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A new incubator is teaching start-ups how to do good and make money at the same time

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This autumn, up to 40 start-ups from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane with a social and/or environmental mission will partake in leading social enterprise incubator Two Feet.

The Two Feet program is run by TDi (The Difference Incubator), known as the hardest business heads in social enterprise and subsidised by the National Australia Bank (NAB). The Two Feet program normally costs $15,000, but thanks to NAB funding will be delivered for $5,000 per company.

After starting in Melbourne last month, Two Feet is launching in Sydney and Brisbane. TDi’s scouting team will be in both cities in April to interview potential participants, who are invited to apply via TDi’s website.

TDi co-founder and CEO Bessi Graham said Two Feet was part of a long-term mission to build a critical mass of successful social enterprises across Australia ready to take on investment.

“At present, the social enterprise market is like the tech scene in the nineties – a market in its infancy, but which has enormous potential to change the world while also making money,’’ Graham said.

“We want social enterprise to become mainstream. Once we have a critical mass of enterprises, other startups will see how they can do good and make money, and investors will see how they can do good while diversifying and de-risking their portfolios.”

How does the Two Feet program work?

Graham said the team do not select charities or ‘napkin ideas’, but social enterprises who are already trading, or entrepreneurs with a track record who have an amazing idea.

“We want to move social enterprises away from grant reliance and into a business model where they are doing good and making money. We are looking for companies that could stack up as good investment and demonstrate their social impact.”

Bessi Graham
Bessi Graham

The Melbourne edition of the program launched last week and eight start-ups have already been selected to participate. A second edition will start this June for a further 10 social enterprises.

A team of TDi experts will work with the start-ups for six months, after which the two top performers from each program in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be selected by their peers to present to a Dragons’ Den style panel including TDi, NAB and impact investors in Melbourne. The winning enterprise will also have the opportunity to participate in TDi’s highly competitive Investment Readiness Program.

To enable entrepreneurs to take part in Two Feet while continuing to run their start-ups, the program is structured into fortnightly group sessions and a monthly one-on-one coaching session. Topics include strategy, operations (including piloting and prototyping), marketing, finance, funding and structuring options, pitching to investors, social outcomes measurement and governance.

Who is taking part in Two Feet Melbourne?

The Two Feet Melbourne participants are an inspiring and diverse group of entrepreneurs with big ideas to make a positive social or environmental impact.

Circular Food

Circular Food was founded in late 2015 by Steve Morriss, a director of electronics recycling business Close the Loop. Steve established Circular Food to create a closed loop system for organic waste and help professional and urban farmers produce better tasting, higher quality and more profitable products by improving the health of soils. The enterprise takes in organic waste and processes it using vermiculture (worm farms), which produces high quality organic fertiliser to be used back on farms.

Mr. GP

Created to address the social stigma means most men feel uncomfortable visiting their GP, Mr. GP is a men’s GP clinic where appointments are done at the bar, side by side with the GP. The clinic will allow men to proactively manage their physical and mental health through a GP and psychologist co-existing in a laid back and hearty environment. The brainchild of physiotherapist Alex Drew, Mr. GP is set to launch in Melbourne in 2016.

m.a.d.woman

m.a.d.woman was launched in 2007 by Melina Schamroth to inspire and enable people in the community to make a difference through innovative and creative programs supporting some of Australia’s most vulnerable people such as domestic violence survivers, the homeless, long-term unemployed asylum seekers and people facing other disadvantages. m.a.d.woman also provides socially responsible team building for corporates to support their communities. Programs includes Christmas for a Cause, which provides care and dignity to people facing disadvantage during the festive season, the Bib Project, which sees volunteers making bibs and burp cloths for babies in disadvantaged families, and providing care packs to people facing social disadvantage or financial restraints. Since launching nine years ago, m.a.d.woman has helped more than 300,000 people.

The Food Workshop

One in six children in Australia live in poverty, one in four are overweight or obese, and only five percent eat the right amount of fruit and vegetables. Nicola Deal established The Food Workshop to ensure all Australian children have access to fresh, nutritious food at school. The Food Workshop creates fresh, healthy, delicious lunches that parents can order online to be delivered to Melbourne schools. The enterprise also donates lunches to Australian children in need whose parents cannot afford to provide healthy lunches for their children. As the enterprise grows, Nicola also hopes to provide opportunities for people to enter or re-enter the workforce through creating employment opportunities at The Food Workshop.

Well School

Wellschool was launched in 2012 with the vision to cultivate thriving wellness communities in schools, healthcare and the workplace. Wellschool responds to the need of individuals to harness the power of community to facilitate wellness. The team translate evidence-based learning into action through peer-to-peer programs focused on community, coaching and skills building. By bringing these powerful components together people shift from social isolation to connection and from the path of disease to longevity and flourish.

Social Cycles

Social Cycles is a responsible tourism enterprise that uses cycling to connect people with communities and create fundraising for NGOs. The enterprise was founded in 2015 by Brett Seychell after he returned to Australia after cycling around world donating $12,000 to various projects. Brett met many NGOs along the way and donated the funds to 13 projects, all which aim to become income-generating, sustainable and community based initiatives. Brett established Social Cycles to share what he learnt during his journey, and to challenge Australians’ perception of charity through group cycling adventures. Social Cycles does this by taking participants on a journey to interact and connect with local grassroot NGOs and meet the beneficiaries of a funded project of their choosing.

PASCOP – Meaningful Ageing

PACSOP – Meaningful Ageing is Australia’s peak body focused on the pastoral and spiritual needs of older people, their significant others and their carers by working with organisations and groups who care for older people. It was launched in May 2014 with a mission to ensure all older Australians have access to high quality care that strengthens the webs of relationships we all need: with ourselves, with others, nature, creativity and something beyond ourselves (called ‘God’ by some).

The Field Trip

The Field Trip’s mission is to inspire young people to realise their potential and create a positive legacy for the world. The enterprise achieves this through a fun, weekly program run every Sunday afternoon for children aged 10 – 17 who want to make a difference, and put their unique stamp on the world. The program is delivered a term at a time and gives participants the connections and confidence to create a positive legacy. Each term has a purpose that is identified at the outset, and aims to deliver a high impact, tangible outcome to the local and global community.
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