Rethinking Accelerator
and Incubator Programs

A cornerstone of many social entrepreneurship education initiatives is some form of accelerator or incubator program typically designed to help “incubate” or “accelerate” the growth of participating social enterprises. Rather than taking a systems orientation, most of these programs are designed around an organizational growth framework, overlooking the opportunity to “accelerate” the participants impact through initiatives that might not equate to organizational growth. Some programs are agnostic about the organization’s legal form, while some accept only non-profits or only businesses, yet most tend to focus at the organizational level: they provide support to start or grow a social impact organization. In our exploration of systems change, we have noted that not all change comes from growing social ventures, and that when supporting social ventures, skills beyond start-up training are necessary to support systems-led leadership. As such, we wanted to take a look at accelerator programs that moved beyond traditional start-up growth offerings. Here are a few we might all learn from: