Bull City Forward, the social entrepreneurship organization that promotes startups that promote the greater good, is launching a Forward Fellows program that will offer support, mentorship, and a stipend to entrepreneurs whose companies, products, and ideas add to the betterment of the community at large, whether that be a community in the local sense all the way up to the, you know, all of us.
HUB Raleigh, the co-working slash incubator launched last year in downtown Raleigh, is also on board with the program.
It’s an odd kind of hybrid in a still generally misunderstood area, but it’s one in which the time has come.
On one hand, the Forward Fellows program is the first of its kind for the area, but there are dozens, if not more across the country. Forward Fellows is a one-year fellowship for up to ten selected candidates in the Triangle area’s social venture sector.
Entrepreneurs must call the Triangle their primary home for the duration of the Fellowship, meaning there could be some attraction to the Triangle with the program. It’s open to entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs,” for-profit and non-profit, and open to a variety of backgrounds ranging from technology and education to healthcare and the public sector.
The fellowship aims to provide professional development and training, network expansion, media visibility, and a stipend. In return, it asks for commitment from the fellows to the BCF program, which in itself should be a part of the social entrepreneur’s mission.
That return is in the form of meetings with mentors, a 10-hour-a-month volunteer commitment, activities and meetings, helping build the overall social entrepreneurship network in the Triangle, curating an event, contributing to blogs and other content, and a final presentation.
It’s not a full-time position, and the stipend is $5,000 – certainly a sizable chunk of money, just not the equivalent of a full time salary. So the ideal candidate is the entrepreneur who is working full-time on their own venture or within a larger organization.
I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of social entrepreneurship. On one side, I believe it should be the goal of every entrepreneur — that whatever product or service their building should ultimately benefit humanity. But I also know I’m kind of naive in that thinking, and you only need to meet a handful of wantrepreneurs to understand that there are a lot of bottom-liners out there.
In any case, the values that social entrepreneurship promotes and the means they take to get there can serve as that foundation of building good over evil (once the mantra of behemoth Google, if you remember, before it was “build the world’s biggest ad firm”). You can see these values in the love people have for Apple, the hate they maintain for Facebook, and the general expenditure of effort that fuels the growth of the greater startup community, especially in the Triangle.
People do things because they should be done, very often without regard to their own personal benefit. Who can argue with that?
The deadline for application is midnight on Sunday February 17th, and you can download the application and get more information at http://bullcityforward.org/forward-fellows