Frequently Asked Questions

For startupsFor professionalsFor studentsFor partnersOther queries

Key information about the Incubation Programme

I am a social entrepreneur. Is the Bridges for Enterprise Incubation Programme really free?

Yes! Our programme is 100% free and we don’t take any equity stake in your business.

How does the Incubation Programme work and how long does the entire programme last?

The BfE Incubation Programme is a completely remote, multi-stage business incubator with two required engagements — Consulting and Finance Advisory — and two optional engagements — Legal and Technical Advisory. There are two cycles per year for startups to begin the Incubation Programme. The entire programme lasts between 6 and 8 months, depending on the startup’s requests and the chapter teams it works with. Startups will first undergo the Consulting Advisory engagement (3-4 months) before continuing on to the Finance Advisory engagement (3-4 months). Legal and Technical Advisory engagements take place simultaneously with Consulting and Finance Advisory should the startup need additional support in these areas and BfE has the necessary capacity to assist at that time.

Does Bridges for Enterprise provide funding for my startup?

Unfortunately, BfE does not guarantee a funding source for startups at this time, although our Finance Advisory engagements focus on making your business ready to approach investors and attract capital. For more information regarding Finance Advisory, click here.

Eligibility and selection process

How does BfE define social entrepreneurship?

We use a broad definition of social entrepreneurship: any for-profit or non-profit business that can make a credible claim to provide societal impact could be considered a social enterprise. Typically, these businesses generate revenue and are focused on maximizing both financial and social returns for their stakeholders in a measurable way.

What growth stage does my business have to be in to apply for the Incubation Programme?

BfE works with early-stage ventures at the pre-seed and seed stage funding levels.

What countries does BfE source its startup clients from?

As a global organisation, BfE is not limited to one geographical region. BfE sources startups from countries on the low, medium, and high development tiers based on the UN Human Development Index (HDI), which is a composite aggregate score of a country’s life expectancy, education levels and per capita income. As a result, BfE has worked with startups based in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Southeast Asia, South Asia and Latin America in the past.

What criteria does BfE use to evaluate the startups that apply for its Incubation Programme?

BfE evaluates startup applicants based on a holistic set of criteria. We first establish that the startup meets our basic eligibility criteria and then examine the startup’s current business model; product or service; social and/or environmental impact; communication; management; and advisory need. For more detailed information on our review process, click here.

What is the application process like and how soon should I expect a response from your organisation?

After submitting your application online, you will receive an invitation to a video interview within one month if we think you would be a good fit for the BfE Incubation Programme. We may also invite you for a second interview. Both interviews will be held online and will discuss in more detail your startup’s business operations and social impact, as well as the advisory support you would like to receive. Every year, decisions for admission to our Autumn Cohort are made in July and admissions to our Spring Cohort are decided in December.

Can I reapply during a later application cycle if I am not accepted into the Incubation Programme initially?

Yes, we encourage you to reapply! Startups will not be penalized during future application cycles for not being accepted the first time around.

What happens during the programme

How does BfE match my startup with one of its chapters to begin its advisory engagements?

After being accepted into the Incubation Programme, BfE matches startups to chapters based on multiple factors, including the chapter’s current capacity and capabilities, the time zone differences between the entrepreneur and the chapter, and the holistic preferences of the chapter teams to work with certain startups. For continuity, startups can expect to work with multiple teams (e.g. Consulting, Finance Advisory) within the same chapter for the duration of the Incubation Programme.

If I am accepted into the Incubation Programme, how much interaction will I have with student consultants and professional mentors?

While interaction levels between entrepreneurs, student consultants and professional mentors can vary depending on the particular needs of the engagement, entrepreneurs can expect to receive ongoing support during each engagement round from both stakeholders. Typically, the student teams complete multiple deliverables for the startup during the engagement while receiving continual input and guidance from professional mentors with relevant experience for the startup’s needs. For more information, please visit this page.

What happens after the programme

Once I conclude the Incubation Programme, what happens next?

After completing the Incubation Programme, all startup alumni are invited to join the BfE Network, which gives entrepreneurs access to helpful resources and continual support from our global community of professionals. Additionally, BfE will strive to maintain semi-regular communication with you to follow your entrepreneurial journey and promote the impact your business makes to our global audience on Facebook, Medium and other social media platforms.

Is it possible to receive a certificate or promotional seal for my participation in the Incubation Programme?

Yes, please contact jordan.wolken@bridgesforenterprise.com if you’re interested in receiving either.

Connecting with us

Are there other ways for social entrepreneurs to engage with Bridges for Enterprise besides getting involved in the Incubation Programme?

Yes! While the Incubation Programme is our core offering, there are definitely other ways to engage with BfE. We post regular updates to our social media pages, blog posts with startup founders and other professionals in the social impact ecosystem, host free public events virtually, write a newsletter, and more. If you’re looking for something else, feel free to reach out to us at startup.recruitment@bridgesforenterprise.com. We’re always willing to explore how to create a larger impact together.

How can I spread the word about Bridges for Enterprise to other social entrepreneurs?

We would love it if you could spread the word about our organisation to other social entrepreneurs. We are currently considering piloting a BfE Ambassador Programme, which we hope to announce soon. In the meantime, please feel free to post any information about BfE on your social media and tag our accounts so we can re-share it for greater reach!

What types of professionals are you seeking? Do I have to work in a specific industry or sector to be eligible?

BfE welcomes professionals from a variety of industries to graciously volunteer their time in supporting our startups and student teams. The only requirement is that you are passionate about and committed to achieving positive social change. For more detailed information about who we’re looking for, please click here.

I am a working professional interested in your organisation. How can I get involved?

BfE provides three primary avenues below for professionals to join us in a volunteer capacity. These mentorship opportunities are not mutually exclusive, allowing for additional flexibility depending on the goals of the professional. Professionals can indicate their interest in these respective opportunities in the application form:

  • Incubation Mentorship — provide mentorship directly on an Incubation Programme engagement with a startup and student team
  • Capacity-building Mentorship — be available to offer ad-hoc support requests from startups or student teams on specific sectoral, geographical, or task-based topics
  • Thought Leadership — be available to support BfE by speaking at future events, writing articles for BfE’s blog, or publishing other insights for organisational growth
I am a working professional that stumbled across your website and is ready to join BfE. What is the application process like?

Thanks for checking out our organisation! The application form is available year-round and reviewed on a rolling basis. We encourage you to apply when you feel ready — the application takes less than 10 minutes and someone from our team will get back to you thereafter. If you have any additional questions before applying, please reach out to us at mentor@bridgesforenterprise.com.

What are the benefits of joining BfE as a professional mentor?

BfE offers professionals the opportunity to use their unique skillsets to address social challenges by empowering social enterprises in developing countries. By joining BfE as a professional mentor, you will also become part of our global community of professionals from some of the top firms in various industries while empowering the next generation of students to be global changemakers.

Do I have to be based in one of the cities where BfE has a chapter in order to become a professional mentor?

Nope! We recruit professionals from all over the world who have a suitable skillset and passion for social impact.

How much interaction will I have with your startup clients as a professional mentor?

Interaction levels will vary depending on the type of professional mentor you are. Professionals who are matched for incubation engagements, as well as those providing ad-hoc support to startups, will likely have more interaction with entrepreneurs than professionals who opt to only contribute to creating thought leadership content.

Can I earn income from supporting Bridges for Enterprise?

No, BfE relies on the generosity of professional mentors who graciously volunteer their time to support the mission of our organisation.

I have additional questions that were not answered from this FAQ. Who should I contact?

Please reach out to our team at mentor@bridgesforenterprise.com with any additional questions.

Who is eligible to apply to join Bridges for Enterprise?

BfE welcomes university students from all over the world that are passionate about catalyzing sustainable development and empowering passionate entrepreneurs to create social impact. Each BfE chapter is comprised of primarily undergraduate students, however some Master’s and PhD students are eligible to join too depending on each individual chapter’s recruitment guidelines.

When do applications open to join one of the BfE chapters?

Each BfE chapter handles its student recruitment process separately based on current and expected vacancies. The application process for each chapter is slightly different and typically involves multiple steps before being invited to join a BfE chapter. For information about application details and timelines, please follow chapter-specific social media platforms for updates or contact chapter leaders using the chapter-specific recruitment email addresses. More details about each chapter can be found here.

What roles are available with Bridges for Enterprise?

There are a variety of positions available within each chapter to effectively cater to any student based on their interests and skillsets. Although each chapter may have different position availabilities at any one time, below is a general overview of the roles within each chapter for students currently uninvolved with BfE. Please note that not all chapters have each of these teams already created, as certain chapters are in different stages of their own development.

Roles within our incubation teams:

  • Consulting Associate
  • Finance Advisory Associate
  • Legal Advisory Associate
  • Technical Advisory Associate

Roles within our programme development teams:

  • Startup Recruitment Associate
  • Growth & Partnerships Associate
  • Communications Associate
  • Technology Associate (Data Analytics and Software Development)
I am a student located in one of the cities with a current BfE chapter. Who should I contact with any chapter-specific questions?

Thanks for your interest! All chapter-specific questions should be directed to the following email addresses:

Cambridge — cambridge@bridgesforenterprise.com
Singapore — singapore@bridgesforenterprise.com
New York — newyork@bridgesforenterprise.com
Rotterdam — rotterdam@bridgesforenterprise.com
Vancouver — vancouver@bridgesforenterprise.com

I am a student interested in joining BfE, but there is no chapter where I am located. Is there a way to still be involved?

Yes! We recruit passionate and qualified students to join BfE in various roles on an as-needed basis even if you’re not based within one of our chapters. Please follow our global social media platforms to look out for upcoming opportunities or submit a general application to global.recruitment@bridgesforenterprise.com with your CV and a brief cover letter detailing your skillset and interests.

Does BfE offer internships?

Yes! Please follow our global social media platforms to look out for upcoming opportunities. Internships are typically offered during the summer with options for selected interns to continue working with us thereafter. Internships will be managed by one of our global team members with various opportunities for personal and professional development.

Who should I reach out to if I want to start a BfE chapter at my university?

BfE is actively looking to expand our global footprint and continue our mission to accelerate positive social change. Please visit “Start a Chapter” section in this page for more details. You may fill in the application form there to schedule a discussion about organisational expansion and our chapter pilot strategy.

What types of responsibilities can I expect during a typical incubation engagement with one of BfE’s clients?

All BfE incubation engagements are conducted remotely with multiple key touch-points during the 3-4 month process. Student associates typically work in teams to address startup-specific challenges before providing tailored strategic recommendations intended for long-term implementation. Each engagement is unique and meant to provide a tangible professional experience for student associates similar to daily responsibilities found at an impact consulting firm.

Will there be opportunities to stay involved with BfE after student members graduate?

Yes! Graduating students have the opportunity to remain involved with BfE by applying to join our global team as a global manager. Global managers oversee a specific division within the entire organisation and provide strategic oversight and guidance to all chapters. Applications typically open in April/May and positions are filled during the summer. If you are currently part of a BfE chapter and have questions about global positions, please contact global.recruitment@bridgesforenterprise.com.

What types of partnerships does Bridges for Enterprise seek?

Our organisation seeks partners that can contribute financially to startups in our Incubation Programme (as well as startup alumni), in addition to non-financial partners that support our entrepreneurs, student teams and/or outreach efforts. Non-financial partnerships might include providing additional resources for our stakeholders, promoting our brand to new audiences, or assisting us with startup recruitment efforts.

Which organisations does BfE partner with?

You can find out more about our current partners here.

What benefits will my organisation receive if I partner with Bridges for Enterprise?

BfE partnerships are designed to benefit both parties through mutually agreed-upon terms. As a BfE partner, your organisation will be recognized for helping to support social entrepreneurs tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues while gaining additional brand recognition through various promotional efforts. We encourage you to contact us at partnerships@bridgesforenterprise.com if you think there would be a potential partnership opportunity worth exploring.

Are BfE partners obligated to support startups financially?

No, BfE partners are not obligated to financially support startups in any way.

I work for an organisation that may want to partner with Bridges for Enterprise. Who should I reach out to?

Please reach out to partnerships@bridgesforenterprise.com and someone from our organisation will get in contact with you. We look forward to being in touch!

I am a current or former BfE partner. Who should I contact with a specific request or question?

Please contact partnerships@bridgesforenterprise.com and someone from our organisation will get in contact with you.

Does Bridges for Enterprise earn money from its service offerings?

No, we don’t currently earn any revenue from our work, although we do receive generous in-kind support from the Google for Nonprofits and Microsoft for Nonprofits programmes.

Who runs Bridges for Enterprise on a day-to-day basis?

As an all-volunteer organisation, BfE is overseen by an expansive global team that works across five divisions: Incubation, Outreach, Operations, Impact Research, and Technology. Each division is managed by a Global Head who oversees global managers with specific responsibilities centred around providing guidance and support to BfE chapters. At this global level, BfE relies on the continued support of former chapter leaders and current full-time professionals who dedicate their precious time to continue driving impact.

How can I stay updated and engaged with BfE?

On social media, our organisation is most active on LinkedIn and Facebook. We also publish blog posts on our Medium page, in addition to writing a free newsletter that you can subscribe to at the footer of this page.

I work for a media organisation that may want to write a story about Bridges for Enterprise. Who should I reach out to?

Please contact outreach@bridgesforenterprise.com for any media inquiries.

What Is Bridges Initiative and Bridges for Charity? Are they related to Bridges for Enterprise?

Yes! Bridges Initiative is the umbrella organisation housing Bridges for Enterprise and Bridges for Charity (BfC), making BfC the sister organisation of BfE. Bridges Initiative is domiciled under Swiss charity law.