Social Change Fellowship Creates Life-Changing Opportunity
Being a social entrepreneur can feel a bit like living on an uninhabited island: there is lots of unchartered territory to explore; you have access only to the resources you bought with you; and there is a limit to the amount you can achieve, without someone helping you to build up a community.
As a person whose journey into entrepreneurship began around six years ago, I know how tough that island can be.
At times, it can feel isolating and can be hard to navigate your way around (constantly carving out a track is exhausting work).
If you are anything like me, you may have looked at grants, accelerators, leadership programs and various accreditations to help you grow your business and impact.
If you did, chances are you came across this same gut-wrenching sentence starter “no, unfortunately, we can’t help you….”. This is usually followed by “your entity type makes you ineligible” or “you’re too early stage” or “you’ve been operating for too long” or “we only offer small grants” or “we only fund large infrastructure projects”, or 101 other reasons. I’ve received them all. All. Of. Them. It sure can take the wind out of your sails.
Genuine attempts at growing, scaling, innovating, problem-solving, collaborating took their toll on my time, energy, resources and self-belief.
But I’m still here. And there’s a very good reason why.
Because someone said “yes”.
They said, “We love what you are doing. We see something in you. Here is $50,000 – we want you to use it to make yourself bigger, better, faster, stronger. We can’t wait to see what you are capable of achieving with us in your corner. Welcome to the Westpac Social Change Fellowship”.
Not only did Westpac Scholars Trust invest in my entrepreneurship journey with cash, but they also gave me specialist leadership development coaching opportunities, opportunities to engage with and learn directly from some of their most esteemed leaders, access to their legal and HR teams on a pro bono basis, even referrals that resulted in income-generating activities – ALL things that lifted me up and helped to strengthen my social enterprise.
They invited me into the W100 family, where I have continued expanding and developing my networks and opportunities.
They didn’t just give me crumbs, they gave me a place at the table where I could contribute meaningfully toward the learning journey of hundreds of other Westpac Scholars, too.
Now, perhaps you’re reading this article because you are desperately trying to do business in a way that leaves a positive footprint on the world, and are finding it difficult to see where you fit in.
And maybe you’ve been getting lots of those same responses as I got?
Well, perhaps it’s time you applied for a Westpac Social Change Fellowship.
If you’re thinking of throwing your hat in the ring, here are some helpful application tips to help maximise your chance of success.
- Show the real you – Westpac Social Change Fellows are leaders & innovators from all walks of life
- Critically reflect on your personal development needs – show how the fellowship would be a turning point for you and how it would help build your capacity to drive social change
- Do your research – thoroughly research the fellowship opportunity and craft a well-considered development plan
- Seek advice from others – Social Change Fellows understand the importance of collaboration and connection
- Be clear and concise – Social Change Fellows must be good communicators