Leveraging CASE Smart Impact Capital to Boost Accelerator Programs

CASE Faculty Director Cathy Clark at FHI Ventures’ pitch event in 2018. Photo Credit: Rachel Morgan, FHI 360

April 2020

Logging onto CASE Smart Impact Capital TM for the first time, Priyanka Rao, Principal at FHI Ventures, was impressed. In the months leading up to finding this online toolkit from the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), Rao and her team had spent weeks researching, talking with experts and working to design the perfect curriculum in preparation for the launch of their accelerator program that provides seed investments and mentorship to social enterprises. Realizing that she could leverage many of the toolkit’s resources to further develop a customized accelerator curriculum, FHI Ventures became a valued CASE Smart Impact Capital partner in 2018.

“While doing research on different tools in the field, I found CASE Smart Impact Capital and realized how we could leverage this content to tailor and add to our own curriculum,” said Rao. “By identifying this early on, we were able to work closely with the teams at Duke and CASE to learn what had already been done and truly create a program that is both extremely helpful and beneficial to the entrepreneur.”

Designed to help impact entrepreneurs prepare for the fundraising process and secure the capital that is best for growing their enterprise, CASE Smart Impact Capital has nine modules that help entrepreneurs strategize, target and close on different impact investment opportunities. In its curriculum, FHI Ventures primarily uses three CASE Smart Impact Capital tools that most closely match its accelerator’s priorities: 1. Business Growth Diagnostic Tool, 2. Investment Roadmap Tool and 3. Impact Evidence Foundation Tool.      

Business Growth Diagnostic Tool

The Business Growth Diagnostic Tool, from CASE Smart Impact Capital’s Module 2, helps organizations assess their strengths and weaknesses in each of the seven critical business growth elements and provides recommendations for next steps to improve. FHI Ventures uses this tool to complement the business plan refinement aspect of their accelerator curriculum, as well as to help identify how to pair entrepreneurs with mentorship opportunities.

“We use the Business Growth Diagnostic Tool at both the beginning and the end of our curriculum to identify how much businesses have grown during their time in the accelerator and to help set them up for the next step and for networking opportunities,” said Rao. “It is really useful to our coaches as well because it helps them figure out how to leverage their expertise to assist the enterprises.”

Investment Roadmap Tool

FHI Ventures also uses the Investment Roadmap Tool to help entrepreneurs identify how they plan to use current and future capital to answer questions about, and prepare for, future investments.

“We conduct surveys with our entrepreneurs to make sure that the tools and resources that we are providing them are useful, and they consistently say that tools that help them forecast for future investments are the most valuable,” said Rao.

Impact Evidence Foundation Tool

Lastly, the Impact Evidence Tool helps entrepreneurs articulate their mission statement, impact story, theory of change and key performance indicators in order to better communicate with investors. FHI Ventures has integrated this into the Capital Raising and Pitch Development components of their curriculum and customized it to fit the individual needs and goals of entrepreneurs.

“One of the aspects that we think is valuable about our curriculum is that it is customized to the entrepreneur,” said Rao. “By having them articulate their theory of change, we are able to customize our mentorship to better serve them.”

For more information about these tools, and to learn about some of the other ways that CASE Smart Impact Capital works with investors and accelerators like FHI Ventures, visit the website.