Rise of Social Impact Accelerators And Social Entrepreneurs
Over the last 4 to 5 years there has been a significant uptick in the number of accelerator programs in India.
Source: Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI), Landscape Study of Accelerators and Incubators in India
Now, compare this with what British Council study on the state of social enterprises in India says:
Clearly, the rise of accelerators specifically social impact accelerators has provided a boost to the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in India. This is to be expected since impact accelerators occupy a pivotal place in the process of development and sustenance of social impact startups. They coach the leaders of these startups to build organizational capacities so that their ventures can be scaled and sustained to achieve their social mission.
Cohort Programs Of Social Impact Accelerators Are Missing Something
Most leading accelerators organize cohort programs for their mentee startups to make them investment and growth ready. These programs coach them on a range of topics across financial management, unit economics, operations, strategic partnerships and sales.
Source: – Landscape Study of Accelerators and Incubators in India, GALI
I have personally been involved in at least half a dozen cohort programs over the last 2 years as a storyteller. One of the most important themes I found missing in these programs has been brand building.
Having a strong and endearing brand plays a big role in helping a startup especially a social impact startup gain market traction. A brand that stands for a specific social mission and weaves a narrative of sustainable development of society is a big asset to possess. It motivates and mobilizes partners, funders, end users and other stakeholders to participate in a startups growth journey.
Storytelling is the best way to build such a brand.
Why Storytelling Is The Best Way To Build A Social Impact Brand
Positive and sustainable social impact means changing the socio-economic status quo of people and transitioning them to a better way of life. Each such transition has a story of fight, hope and triumph behind it. These stories give a distinct personality and emotional appeal to a social impact brand.
If these stories can be identified and told in a real, positive and meaningful way then they can help create a formidable brand. People can be motivated to be part of the brand as customers, donors, investors, volunteers, employees or simply as ardent followers by showing them a vision they can believe in, and the positive outcome of the brand’s efforts.
Social Impact Accelerators Should Coach Startups In Brand Building Through Storytelling
Most social impact startups that enroll for a cohort program of an accelerator are early stage ventures. They have promising ideas, human-centric products and a strong sense of vision for social change. These startups need branding as much as their corporate counterparts. However, they lack resources needed to run expensive branding campaigns.
A cohort program is the best format to educate and coach social impact startups in storytelling as an effective tool for brand building. Almost two-thirds of accelerators conduct in-house programs (as per GALI). This means startups leaders get intimate access to various domain experts and concerted workshop sessions.
Social impact accelerators can introduce storytelling as part of their coaching program. They can coach startup leaders in institutionalization of storytelling- as an organizational capacity and making it an organizational culture. This needs a structured curriculum.
Storytelling is the most effective tool for brand building and social impact startups need to be coached on this. Accelerators who play a pivotal role in development and sustenance of social impact ecosystem have a key role to play here as well.