The VOICE of Philanthropy

First-of-its-kind program selects nine finalists for mentorship and resources

From the Central Florida Foundation

The Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator announced the nine finalists of its inaugural cohort this week. The nine companies include:

The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, SnapGood, Outcome Funding, Omni, Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Florida Abolitionists, Fleet Farming, EcoSpears, and Big Mountain Data.

The Accelerator received applications from 39 nonprofit and for-profit entities. The applications were narrowed down to 16 companies that were invited for phone interviews. From these interviews, the pool of applicants was further narrowed down with input from contributors to the Accelerator.

“We were excited to receive so many applications to be a part of our first cohort,” said chief executive officer and chairman of the board, Rob Panepinto. “It says a lot about the number of companies and nonprofits in the community that are looking to solve societal challenges and do business in a new way.”

Each of the participants will receive six months of mentorship, tailored curriculum, and peer support in preparation for the pitch event in March 2018 where one of the participants will receive a minimum $25,000 investment. The program began last week.

“It’s only the beginning, but so far, this experience is amazing,” said Tomas Lares, founder/ executive director of Florida Abolitionist, a nonprofit organization with the aim to stop human trafficking in Orlando. “We [the companies] all have varying degrees of experience and are from different walks of life, but we are learning together and from one another.

This initiative will serve as an example to others across the country that aspire to a similar concept.”

The first program of its kind in Central Florida, this initiative will help entrepreneurs in the early stages of product or business development. Participants will interact with mentors to advance a business model that achieves a “double bottom line” – delivering tangible results.

The program is structured as an initiative of Central Florida Foundation in partnership with Downtown Credo, Rollins College, Clean the World, and EIA (Entrepreneurs in Action). It is headquartered at the Rosen Center at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

“We are thrilled to be working with these nine organizations,” said Ben Hoyer, president, and COO of the Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator and founder of Downtown Credo, a donation-based coffee shop. “While they are all from very diverse fields and at varying levels of traction, they are committed to impacting social, economic or environmental problems in a sustainable way. I’m excited to spend the next six months prepping them to pitch for investment.”

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About Central Florida Foundation

Central Florida Foundation is the place for people who want to invest in their community. The Foundation serves as the region’s community foundation and is home to more than 400 charitable funds. The Foundation manages and invests funds, offers personalized service and expert giving advice, connects caring people, businesses, governments, and organizations to local initiatives that build and inspire the community and empowers them to make informed decisions that make a difference now and in the future. Central Florida Foundation works with individuals, families, businesses, professional advisors and nonprofits.

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About the Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator

The Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator’s mission is to create positive social change by propelling qualified social entrepreneurs to build their ideas into self-sustainable ventures within our community. We work with social entrepreneurs in the early stages of developing their product or business who are looking for help or guidance.



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