Women of Impact is a 12-month training, mentorship and business accelerator programme which pairs social enterprises with professional service firms (corporate finance and commercial law firms) to serve as advisors and provide pro bono legal and business support. The programme was started to remove barriers to investment and business support that female “social/environmental” entrepreneurs encounter when trying to scale their enterprises. Statistics show that women receive considerably lower-levels of investment in comparison to their male counterparts and that women have lower expectations for their business growth than men. The Women of Impact programme was set up to address these issues in three ways.
Business strategy and investment training
Course modules help social entrepreneurs improve impact measurement skills, develop or optimise theories of change, improve investment readiness and ensure governance structures are in place.
Practical pro bono legal and finance support
Legal and financial professional service firm partners provide bespoke, practical support to entrepreneurs such as helping to optimise business structures, draft contracts, business plan or pitch deck review and advise on all matters corporate commercial or finance related.
Mentorship and Networking
Entrepreneurs are matched with an advisory team at the start of the programme to provide them with business advisory support, pro bono and legal advice and mentor their business to scale. Additionally, programme participants are brought together several times a year to build community and improve the overall networks of all parties.
How it works
Female founders or business owners are invited to submit an application to join the programme each year. Women of Impact programme staff then shortlist the group of programme participants based upon our eligibility criteria. A list of shortlisted enterprises is provided to corporate partners who select a partner enterprise.
Founders that are accepted are then interviewed to further identify business needs and then meet with WOI programme staff and their corporate partner legal team to scope out pro bono support required throughout the year.
Business owners work with corporate teams over the course of 12 months. Female founders also participate in business development modules and networking events throughout the year- typically about one engagement per month.
Participants are asked to commit to attend a minimum of 70% of all sessions throughout the year.
“Women of Impact has changed our priorities completely. “
BirdsonG | Programme PArticipant
The programme is broken up into four quarters with two to three different sessions each quarter. Workshops, networking events and mentoring sessions are delivered across the year.
Introduction Session: Goal setting, expectations, being a mentee and programme overview.
Work scoping meeting
Theory of Change & Measuring Impact
Governance & Structuring
Intellectual Property & Employment
What will your learn?
Understand various business and governance structures
Analyse which business and governance structure are most appropriate for their enterprise
Create a plan to improve their governance and structure with their firm partner
Develop a draft theory of change for your own organisation
Knowledge of the organisations investing in early stage enterprises, their profile and the amount of capital available
Understanding of how to develop business aspects necessary to reach investment readiness
Access to world-class legal pro bono support
High-level business development development training sessions
Access to Prime Advocates social finance expertise and eco-system
Networking and Community building
How to join?
Applications for 2019 programme are now closed. Applications for 2020 will reopen in the autumn.
Female owned or led social enterprise
Operating and trading for at least one year
Be based and delivering impact in the UK
Have at least one staff member working full-time on the business
Must be legally incorporated
Ability to commit to the programme for one year