Acumen and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship East Africa Accelerator (2020)

Learn to scale your business with IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and Acumen.

Build Your Business


Nov 25, 2019

19 weeks

Learn More

Add your name to the wait list.

Learn how to:

Refine and test hypotheses for developing a scalable business model
Develop a robust social impact and financial strategy
Gain best practices for forming partnerships to achieve scale
Learn from practical case studies of other East African social enterprises that have successfully scaled
Pitch your business to investors and other stakeholders at a final showcase
Build networks with other entrepreneurs and supporters in East Africa and beyond

Refine your business model

Determine the best next steps to reach financial sustainability.

Accelerate your social impact

Change more lives, faster, by focusing on activities that work.

Gain valuable feedback

Tap into the expertise of peers—and Acumen—to solve problems in real-time.

Join a lasting community

Build meaningful relationships with a community of like-minded social innovators.

How it Works

We’ve packaged the steps to support social entrepreneurs to develop a scalable social enterprise model. Over 19 weeks, you and your team will learn the essentials of building a business model that can achieve both social impact and profitability. You will have access to case studies from Acumen social enterprises and curriculum materials that package IKEA’s business knowledge. You will complete your own assignments to apply lessons directly to your business and then join biweekly interactive Learning Labs to give and receive feedback from your peers. You will also receive biweekly individualized coaching from IKEA advisors. 

You should expect to spend at least 8 hours per week working on your project. Most of this work can be done on your own schedule. You will need 1-2 Lead Participants from the leadership team of your social enterprise to show up to the Learning Labs every other week and can have up to 10 people from your social enterprise access all of the curriculum materials. After the program, you can continue to access the online learning materials and peer community. The program will culminate with an in-person Summit hosted in East Africa where you will attend final workshops and have a chance to network and pitch your venture for a chance to win up to $25k in seed funding.

Past Participants

What's Included

    6 Peer Learning Labs

    At least 6 sessions with an IKEA advisor

    Video tutorials

    Case studies from East African social enterprises

    Eligibility to compete for $25k per startup in seed funding

"Today, we have a better understanding of our business and how to scale. We also have more confidence to do experiments and have been able to test our key assumptions.”

John Nyagwencha,

CEO, Aqua Clara Kenya


Module 1

Visions of Scale for Social Enterprise Business Models

  • Understand models for how social enterprises can scale
  • Develop a business model canvas that isolates key hypotheses for how your business model currently comes together
  • Begin to define scenarios for how your social enterprise could successfully scale
Module 2

Customer Insights

  • Clearly define your core customer and value proposition
  • Design customer experiments to test most critical hypothesis
Module 3

Aligning a Pricing, Sales and Marketing Strategy to Your Value Proposition

  • Build a value proposition canvas using data from customer interviews and experiments
  • Refine customer development hypotheses
  • Begin to develop pricing models aligned with your value proposition
  • Learn sales and marketing tactics and strategies for a scaling social enterprise
Module 4

Financial Model

  • Identify your major revenue assumptions and cost assumptions
  • Evaluate whether your current enterprise is “default dead” or “default alive” from a financial perspective
  • Define major financial milestones for next two years

Break for Business Experiments

  • Work with a coach to identify your most critical business hypothesis
  • Design and implement an experiment to validate or invalidate
  • Come back with new data and insights
Module 5

Operational Model: Team and Partnerships

  • Understand common operational models for social enterprises
  • Begin to identify strategic partnerships and understand opportunities to integrate with the supply chain of large companies
  • Align key activities in your business model to a staffing plan
Module 6

Financial Forecasting and Growth Capital

  • Understand the types of impact capital available to social entrepreneurs
  • Identify the right types of capital to finance your business as it scales
  • Uncover opportunities for growth and scale within long term financial models
  • Identify KPIs to keep track of as indicators on your path to scale
Module 7

Pitching the Strategic Story of Your Business

  • Articulate a vision for scaling your social enterprise that pulls together key metrics associated with your operational model, financial model, and customer insights
  • Practice pitching your business to stakeholders

Key Dates


April 28, 2020


April - Sept. 2020

Final Summit

Sept. 8 - 10, 2020

Who is Qualified to Apply?

This in an intensive program delivered primarily online for Social Entrepreneurs in East Africa who:

    Run a social enterprise (nonprofit or for-profit) based in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, or Ethiopia

    Have demonstrated market traction and are post-revenue

    Have a team of at least 5 staff

    Focus on promoting livelihoods, equality and inclusion


How to Qualify

Do I need to be from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia or Rwanda to apply?

You need to be a social entrepreneur running a business with primary operations in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia or Rwanda. You do not need to be a citizen of one of these countries in order to apply.

How will participants be selected?

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. If you are selected for an interview, a member of the Acumen accelerator team will reach out to schedule a 30 minute video call with you on the Zoom platform.

What stage does my social enterprise have to be in order to participate?

This program is designed for social enterprises with demonstrated market traction and, on average, the equivalent to 3 full time staff staff members. In general, you should have raised less than 1 million in seed funding (grant funding or equity).

When and Where

When will the sessions be held?

Most of the coursework can be completed online at your own schedule each week. There will be Learning Labs every other week that will be from 5-7pm Nairobi time where your team’s Lead Participant(s) will have to participate live. The calls with IKEA advisors can be scheduled at times that are mutually convenient for you and your advisor.

Where will the sessions be held?

This is primarily an online program. The biweekly Learning Labs will be hosted virtually on the Zoom platform. You should have a stable internet connection and ability to participate in video calls. The Final Summit will be held in a city in East Africa (exact location TBD).

What are the program dates?

The program will run from April 28-September 10, 2020.

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