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our mission

Our goal is to prepare your business for investment so you can scale your impact. To do this, we will help you:

  • - Optimize your business model for scale

  • - Identify what type of capital will be best for your growth

  • - Identify and justify the amount of funding you need to reach the next level

  • - Instill the operational discipline into your business to be successful

We have worked with 250 social entrepreneurs since 2003. Join the likes of, VisionSpring, Equal Access, Fundacion Paraguaya, Build Change, and IDE India and set yourself up for success.


who should apply

The GSBI works with entrepreneurs whose organizations are addressing the worlds most pressing problems with market-based solutions. This includes for-profits, non-profits, and hybrids with impact in base of pyramid communities, or, whose primary beneficiaries are living below the poverty line. The social entrepreneur who attends should hold a senior leadership role within the organization, with the authority to make top-level strategic decisions.

This program is for leaders of social enterprises that:

  • - Place equal or greater emphasis on social impact vs. financial return

  • - Serve the underserved (those that for reasons of economics, gender, geography, etc. have unequal access to energy, clean water, information and communication technology, education, health, or economic development and livelihood opportunities)

  • - Address a problem that affects more than one million people worldwide

  • - Have a product or service with measurable social impact

The social entrepreneur must be committed to creating an organization that:

  • - Is capable of attaining financial sustainability

  • - Reaches increasingly larger numbers of beneficiaries

  • - Measures systematically their social impact

Minimum eligibility for the program:

  • - Demonstrated impact in base of pyramid communities

  • - Validated business model

  • - Proven technology, product, or service

  • - Operational for at least two years


our program

GSBI believes innovation and entrepreneurship provide a path out of poverty. We build the capacity of entrepreneurs dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing issues. Executive mentorship combined with structured curriculum are the foundation of our theory of change. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley at Santa Clara University, we offer a unique combination of Silicon Valley acumen and a humble Jesuit ethos that support social entrepreneurs around the world through their entire lifecycle. 

Begun in 2003 with a small pilot group, GSBI has made giant strides:

  • - 250 enterprises have completed GSBI programs

  • - The lives of nearly 100 million have been positively impacted by these enterprises

  • - 90% of GSBI alumni are still in business

  • - 40% of the enterprises are scaling, meaning that impact is growing in a financially sustainable manner. (This scaling rate is more than three times that of conventional for-profit ventures. $89 million of funding has been raised by enterprises post-GSBI programs) 

The GSBI Accelerator aims to scale high potential social enterprises, by preparing entrepreneurs for the investment process and addressing internal gaps to scaling their organization. 


The ten month program includes: 

Feb. - May: Mentored, online work; Entrepreneurs and mentors go through several modules aimed at strengthening the business and improving the business plan. 

June: Entrepreneurs who complete the mentored online work and demonstrate that their enterprise is ready for the August in-residence program will be invited to phase II of the GSBI Accelerator. Entrepreneurs who do not meet this criteria will work out a plan with GSBI to join a future GSBI cohort.

July: Final mentored, online work to prepare for August In-residence

August: In-residence at Santa Clara University includes: class sessions, working groups, and networking events with industry experts, CEOs, VCs, and impact investors. The entrepreneurs develop the implementation plan for scaling their enterprises. 

Sep. - Nov: Mentors continue to offer support as the entrepreneurs implement their plans to scale. 

Five content experts lead work with GSBI staff and mentors to deliver curriculum and training to address the following:

  • - Impact model and metrics, business model evaluation and refinement

  • - Marketing strategy and execution

  • - Operational excellence at scale

  • - Organizational development and talent management

  • - Financing plan for scaling and preparation for diligence


cost to participate

The program is offered at no cost to participating entrepreneurs. Participants are only expected to pay for roundtrip airfare to San Jose or San Francisco, California for the August in-residence. Program staff time, in-residence meals, and accommodations are all paid for through the fundraising efforts of the GSBI. The GSBI is part of the nonprofit, Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, that raises funds year-round through individuals, foundations, and corporations in order to offer programs free of charge to the organizations selected into GSBI programs.


GSBI Application Timeline

* The mentoring and coursework require approximately 5-10 hours per week from participants. This requirement may decrease or increase given the particular deliverable and/or the stage of the organization given a particular exercise (i.e. how developed the business plan is). 

Program and coursework progress is constantly monitored by the GSBI.  In June, the GSBI will review the progress of all participants and identify those whose enterprises will benefit from the in-residence component of the program. Those entrepreneurs will be invited to the August in-residence and will have the opportunity to present at the Investor Showcase. Entrepreneurs who are not invited to the August in-residence will develop a plan with the GSBI team to be included in a future GSBI cohort.


the application


The deadline for the 2015 GSBI Accelerator has passed. We will make the rolling application available soon. Please check back. 

If you want an edge in the application process, or just need a refresher on some terminology, see the accompanying Application Resource Guide. It borrows from GSBI’s tried and tested curriculum and will help you refresh things like your mission statement, value proposition, and business plan summary.




selection process

Completed applications will be evaluated based on the strength of their Impact & Business Model, Marketing & Sales, Operations Model, Management & Team, and Financials using a Capabilities Assessment Matrix (CAM)*. 

Submitted applications will determine which 40 entrepreneurs are invited to a phone interview with 4-6 GSBI staff and mentors. 

The strength of the application and performance on a 30-minute interview will determine the finalists selected to begin the program.  

Successful applicants will be able to demonstrate:

  • - Compelling business model Metrics provide proof that impact model has desired social impact

  • - Marketing plan: Evidence that customers receive value of the product/service and are willing to use or pay (as appropriate) for it. 

  • - Operating plan with budget

  • - Management positions critical to start up are filled

  • - Financing plan for start-up, including financial history since inception of enterprise

  • - Financial statements that document investments, revenue, and expenses to date

All semifinalists will receive a completed CAM as feedback, which will illustrate our selection criteria and the strengths and gaps perceived by the evaluation committee.

* Borrowed from Acumen Fund and adapted by GSBI for program screening and curriculum development

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