Scaling up is a big challenge for any small business, even if it’s run by a brilliant entrepreneur with a demonstrably great solution to a significant problem. That's partly an organisational issue – hiring the right people, getting the strategy right, and so on. But it's also a financing issue. And that’s particularly true for businesses with some kind of social mission, because traditional sources of capital tend to be a bit more sceptical.
Which is (possibly) where the 2013 DNA Profit with Purpose Prize comes in. A collaboration between the DNA Summit (of which more later), the United Nations Office for Partnerships and Bridges Ventures, a fund manager that specialises in impact-driven investment, the idea is to find a UK-based entrepreneur with a small business that "has the potential to deliver both attractive investment returns and positive social or environmental impact". In other words: a company that looks to make the world a slightly better place at the same time as making a profit.
The winner will get £100,000 in equity (thus addressing the financing problem) plus lots of hands-on support from the Bridges team and its network of business angels (which will hopefully help with some of the organisational challenges).
And just to put a cherry on top, they'll be announcing the results at the forthcoming DNA Summit in London in June (that's Decide Now Act, acronym fans). This is a pow-wow for "the most innovative minds from business, entertainment, science, technology, sport and philanthropy", who'll be putting their heads together to solve all the world's problems – led by the Innovation 101, an arbitrary list of innovators that includes Richard Reed of Innocent, Sir Martin Sorrell, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Jimmy Wales, Dame Barbara Stocking and, erm, Dave Stewart from Eurythmics.
(Incidentally, you may have seen that BA is flying a group of 100 Silicon Valley luminaries over from San Francisco to London for the conference, and during the flight they’ll be tasked with developing some kind of technology platform to connect innovators around the globe. The results of this flagrant PR stunt "innovation lab in the sky" will be presented to the UN when the plane lands.) Anyway, if you do fancy snagging yourself £100,000, plus a day eating vol-au-vents with Richard et al), you need to get cracking: the deadline for entries is May 13. You can find all the details HERE.