Launching Bain London’s Social Business Incubator

Arabella is an SAC in London and a founding member of Bain London’s Social Business Incubator team. Here she writes about the Social Business Incubator, what it’s like to be involved, and why other offices might consider founding something similar.

What do Unltd, the world’s largest support network for social entrepreneurs, and Bain & Company, the world’s top strategy consulting firm, have in common? Seemingly very little; the former supports individuals running start-ups, working to deliver positive social change and support society’s disadvantaged, while the latter supports many of the world’s largest  companies in driving increased value and lasting results.

Yet through the Social Business Incubator we have created a partnership that brings the best of each of these organisations together, connecting Unltd’s fastest growth ventures with a mentoring team of London Bainies passionate to further develop their consulting skills and to apply them in a new setting.

The original idea for the Social Business Incubator goes back 3 years, when two Bain ACs, Stephanie and James, discovered that ~90% of London Bainies wanted Bain to do something to help social business start-ups. Today we have ~30 London Bainies (ranging from Principal level to brand new ACs) volunteering to provide mentoring and strategic advice to 7 of the UK’s most promising high growth social start-ups. Results so far have been strong; with an 80% Net Promoter Score from entrepreneurs and feedback from the Incubator activity at London’s Winter Event was 75% (the highest of any charity activity on the day).


What’s it like to mentor a social start-up? The Social Business Incubator has enabled me to explore my interest in impact investing; realize my broader desire to have a positive impact on society; learn about what it’s like to run a start-up; get to grips with a new industry; meet new people; and importantly, to really reflect on the skills we learn at Bain and how they can be used in non-‘traditional’ settings. It’s a long list, and I’m sure each person involved with the Incubator would have a different one. Ultimately the entrepreneur my team works with is now in a much stronger place to bring his product to market, and a good part of this progress can be attributed to our work together.

What’s next for the Incubator? We hope to scale up the number of entrepreneurs involved – the more entrepreneurs we can sustainably support, the better! We also hope that this is a Bain Cares programme that many other Bain offices around the globe will take interest in and look to implement locally. If you have any questions about how to make this happen please get in touch – we would love to hear from you!

– Arabella Mostyn-Williams, London

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