The CASE office was abuzz in early 2012. We had the opportunity to be part of a trailblazing initiative for both the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Duke University itself.
USAID, in pursuing ways to accelerate growth and innovation in international development work, decided to test a new partnership with universities—where the ideas and research are cutting-edge, and where the next generation of international development professionals are in training. Duke was one of thousands to submit a proposal under this new initiative. After months of due diligence, we were selected as one of only eight university programs to receive an award under USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network. In 2013, the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) was launched!
What is SEAD?
The SEAD proposal was, in and of itself, groundbreaking. It took an unusual interdisciplinary approach, bringing together expertise and insights from the Fuqua School of Business, Duke Health, the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), and the Sanford School of Public Policy, in addition to Investors’ Circle, the world’s largest early-stage impact investing network (located here in Durham). CASE co-led the program with Duke Health’s Innovations in Healthcare, with CASE bringing a decade of experience understanding how organizations scale their impact and, specifically, how impact investing can be a part of the scaling effort.
After five years of active programming, data collection, research, and reflection, CASE and our partners are excited to share what we have learned and catalyzed through SEAD:
- We learned about the challenges of assessing ventures’ stage of growth and which proxy measures work better than others.
- We learned about the factors that matter most when creating a successful peer cohort.
- We learned about the challenges and opportunities in bringing more investment capital into the global health space, and the common roadblocks global health ventures face in accessing that funding.
- We learned about the challenges in balancing the research interests of academic researchers and enterprises.
Over the past several years, we have turned much of this learning into tools and practical knowledge for the field. These include tools such as CASE Smart Impact Capital, the DGHI Evidence Lab Evaluation Toolkit, and the Investors’ Circle Co-Investor Alignment Assessment, and reports such as Fundraising for Global Health Social Enterprises: Lessons from the Field and Healthcare Innovation in East Africa: Navigating the Ecosystem. Join us in reflecting on and celebrating the insights, knowledge, and tools that came out of our five years with SEAD in our newly released SEAD Highlights Report.