The winners of the SoFiMa project incubation programs have been announced

Demo Day participants and organizers

On February 3, the six-month incubation programs of the SoFiMa project culminated at the University of Tartu Delta Center. The three best teams from both incubation programmes came together for the last time to take the stage and present their ideas to a jury of investors.

There were three special prizes and one main prize. After pitching, the jury selected the winners:

  • Main prize – 1000€ grant to change the world – went to Selena project
  • Special prize by SEB – 3 mentoring sessions with Siim Lepisk, Innovation manager of Net Group – went to Palumõisa loomekodu.
  • Special prize by Social Enterprise Estonia – 4 hours equal to 400€ worth of counselling in sales and marketing – went to Banned Books.
  • Special prize by Baltic Innovation Agency – 10 hours equal to 1000€ worth of counselling on fundraising – went to Palumõisa loomekodu.

Congratulations to all the winners! All the best to all teams participating in incubation programs!

Incubation period

Within the SoFiMa project, two incubation programs took place in parallel. In September, the Tallinn University Social Entrepreneurship Incubator started with seven teams from Estonia and abroad. As part of the virtual incubation program, social entrepreneurship ideas were developed in various workshops and in collaboration with mentors. In parallel, ten teams began their journey in the Võru County Social Entrepreneurship Incubation Program, which tackled local challenges. In the Võru incubation program, experts in their field helped to develop the solutions further, adjust the financial model, assess the broader impact of their activities, etc. When joining the incubation program, the teams’ ideas were of varying degrees of maturity, but everyone took strong steps to further develop their idea.

Incubation journey

One last effort

In both incubation programs, the three best teams were selected to qualify for the Demo Day:

  • – a web portal for community communication, including food rescue;
  • Maana – premises for people with special needs to study carpentry and furniture restoration;
  • Palumõisa loomekodu – a self-sufficient rural community for the elderly;
  • Banned Books – banned books museum in Tallinn;
  • CollabMaker – digital collaboration platform for volunteers, not-for-profits and social enterprises;
  • Selena project – reusable sanitary and nursing pads.
Palumõisa loomekodu team

In the weeks leading up to the Demo Day, these teams received additional instructions to present their ideas convincingly. The morning of the Demo Day started actively for the teams – they had to do their first public pitch to the trainer Aleksander Tõnnisson (Cocoon Ventures). Aleksander shared some final tips and suggestions for adjusting the pitches.

Investor Roundtable

In parallel to the training session, an exciting discussion on impact investments occurred. One of the critical features of the SoFiMa project is to bring together key players in the Estonian social economy ecosystem, including investors and social enterprises and impact organizations. This is precisely the role played by the Investor Roundtable. During the session, the project members presented the preliminary results of the analyses conducted within the SoFIMa project; foreign experts gave inspiring speeches and the future of impact investments were discussed.

EVPA analyst Gianluca Gaggiotti gave an overview of the impact investment trends in Europe. EVPA, European Venture Philanthropy Association, is one of the leading networks that regularly analyses and maps the social impact of investment funds in Europe. Bruno Dunkel, CEO of Inpulse, introduced the logic of the Inpulse investment fund in Belgium and their pan-European Helenos fund.

During the roundtable discussion, funds operating in Estonia were placed on the spectrum of impact investments. It was found that the Estonian impact investment market is currently underdeveloped, although there is a growing interest from investors.

Demo Day – the final event of the incubation programs

In the afternoon, the participants of both sessions came together. It was the moment the teams had been waiting for. Each team had 3 minutes to pitch their social enterprise idea and 7 minutes to respond to the jury’s questions. The jury consisted of Erkki Kubber (Social Enterprise Estonia), Evelin Allas (SEB bank), Jorma Laiapea (Limitless Impact Investments), Rene Tõnnisson (Baltic Innovation Agency) and Pirkko Valge (Good Deed Foundation).

Next steps

The SoFiMa project will continue its activities during the Spring of 2022. Several other important events are ahead with ministerial officials, local policymakers and the banking sector. Research conducted within the framework of the SoFiMa project will also be published in the coming months.

The main goal of the project “Kick-starting the nascent social finance market in Estonia” (SoFiMa) is to achieve cooperation between various sectors and stakeholders in developing the current situation of social entrepreneurship in Estonia. The project consortium includes: Baltic Innovation Agency, Tallinn University, Development Centre of Võru County, Estonian Social Enterprise Network. The project is also supported by AS SEB Bank and start-up accelerator Buildit.

The project is co-financed by the European Commission through the Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI” 2014-2020 programme – Actions to boost the development of finance markets for social enterprises. The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission.