This global incubator shows that social entrepreneurs can actually be successful

2 min read
12 Jun 2019

Startup Guide Paris Vol. 2 includes a section on programs (accelerators and incubators) in the French capital, and one really stands out. makesense has a simple mission: to engage citizens around the world to create social change and foster collaborations between citizens, corporations and social entrepreneurs to reshape a more inclusive economy.

We were one of the first incubators talking about innovation and social impact.

Consisting of a global network of more than 80,000 citizens, the program has supported more than 3,000 projects since it was founded in 2010. More concretely, makesense runs five incubator programs in major cities, including Paris.

[ Read also: ‘Successful startup hubs are global’: Is Paris on the right track? ]

The idea of the year-long program is to “use technology and digitalization to have a positive effect on industries,” says Mathilde Thorel, who heads up the entrepreneurship programs in France and worldwide.

A number of innovative startups have come out of the incubation and acceleration programs.

These range from environmental startups such as Too Good To Go (an app that resells restaurant leftovers at bargain prices to prevent food waste) to initiatives aimed at reshaping the criminal justice system, such as the alternative sentencing program Chantiers-Passerelles.

Typically, entrepreneurs spend six months in-residence developing and prototyping their solution to an environmental or social problem, then another six months fine-tuning their business models surrounded by experts and mentors.

They also have access to a much wider community of activists and citizens willing to support their social project.

makesense has shown that you can actually have success stories with impact-driven models.

“We were one of the first incubators talking about innovation and social impact,” Mathilde says.

“Now I’m glad to say that this is more well spread. makesense has shown that you can actually have success stories with impact-driven models.”

The makesense office in Paris. Photo: Startup Guide

The makesense incubator has aspirations to design more programs to be able to support more social entrepreneurs, no matter their stage of development.

In Paris, it recently launched its first fund dedicated to covering the investment gap for early-stage startups. It also recently launched a resource-sharing platform where entrepreneurs can access open-source resources to help them start up their companies. It aims to grow its network to three million citizens worldwide.

Checklist for those interested in joining makesense

Make an impact.

The most important thing is the potential for impact. We want to make sure you have a positive impact on society and the environment.

Have a sustainable business model.

We want you to design a sustainable model but also have a willingness to grow and become global.

Be innovative.

We encourage you to make the best of digital solutions and technologies to grow your impact.

Bring on a powerful team.

All of this is nothing if you don’t have the right team.

[ Read also: 10 cities across the globe to launch your startup in 2019 ]

Main photo of the makesense office in Paris by Startup Guide