Social entrepreneurship – the process of applying an entrepreneurial mindset to address social issues – is becoming an increasingly prevalent investment strategy within the world of philanthropy. 

Ford Fund’s first entry into this space dates back to 2008 with the U.S. launch of the Ford College Community Challenge – an innovative program that awards grants to student-led projects and social enterprises aimed at meeting community needs. In 2014, the Ford College Community Challenge was expanded to nine countries through a collaboration with international nonprofit Enactus and is now one of Ford Fund’s signature global programs.

Ford Fund’s approach to social entrepreneurship has seen rapid growth, with a marked increase in business incubator and accelerator programs around the world. Highlights include:

Working with Brazil nonprofit Artemisia to implement the Ford Fund Mobility Lab in Brazil – a program that provided seed capital and training to 20 startups working on innovative solutions for lower-income families facing mobility and transportation challenges.

Supporting Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy workshops that teach future business leaders to think and act like entrepreneurs. These workshops have been held in the United States, Spain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with plans to expand to South Africa.

Investing in women social entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan and Washington, D.C. through the inaugural Empower Change MI and HERImpact D.C. business plan and pitch competitions.

Hosting business pitch competitions for veteran entrepreneurs in cities throughout the United States in partnership with Bunker Labs – a national nonprofit that helps veterans and transitioning service members and spouses succeed as entrepreneurs.

Expanded programming at Ford Resource and Engagement Centers worldwide, including:

  • Launching a social entrepreneurship incubator space at the new center in Craiova, Romania
  • Coaching social entrepreneurs to develop and strengthen their business models as part of the Ford Resource and Engagement Center City Accelerator program in Detroit 
  • Job and entrepreneurial training classes at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Pretoria, South Africa
To learn about additional ways Ford Fund supports communities, click here.