Halcyon’s work in the social enterprise space is rooted in one big bet: impact-driven businesses can, and will, outperform their conventional counterparts. But we don’t make a bet then stand back and see what happens – we dive into realizing it through a set of programs and initiatives designed to fundamentally alter the social enterprise ecosystem to be strong, equitable, and sustainable.
It started in 2014 with one program: the Halcyon Incubator’s flagship residential fellowship for early-stage social entrepreneurs. What differentiated this program in its early days was that it was among the first to offer a suite of support mechanisms for fellows – with a focus on founders who traditionally encounter barriers to growth – but without taking any equity in participating ventures.
Today, a growing number of programs meet that criteria, but few offer the same robust set of benefits Halcyon fellows receive: an 18-month fellowship includes five months of rent-free housing at Halcyon’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., workspace, a $10,000 stipend, legal and consulting support, skill building programming, mentorship, and leadership coaching. But more than anything, the Incubator offers fellows a community of people who will see them, challenge them, and support them.
If our flagship Halcyon Incubator fellowship is extensive, our fast-growing tailored intensive programs offer the same opportunity to be a part of the Halcyon community, but through participation in focused experiences designed for specific groups of entrepreneurs.
International intensives introduce entrepreneurs from abroad to the U.S. market and our network of investors and supporters, while other intensives allow us to hone Incubator programming for different demographics or sectors. Where one group may go deep on skills training, another may focus on networking or access to capital.
We get to know our fellows well, and we never stop asking them: What do you need? What they tell us is backed up by our own research, which says that there’s a need for more and better investment mechanisms for social entrepreneurs, particularly women founders and founders of color.
In 2019 we launched the Halcyon Angels, a regional angel network investing in impact-driven businesses and dedicated to growing the pool of angel investors to be more diverse and more compelled by the promise of social enterprise.
As social enterprise ecosystems across the country and beyond have taken shape, Halcyon played a key role in tracking that evolution through our three-edition Social Enterprise Ecosystem Report. First published in 2016, the report combined publicly-available data and a national survey of social entrepreneurs and the people who support them, to provide a comprehensive picture of the state of social enterprise in cities across the U.S.