Exploring scaling programmes for social ventures

Key challenges and good practices in supporting social ventures to grow: an initial scoping study


Footprints Africa approached UnLtd and GSEN (Global Social Entrepreneurship Network) to learn what really makes a difference in accelerator and similar support programmes. The answer was: “that’s a good question” and so began an exploration to learn from the wisdom of others. The goal was not statistically significant quants, but real-life verified experience that Footprints could use to design its strategy. The research explored a variety of organisations, with different approaches and funding models. As part of Footprints’ and UnLtd’s shared philosophy of sharing lessons widely, we wanted to make sure these insights were published.

Footprints has now begun piloting in Ghana, putting into practice the lessons learnt from the research and trialing different combinations of support. You can follow our progress at www.footprintsafrica.co


This research aims to provide social entrepreneurship support organisations and practitioners with a practical understanding of good practice and challenges in setting up scaling programmes.

We believe that summarizing existing knowledge on setting up scaling programmes, especially pointing out potential challenges that may arise in the process, can help support organisations to better design new programmes and improve existing ones. Additionally, through a small selection of case studies, we highlight practical solutions to address some of these challenges.

We focused on programme support organisations’ needs and experiences, rather than on those of programme participants or investors. From this approach, we began to explore the following questions:

  • What is the best business model(s) for an organisation/practitioner seeking to support entrepreneurs to scale impact?
  • What combinations of support, including financial and non-financial support, are most effective?
  • What is the most effective way to deliver support; from one-to-one to cohort-based, from standardised to tailored?

Download the report