Quest Ventures and the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) said Tuesday they have launched Asia’s first venture capital-backed accelerator programme to provide financial and non-financial support to seed-stage start-ups in the sustainable impact sector, aimed at improving competencies and providing access to regional and global markets.

Both parties said in a statement that the Sustainable Impact Accelerator will select 30 socially impactful enterprises for funding, disbursing a total amount of SGD1.5 million ($1 million).

Under this programme, socially impactful enterprises can leverage private investors’ capital and resources to supercharge their growth and impact beyond existing markets.

Slated to run from June to August 2022, the accelerator combines the expertise of raiSE and Quest Ventures to support socially impactful enterprises with high potential in scaling up their businesses and impact.

These enterprises should have proven revenues, an enthusiastic user base, and clear intent or track record to integrate human-centred social impact, while also demonstrating potential for double-digit year-on-year growth within the next five years.

Singapore’s Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam highlighted the accelerator as a key initiative that will establish stronger capabilities in the social enterprise ecosystem in Singapore.

He emphasized the need for businesses to mainstream business responsibility, going beyond Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR) to make it an integral part of operations, investor mindset, and stakeholder engagement.

“More companies are recognizing that they are less likely to do well in the long run if they shortchange the future. Shareholders too are beginning to see social and environmental impact as a value creator rather than a cost centre,” he added.

According to the statement, start-ups will receive funding and capability support to drive their next stage of growth, and gain exposure to investors across key cities in Asia as they work towards raising an institutional investment round in the next 12 months.

“Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and impact investing are not new concepts in Singapore and the region, but there is still plenty of room for growth. With the growing appetite for sustainable investments, the accelerator programme will benefit both investors and start-ups in tackling important social issues and gaps,” said James Tan, Managing Partner of Quest Ventures.

Starting with the premise that strong mentorship is a good ignition point, eligible start-ups and businesses will undergo a proven and time-tested accelerator programme designed by Quest Ventures and raiSE around achieving real-world outcomes and tangible impact. They will also receive a pool of “Family Benefits”, the largest such programme in Asia to provide technologies and tools that would help them scale their businesses and impact.

Participants will also gain access to both Quest Ventures’ and raiSE’s diverse network of mentors, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and founders. Together, these resources build on existing seed and early-stage grants provided by raiSE and aim to further support social enterprises on their journey towards developing a sustainable and impactful business model so that they are in a good position to raise subsequent funding.

“This partnership is extremely timely as we observe more start-ups using their businesses as a vehicle to address not just market gaps but also social gaps. Navigating the social impact space may not be easy and that is why raiSE is here to build capacity in impact creation and measurement,” said Mr Alfie Othman, Chief Executive Officer of raiSE.

According to the statement, raiSE’s support for social enterprises as first funder provides the start-ups with patient capital, thus giving them the necessary runway to validate their social impact and accelerate their businesses to gain traction.

RaiSE unveils initiatives to scale up public-private synergies in Singapore’s social ecosystem