Social entrepreneurs can find it challenging to find resources related to measuring impact. Specialized courses or trainings related to impact measurement and storytelling can help entrepreneurs more fully integrate impact into their business models as well as their fundraising and marketing efforts.

The Social impact Track gave us the platform to think through how we’re going to measure our social impact, and how we’re going to ensure that we’re truly serving the community

— Stacey Matlen, CEO, Cart

The Issue:

When it comes to proving their business model and finding investors, social entrepreneurs share many of the same challenges as other entrepreneurs. However, how an entrepreneur measures impact is markedly different for businesses with a social mission.

The Solution:

The University of Michigan’s Michigan Business Challenge (MBC) is a multi-round competition for students from across the University’s campus to create solid business plans. The Social Impact Track within the Michigan Business Challenge requires that participants consider other factors when building their enterprise. These include clearly identifying a social or environmental issue that affects an underserved population, quantifying and measuring social outcomes and building a financially sustainable financial model that is either for-profit or nonprofit. The most compelling business plans receive a cash prize as well as ongoing support from the Center for Social impact.

The Impact:

One of the finalists from the 2016 Social Impact Track was Stacey Matlen, CEO of Cart. Cart uses existing rideshare infrastructure to get low-income, low-vehicle access individuals to and from fully stocked supermarkets. Through UM's MBC Social Impact Track, Matlen received feedback about her organization's business model and how to measure its impact. She ultimately realized that it was important to seek out investors who shared Cart’s values and cared about the social return on investment rather than traditional venture capital funds. “The feedback we got from the social impact judges was specifically in line with the needs of our target population,” explained Matlen. “This helped us realize the type of funding we should seek out moving forward.”

How it applies to your city:

Universities and other enablers play a formative role in providing would-be social entrepreneurs with the skills and tools necessary to be able to articulate and measure their social impact. Providing these hard skills helps entrepreneurs refine their business model and value proposition in addition to demonstrating their potential for social return.