FAQ – ACSI2 Accelerator Program

Welcome to the second edition of the Asfari Challenge for Social Innovation (ACSI2) Program⚡️

The program aims to support 10 social enterprises in their ideation or prototype stage based in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and the Syrian diaspora. The Accelerator program aims to build the enterprises’ capacity with weekly training and mentorship facilitated by Bloom in partnership with the Asfari Foundation. Through Bloom’s online platform, training pedagogy, networks of experts, and customized curriculum, participating enterprises will develop their ideas and prototypes into functioning business ideas. 


What is the Asfari Challenge for Social Innovation 2 (ACSI2) Accelerator program?

The second edition of the Asfari Challenge for Social Innovation (ACSI2) program aims to support 10 social enterprises in their ideation or prototype stage based in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and the Syrian diaspora. The Accelerator program aims to build the enterprises’ capacity with weekly training and mentorship facilitated by Bloom in partnership with the Asfari Foundation. Through Bloom’s online platform, training pedagogy, networks of experts, and customized curriculum, participating enterprises will develop their ideas and prototypes into functioning business ideas. 

The first edition of the Asfari Challenge for Social Innovation (ACSI) ran from April to October 2020 and supported 15 enterprises focusing on education and lifelong learning initiatives in Lebanon.

Timeline

  1. Public Launch and Applications Open on Sep 8, 2022
  2. Open house starts on Sep 26, 2022
  3. The application deadline is on  Oct 5, 2022
  4. Enterprises are notified of selection into the sprint by  Oct 11, 2022
  5. Sprint starts on  Oct 17, 2022
  6. Sprint Demo day is on  Nov 1, 2022
  7. Enterprises are notified of selection into Accelerator by  Nov 4, 2022
  8. Accelerator starts on Nov 14, 2022, for 16 weeks (4 months)
  9. Demo day is on/around  Mar 9, 2023

What benefits do I receive from the program?

  • Funding up to £4,000 to support an essential aspect of the business could improve growth and sustainability. 
  • Training, mentorship, and other support during the four-month accelerator program 
  • Lifetime access to Bloom’s resources and network of entrepreneurs, including mentors, investors, alumni, and staff
  • Demo day exposure and other investor connections

How can we get funded after the program ends?

We provide the seed funding to get you going, but you may need more funding to continue your enterprise efforts. Near the end of the four-month program, we’ll organize a Demo Day to help connect you with investors, funders, and organizations that could help you in the following stages of your enterprise journey. We’ll coach you, so you’re as effective as possible and do everything we can to help get you follow-on support and funding. 

What language is content delivered in for the program?

The primary language in verbal and written communications during accelerator activities is English. However, we can also offer support and mentorship in Arabic or French. We may adapt those during the program to respond to the needs of enterprises. 

What is a typical day and week for a team during the program?

It’s your enterprise, so you’ll be hard at work on your business, the product, marketing, HR, etc. We’ll have one live training session each week for the selected cohort and synchronous & asynchronous sessions the rest of the week, including formal & informal discussions with our mentors, trainers, and experts. Some of those are “required,” but many are optional, and we expect enterprises to adapt and join the critical sessions for issues they’re dealing with in their enterprise. We’ll also have required check-ins with each enterprise regularly, usually every month. 

In general, you’ll be working on your enterprise daily, just like all of the other founders in the program. We don’t tell you what to do or when, but we create an environment conducive to helping your enterprise daily. And we’ll ensure you have lots of experienced mentors to help you.

What kind of enterprises are we looking for?

Social enterprises with specific areas of focus in sustainability, good governance, independent media, active citizenship, lifelong learning, innovation, and systems change.

How do you choose which enterprises to accept into the program?

We will use the following criteria to assess eligible applications. These are not all requirements, but preferences and enterprises will be weighed on the different elements:

  1. Impact: What difference your idea will make, for whom, how many jobs you will create, and what sort of marginalized communities you will impact.
  2. Capacity: What skills, knowledge, and resources do you have to develop and deliver your idea?
  3. Feasibility: Whether you can realistically deliver your idea by the end of the program and within budget.
  4. Sustainability: Whether your idea has the potential to become financially sustainable and last beyond the lifetime of the funding we provide.
  5. Stage of Enterprise and Product: Whether the enterprise is already generating revenue and the stage of development of the specific product or branch that this program will support.
  6. Inclusion and user testing: Whether the voices of your target clients have been included in the prototype/solution design and whether your client base is inclusive of different demographics, backgrounds, sexes, etc.
  7. Innovation and growth potential: Whether your idea is new and different, and where or how it can potentially grow.

What kind of enterprises is eligible for the program?

Your enterprise is eligible if it meets the following criteria:

  • More than one person in the team, with at least two team members working part-time in the enterprise.
  • No restrictions on sociographic or other parameters regarding the applicants.
  • Enterprises operating in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and the Syrian diaspora.
  • Female-led enterprises and enterprises with higher diversity (age, sex, socio-economic background, refugee/host communities, location around MENA and Africa, etc.) are particularly encouraged to apply. 

We are unable to support:

  • Enterprises of only one individual. 
  • Enterprises engaged with other entrepreneurship/innovation programs/accelerators unless there is a clear distinction between the program offerings. Enterprises can demonstrate their time and capacity to join this program and their other program commitments.

What stage of enterprises is eligible for the program?

Imagine a spectrum of entrepreneurship, from learning about the concept and skills to having a mature enterprise changing the world. Those stages are categorized as follows, and for the sake of this challenge, we will be focusing on supporting enterprises as indicated in yellow below:

Enterprise Development Stages
StagesSub-Stages
0. LEARNING0.1. Learning without the goal of launching an enterprise
1. IDEATION1.1. Want to start and looking for/testing ideas
2. IDEA-STAGE2.1. Exploring ideas, conducting market/customer research 
2.2. Have started developing my idea
3. PROTOTYPE
(Pre-Revenue)
3.1. Have an early (low-fidelity/paper) prototype (of product or service)
3.2.  Have a functioning (high-fidelity) prototype with early users / early adopters
4. EARLY-STAGE4.1. Declining revenues and the enterprise is not yet profitable/sustainable
4.2. Revenues are stagnant or growing slowly, but the enterprise is not however profitable/sustainable
4.3. Revenues are growing quickly, but the enterprise is not yet profitable/sustainable
5. GROWTH-STAGE5.1. Profitable/sustainable business (with stable, growing, or declining revenues)
5.2. Seeking scalability (of impact and/or profits)
5.3. Seeking diversification 
5.4. Seeking an exit 
5.5. Established national enterprise
5.6. Established multinational enterprise

What does the program look like?

You will get access to an empowering program that will include monetary prizes, mentoring, access to opportunities, and more.

  1. Open House
    1. Online discussions and “info sessions” with thought leaders to build awareness and momentum around the program. 
    2. Selection process
  1. Sprint
    1. High-intensity two-week-long Sprint with workshops, mentorship, and support for all enterprises. 
    2. 1-on-1 follow-ups with the enterprises
    3. Sprint Demo Day
    4. Final selection
  1. Accelerator
    1. Weekly or bi-weekly workshops adapted to the needs of the cohort and enterprises
    2. Regular milestone check-ins with all enterprises
    3. Mentorship coordination
    4. Online or offline Demo Day, or otherwise optimized for the interests of partners and the needs of the enterprises to help the enterprises continue their growth path.

Take a leap of faith and apply! It could be you. Yes, you!

The deadline to apply is October 6!

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