Support for early-stage Impact Entrepreneurs in Switzerland

The impact entrepreneurship sector has grown in Switzerland in recent years. The idea of solving a social or environmental challenge with an entrepreneurial approach has become more and more widespread.

Although the causal relationship can probably not be clarified conclusively, there is another encouraging development in this sector: support services for impact entrepreneurs are also becoming more numerous. We’ve picked out three incubators and support programs that can be of interest to early-stage impact entrepreneurs in Switzerland :

  1. Impact Hub Basel Incubator

The Impact Hub Basel Incubator is a local 1- year incubator program supporting impact-driven post-ideation startups in Basel who contribute positively to the SDGs in developing and professionalizing their businesses with workshops, continuous mentoring and coaching, and free work spaces in the buzzing, inspiring Coworking of Impact Hub Basel at Dreispitz, Basel.

***

We spoke with Anja Nieveler, Community & Incubator Program Manager at Impact Hub Basel.

How do you experience the development of impact/social entrepreneurship in Basel and Switzerland in recent years?

I find it really exciting to see how step by step a scene is building up where social entrepreneurs get support and visibility.

It is still clearly a niche that receives little attention compared to many established industries in Switzerland. Since the first Impact Hub in Switzerland opened in Zurich over 10 years ago, a lot has definitely happened.

I would hope that in the future there will be offers for SMEs, startups and industries to further develop their ideas and, of course, that the necessary financial resources will be made available for incubators and investments in startups, for example.

What are your best memories with Impact Hub Basel Incubator since the program’s inception? What moments specifically come to mind?

There are really many. I think it’s fantastic to see how the teams develop. My personal highlights are of course the startups, like Mycrobez or Backpack2School, to name just two, that have found new contracts after the incubator program, are growing steadily and have a really stable business model that nevertheless have the meaning and impact of doing at the core of their decisions. This proves to me that learning together, networking and our community can do a lot to build impact-oriented startups.

What is your most valuable advice for social entrepreneurs who are still at the very beginning of their impact careers?

Network! You are not alone. Talk to the impact hubs in Switzerland, or other actors like SENS or SEIF. These are actors who can refer you to the right person. Just because there is no one else who has taken a similar path as you, doesn’t mean that your idea won’t work. Your vision is your motivation!

  1. Circular Economy Incubator

The Circular Economy Transition (CET) Incubator enables teams and startups to prototype and develop solutions contributing to accelerate the transition towards Circular Economy in Switzerland. During the program, the selected entrepreneurs work on developing their minimum viable product (MVP) and validating their business model, with the support from advisors, experts and our network of impact investors.

Each edition of the program incubates 25+ startups Swiss-wide split among 4 cohorts in Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich (for specific information about one city, click to be directed to the local program page). During 12 weeks, the participants will benefit from several elements of support that will empower them to bootstrap an MVP and validate its market potential with customers. By the end of the program, the entrepreneurs should be able to stop looking at their startup as a side-project and more as their full-time job.

The entire support services provided by the CE Incubator have a value of CHF 15.000 per team. The CE Incubator has a zero equity and fees policy. This means you will not be charged anything for your participation in the incubator and the idea you grow stays entirely yours

  1. Start-up Campus / Innosuisse 

In the course “Business Creation for Social Entrepreneurs” experienced startup coaches support you in building your social business. You receive concrete answers to your project and company-specific questions, specify your plans and consolidate your entrepreneurial knowledge.

The course is open to motivated and ambitious members of a Swiss university or university of applied sciences, i.e. students, doctoral students, postdocs, professors as well as founders and heads of recently founded social businesses with a positive social and/or ecological impact. A maximum of 15 participants per course will be admitted. This course is offered in English only.

Find out more about the program here: https://www.startup-campus.ch/en/innosuisse-en/business-creation/

These programs can all offer valuable support to both for-profit and not-for-profit impact entrepreneurs. If you are a not-for-profit organization in Switzerland that is at the next stage of wanting to accelerate and grow your impact, make sure to check out the Social Impact Accelerator. Applications are open until April 4th!