Business Incubators Increase Nonprofit and For-profit Odds of Successback

 Every organization can use a pied piper – a leader who inspires people to follow. New York Women Social Entrepreneurs (NYWSE) has two: Natalia Oberti Noguera, director, and Allison Lynch, incubator manager. They recruited me to screen applicants for the program, provide training, and be a mentor.

In addition, they recruited Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College and its Small Business Development Center to provide core technical training in entrepreneurship and Angela Jia Kim, owner of the luxury and eco-friendly skincare company Om Aroma & Co. and founder of Savor Success for professional development training. 

Six budding women social entrepreneurs were selected from a competitive pool of applicants to participate in the NYWSE Incubator. The entrepreneurs were assigned a female mentor, a female apprentice and were provided many opportunities for peer support. The teams worked for six months to realize the entrepreneurs’ social ventures with the support of workshops, resources, classes, coaching, and pitch opportunities.

2009 NYWSE social entrepreneurs were:

  • Early Earners – Online education destination for youth and families promoting positive financial habits
  • Girl Guides USA – Outdoor program that develops girls’ environmentalism, leadership and teamwork
  • Illume – Online mentoring and career resource for young women from illiterate families in India
  • Out Against Abuse – Online resource to stop domestic violence in the South Asian community    
  • Public Stuff – Software to connect government and citizens to improve services and community life
  • Start Your Engine – Exercise, nutrition, stress and time management program for low-income women

Over the course of the six months, the entrepreneurs’ progress was nothing short of transformational. One of the incubator companies, PublicStuff, was selected for a $50,000+ investment over two years by the Fast Forward Fund (FFF). Other entrepreneurs accomplished their goal of completing their business plan, putting together a pilot program or (re)designing their website.

The final event was presentations by each to a panel of experts who provided additional feedback. The experts hailed from diverse social enterprise fields ranging from women’s and children’s rights, to economic development, to venture capital, to social enterprise support, and small business development.  Another expert critiqued presentations from a public speaking perspective. Experts included:

Elmira Bayrasli, Vice President of Partnerships, Policy, and Outreach, Endeavor (

Monica Dean, A. Director, Field Center for Entrepreneurship, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College ( and NYWSE Incubator Training Partner

Rob Delman, Managing Director, Golden Seeds (

Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness Programs, Eileen Fisher (

LaTeisha Moore, Member of the Board/Founding Member, New York Venture Philanthropy Fund (

Ana Oliveira, Executive Director, New York Women’s Foundation (   

These entrepreneurs made huge strides in accomplishing their goals and increasing their odds of success. One way they did this was to hold each other accountable to the goals they set, which is something many entrepreneurs have a hard time doing by themselves. What’s your secret for staying accountable to your goals?