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William James Foundation: Seeks Entrepreneurs to Support

Apply for Sustainable Business Plan Competition by November 15, 2013

Submitted by: Mentor Capital Network

Categories: Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Nov 05, 2013 – 09:38 AM EST


WASHINGTON, Nov. 05 /CSRwire/ - The William James Foundation (WJF) is changing how business is done. The foundation identifies and support entrepreneurs who are designing companies for the long-term: building in social and environmental values to create truly sustainable business models.

The WJF does this through a Sustainable Business Plan Competition which provides business plan feedback, mentorship, and investment pipeline for entrepreneurs and investors.

The WJF is looking for companies to apply for their 2014 Competition by November 15th, 2013. Entrepreneurs apply online via The WJF will also accept applications submitted in the past six months to the Unreasonable Institute, Agora Partnerships, Village Capital, or the Telluride Venture Accelerator. Email those to

Applicants must be an entrepreneur with a leadership role at a for-profit company (planned or existing) that has defined social, environmental, and/or cultural goals built into how the money is made. They can be of any age or educational status, and based anywhere in the world. The company must either still be in the planning stage or be open to coaching or mentoring about how it operates.

The WJF offers these benefits to the companies that they work with:

The WJF works with more than 800 reading judges. These are experts that have built, managed, or invested in sustainable business. For the past several years, the WJF has averaged twenty pages of feedback (from 8 to 12 different judges) per plan per round. This is professional level peer review of business ideas from experts who have been down similar paths. Sameer Hajee, founder and CEO of Nuru Energy, recalls: "We’ve won now about 20 awards. But of all those 20 awards, the WJF was the only one where we actually had access to a lot of the feedback from the judges and it was fantastic in helping us to adapt the model. We just put together our business plan for this next fundraising round and I went back to all the WJF judges’ comments to see whether or not we had addressed some of the issues that were raised there. That’s been really helpful for us, even two, three years after we won the award."

Three-Fourths of WJF reading judges chose to sign their scorecards, giving the entrepreneur an option to connect with industry leaders as potential mentors, customers, investors, and champions. Egg Energy Co-Founder Alla Jezmirsays: "It was wonderful. Provoc, one of the In-Kind prize sponsors, developed an excellent graphic that we used to explain our business model, which is a tough thing to capture. Also, the access to the social finance and the entrepreneurial space has been terrific through the network. We’ve met a lot of great people, people who have become huge supporters."

We are providing constructive commentary on actual business plans. By drawing up these plans in detail, entrepreneurs get a big picture view of what their company can do. Tricia Compas-Markman, founder and CEO of DayOne Response, says, “For social enterprises that are in that early stage prior taking on investment, I really think that all [of those] companies should be involved with the WJF competition because it provides immediate feedback on your plan, even if you only get through the first round. The feedback helped build our team focus. It should be in the entrepreneur handbook – you’ve got to do WJF.”

Every year, some of the biggest names in sustainable business have shown their support for The William James Foundation by offering their professional services and products to the top companies. They get to help the next generation of social entrepreneurs, and receive promotion and access to new clients. The 2014 prize pool – a combination of cash and professional services (legal, website, design, etc.) -- will be worth more than $100,000.

Participation in the WJF business plan competition significantly increases an entrepreneur’s chance to be a part of the WJF "Green Grab" program, which puts companies in front of accredited investors to pitch for professional debt or equity investment. Shanker Sahai, whose company Greenbean Recycle, received investment from Jigar Shah and other WJF judges and mentors, said that "Finding a stage where green or social entrepreneurs like us can speak to impact investors about their passion to solve a problem and change people's behavior on how their small efforts make a big impact to the environment around them is difficult, the William James Foundation provided that stage and audience." Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison, noted that “Impact Investing in the climate change solutions space is not easy. The William James Foundation separates the folks who just have a good heart and the folks, like Greenbean Recycle, that also have the skills to create climate wealth.”

The Foundation connects entrepreneurs to other people trying to solve similar problems in different markets. Mozambikes Co-founder Lauren Thomas says, "Presenting our business in front of some of the world's prominent social business thinkers [at the Annual Gathering] was a really great exercise, and we really enjoyed the questions from the audience. We especially enjoyed the breakout session with the cycling gang, which was really fun since we got to meet other social entrepreneurs out there using bicycles for their innovative solutions. We’re already helping each other get connected to some other potentially helpful industry players."

For more information, please contact:

Ian Fisk Executive Director
Phone: 202 365 4570

For more from this organization:

Mentor Capital Network


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