It’s difficult to convey the impact that Miller Center’s In-Residence has if you haven’t participated in one. It’s one of those experiences that doesn’t fully resonate until after you’ve gone through it. Our team often jokes that Miller Center is one of the best-kept secrets in the social enterprise ecosystem.
This past October, Miller Center hosted this year’s 2023 Fall In-Residence cohort at Santa Clara University followed by sponsoring them at the SOCAP conference in San Francisco. The 12 stellar enterprises invited to participate this year represented some of Miller Center’s most scalable, impactful, and investable enterprise alumni. They operate in sectors including sustainable agriculture and food security, financial services, maternal health, clean energy, emerging market entrepreneurship, ethical fashion, and the circular economy. These 12 organizations were invited to come to In-Residence because their businesses are quite literally disrupting the structures that allow poverty to exist and the earth to be degraded.
During the Welcome Reception on the first day of In-Residence, the 12 participating enterprise alumni had an opportunity to present to the broader Miller Center and Santa Clara University communities, and share their collective raise of more than $100 million in capital that will further enable them to create solutions and even new ecosystems that are decentralized, can scale at a pace that meets market demands, and shifts power back into the hands of those most vulnerable. Additionally this year, Miller Center awarded the 2023 Impact Excellence Award to IluMexico and Sistema.bio, two inspiring alumni who have scaled by orders of magnitude since their initial participation in a Miller Center program.
Concentric Circles of Entrepreneur-centric Support
What was particularly amazing about this year’s In-Residence was the sheer number of partners who came together all with the shared goal of supporting the enterprises in this cohort. What sets Miller Center’s programs apart from other accelerator programs in the ecosystem is that we truly do take an entrepreneur-centric approach to supporting entrepreneurs. Our core model is a trifecta approach in which we connect social entrepreneurs with executive mentors and Santa Clara University students to create real-world impact.
But recognizing that real change only happens when you broaden your sphere of influence, this year an unprecedented number of impact investor partners, SCU faculty, corporate partners like ServiceNow, and other Miller Center entrepreneur alumni came to In-Residence, all with the intention of providing a continuum of support to this year’s cohort. Much like concentric circles, where each circle gets larger and larger but still shares a common center; this cohort was surrounded by many concentric circles of support.
A big part of In-Residence is the opportunity for social enterprises to participate in mock investor panels. Miller Center was thrilled to have funding partners like DRK, FINCA, IMPAQTO, Segal Family Foundation, and Upaya Social Ventures participate as panelists in these sessions this year. Additionally, this was the first year that other Miller Center entrepreneur alumni were invited to serve either as mock investors themselves or help facilitate a session or workshop on relevant topics such as networking best practices, presentation skills, HR and talent management, Carbon Credits, and the current hot topic, Artificial Intelligence (AI). Leaders from Awaaz.de, Grameen Foundation, Husk Power Systems, IluMexico, Jibu, Sistema.bio, and Vega Coffee all participated and provided invaluable insights to the current cohort. 2003 was the first year that Miller Center hosted its inaugural In-Residence at Santa Clara University and it’s remarkable that 20 years later, the Miller Center alumni community has not just grown and scaled, but the entrepreneurs in this network choose to stay connected and support each other. It truly is a tremendous group of humans.
Everyone needs a community, and it was incredible that so many people came to In-Residence this year to support a small but mighty group of women and men who could literally do anything with their lives, yet choose to dedicate themselves to accelerating a world without poverty. It’s humbling, it’s inspiring, it’s #socentric!
A heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in making this year’s In-Residence a success. In the words of our Executive Director, Brigit Helms, “We truly are better together!”