ashoka fellows are financially supported for up to 3 years to develop their projects. The fellowship also provides lifelong access to the Ashoka community. The application process is open all-year round in over 90 countries.

BRAC Social Innovation Fellowship

The second on our list of fellowships for social entrepreneurs is the largest NGO in the world. The BRAC Social Innovation Fellowship offers a 1-year fellowship for social entrepreneurs between 18-35 years old.

Fellows have the opportunity to work on all stages of the design thinking process and thus get hands-on experience on creative problem-solving. The programme covers accommodation, a monthly stipend, and a round trip ticket. Entrepreneurs are welcome to apply from anywhere in the world to work in one of the 13 countries in which BRAC operates in Asia and Africa.

Echoing Green Global Fellowship

The Echoing Green is an NGO whose mission is to discover and invest in social entrepreneurs who are passionate about climate action, health, human rights, education, poverty, and racial justice. This 18-month fellowship programme provides $80,000 in seed funding and connects fellows with professionals, investors, and institutions. Furthermore, it helps to build the strategies needed for your venture. Echoing Green also runs self-care workshops for mental and emotional well-being.

Applicants should be in the startup or idea phase. Additionally, they should be able to make organisational decisions to be eligible for the fellowship. English fluency is required as well as being available to work full-time.

The Global Good Fund Fellowship

This fellowship is for a minimum 2 years old enterprises with at least one full-time employee. Each fellow is granted $10,000 and receives leadership assessment resources. Furthermore, they are provided with individual coaching from one professional and one business executive. Fellows go on to create a personalized Leadership Development Plan. The Global Good Fund Fellowship also organises the Global Good Fund Summit event for networking opportunities.

The programme specialises in the financial technology, environment, health, economic mobility, and health sectors.

The Bottom Line

Fellowships for social entrepreneurs have the potential to scale your enterprise and change your life. As a fellow, you will be part of an international social entrepreneurship network, while having access to mentorship and training. Take the time to research and select the most appropriate fellowship for you. This will position your venture for a long-term growth while building up the necessary qualities to advance in your career.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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