Betsy Densmore Answers Questions on the Upcoming SocEnt Challenge (Part One of Three)

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Slow Money SoCal is thrilled to be sponsoring the Food Track for the SocEnt Challenge 2016. A gentle and supportive ‘shark tank’ for social enterprise, the Challenge offers several months of customized technical assistance, culminating in a Showcase in May attended by potential investors.   The due diligence process and prize money is designed to catalyze additional investments from individual and institutional “impact investors” who want their money to provide financial AND social return on investment.

The SocEnt Challenge is based on a highly successful venture competition model first done in Michigan in 2013. Slow Money member Betsy Densmore, of Academies for Social Entrepreneurship is managing the program, backed by local foundations and businesses who prioritize community development and sustainability.

Slow Money SoCal Director of Investment Programs, Michelle Greenwood caught up with Betsy at a recent Slow Money Gathering where she was able to answer a few questions about the upcoming SocEnt Challenge.


  1. What is the SocEnt Challenge?

Answer“Making money while also solving social problems is a deep challenge. SocEnt Challenge is an innovative approach here in Southern California. The initiative aims to give idealistic entrepreneurs practical coaching to meet it.

 The Social Entrepreneurship Venture Challenge (“SocEnt Challenge”) features early-stage ventures meeting community needs in food systems, community development, health and education. It uses a two-pronged approach-first connecting entrepreneurs with skilled business advisors and then introducing them to well-suited investors.”


  1. Why do social enterprises need the SocEnt Challenge?

Answer“Social entrepreneurs often lack knowledge in key areas of business, such as market research, pricing, team-building and distribution. Our aim is to fix that, and match them with appropriate investors”


  1. Who do you see as the most likely participants?

Answer: “We are targeting social enterprises that have a proven concept. Usually they have been in operation for at least six months and having begun selling their product or service.”


  1. Betsy, your background and work with over 200 social entrepreneurs gives you special perspective. Why is social enterprise such a critical approach to solving social problems now?

Answer: “Traditional methods of solving chronic social issues have failed to move the needle to end poverty in America, social enterprises use the free market to address challenges such as environmental cleanup, employing ex-offenders and mitigating ‘food deserts’ in poor neighborhoods.”


You can join us at the Showdown semi-finals event on Saturday, March 19th at Saddleback College. The Showcase finals which will take place in Los Angeles County in early May. The goal is to catalyze at least one million dollars in new investments.

 You can get your tickets and find out more about the SocEnt Challenge here:


Michelle Greenwood who conducted the interview serves as Director of Investment Programs for Slow Money SoCal and was recently appointed for a six-month position as a Kiva Zip Small Business Advisor. She resides in Dana Point, California and can be reached for questions about Slow Money, LINC, Kiva or local investing at


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