10   +   9   =  

Where to start when considering to launch a social business? Where to look for information? Whom to contact for support? Where to get consultancy or coaching? Who could help with seed funding? These are some of the questions I hear more often, and which also crossed my mind several times. The good news is, there are stipends and competitions for (aspiring) social entrepreneurs – some of them even for very early-stage ideas. Here an overview of stipends and competitions for (aspiring) social entrepreneurs & change makers!

1. 2015 European Social Innovation Competition

Based around the theme ‘New Ways to Grow‘ the competition aims to support individuals and organisations with entrepreneurial, game changing ideas for social innovation projects. Ideas are sought from all sources and sectors, and all types of organisations including for-profit, non-for-profit, or private companies. At the same time, newcomers and self-starters who want to explore social innovation are also invited to apply! The Competition is meant for solutions under development and early-stage projects, not for implemented or completed actions.


  • Open to everyone (individuals or legal entities except public administrations) resident in EU Member States and countries participating in the Horizon 2020 programme
  • If your company has already received funding for a given concept under the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 1, it shall not receive funding for the same project under the EU budget again
  • Entries must be submitted on the Competition website in one of the official languages of the European Union
  • Contestants may submit more than one entry


  • €50 000 – for the top 3 projects
  • Mentoring component for all semi-finalists

Deadline: 8. May 2015 at 12:00 noon

2. Seif Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

In the fifth year since its creation, the seif Awards for Social Entrepreneurship have become the biggest Swiss business plan competition in the area of Social Entrepreuneurship. The Awards go to Swiss and international projects presenting an innovative business model which responds to social challenges. The awards are carried out in cooperation with Global Impact Forum.


  • Business plan (about 15 – 25 pages)
  • A logo and/or picture of your organisation
  • Online application form


Deadline: 30. June 2015

3. Startsocial

National-wide competition fostering volunteer and social engagement initiatives in Germany. in support of social initiatives fostering social engagement & volunteering.


  • Working on a sustainable solution for a social problem
  • Individuals and teams, as well as registered organisations and associations can apply
  • People are at the core
  • Focus on voluntary work
  • Project based in Germany
  • Projects in idea phase, but also already implemented, established projects


  • 4 months consulting/coaching stipend for 100 social initiatives
  • Imitation to the award ceremony in Berlin for top 12 scholars
  • Total of 35.000 EUR for top 7 scholars
  • Access to alumni network

Application phase starts: 4. May 2015

4. Social Business Award “Ideen gegen Armut”

Austrian social business award for social initiatives aiming at poverty reduction and poverty prevention. Initative by Coca-Cola Austria, Der Standard and NPO & SE Kompetenzzentrum der WU Wien.


  • Impact
  • Efficiency
  • Financial sustainability
  • Feasibility
  • Social Business aspect

Prize: € 80.000

Deadline: unknown – Application phase 1 open!

5. Ashoka Fellowship

Life-long fellowship for social innovations. Fellows have to be nominated.


  • Innovative concept for a societal problem
  • Creativity
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • High social impact
  • Integrity and trustworthiness
  • Proven concept i.e. successful pilot; no projects in business modelling stage


  • €30.000-50.000 annually for a period of 3 years
  • Pro-bono consulting/coaching by McKinsey, Hogan Lovells LLP and Hill & Knowlton Strategies

Alternatives currently not open for applications: