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Calling for would-be CEOs with a social conscience

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You might think starting a business is hard enough—much less starting one which seeks to deliver social benefits as well as financial ones.

But social impact strategist and Canberra Woman of the Year Cindy Mitchell (pictured above, center) says there are now clear advantages to embracing social outcomes within business.

Around the world, businesses are embracing a kinder, more ethical and sustainable edge—and consumers are responding. And in Canberra, Cindy is helping fledgeling start-ups with a vision for social change turn their ideas into financiallysustainable realities.

As Chief Executive Officer of The Mill House Ventures, the social innovation node within the Canberra Innovation Network based at the University of Canberra, Cindy is responsible for the development of a support program for new social enterprises and aspiring social entrepreneurs in Canberra and the surrounding region.

The Mill House mission is to grow a high-quality pipeline of investible and scalable social ventures for corporate, foundation and individual social impact investors. And it is open to new pitches for business ideas for its 2020 program

Cindy, an American who migrated to Canberra in 2003, worked as a venture capital investment manager and in technology commercialisation.

Since founding Mill House in 2016, she has helped secure over $500,000 of investments for social impact. Each year, Mill House assists between 300-400 businesses—including success stories such as Altina Drinks, The Climate Factory and Base Soaps.

Cindy Mitchell.

Cindy says often people have strong desires to make a change for good and need assistance in networking and strategising to ensure the business can also sustain itself.

Others have a good business idea but want to build a transparent impact narrative, to be accountable for measurable change and distinguish their business from ones that simply practice a form of corporate social responsibility.

Knowing how to make the right connections and build a sustainable enterprise either way was key, and Mill House has become a hub for turbo-charging ideas which can make a difference.

If you are a Canberra Region entrepreneur who is looking to pivot your business-for-purpose, or if you are you social changemaker interested in using the tools of business to sustain your impact, then Cindy wants to hear from you.

Mill House Ventures currently has 10 subsidised places in their flagship Accelerator program GRIST.

Social entrepreneurs could leverage a $10 000 investment to bring their idea to fruition.

In the middle of the midst of the COVID pandemic, GRIST is operating a fully virtual program and the current round of applications is due by 15 June.

The GRIST program has graduated over 50 Social Enterprise Ventures, and the Clinic has provided more than 1000 hours of one-on-one support, activating more than 100 Associates (Student Interns), 60 mentors, and countless beneficiaries.

Accelerator participants have raised more than $200,000 from their communities to start their Social Enterprise businesses. More than 60 percent of the cohort are women and more than 29 nationalities are represented.

“Social enterprises make a lot of business sense these days because people want to work where they can create a meaningful and measurable impact and people want to buy from people who are doing good things in the world.”

To check out all the details of upcoming information sessions, program timelines and a video for those new to the concept of social enterprise, go here.

Applications for subsidies places can be submitted here.

Feature image: Ben Yosef.

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