Frequently Asked Questions

GSBI Program

Program Information

Q: Who should apply to a GSBI® program?

Leaders of for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid social enterprises who are operational and have the financials to back them up and who are seeking investment.

Q: What is the relationship between Santa Clara University, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and the GSBI?

Housed at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship accelerates global entrepreneurship with a strategic focus on poverty eradication through its three areas of work:

1.    The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI)

2.    Impact Capital

3.    Education & Action Research

Q: What are the different programs that the GSBI offers and how do I know which one I am a qualified for?

GSBI offers a range of programs and curricula through its three stage-specific programs:

  •         GSBI Boost: helps entrepreneurs at early-stage enterprises outline their businesses and develop their business models. Boosts are hosted by partner organizations.*
  •        GSBI Online: works with early-stage enterprises to create their business plans and test assumptions
  •        GSBI Accelerator: prepares mid-stage enterprises for scale and investment

*Note: The GSBI does not recruit for GSBI Boost. GSBI Boosts are hosted by partner organizations.

Q: How many cohorts of GSBI Accelerator and GSBI Online does the GSBI run per year?

The GSBI Accelerator program lasts 10 months and is run one time per year at SCU. The GSBI Online program lasts for six months and there are four cohorts run per year. 

Q: What are the deadlines for applying to GSBI Accelerator and GSBI Online?

Interested applicants can submit an application anytime throughout the year. Please check our website for cohort key dates in the sidebar. 

Q: Are there separate applications for GSBI Accelerator and GSBI Online?

No, there is only one application for both programs. Your application will be considered for both GSBI programs within one year from your application date. There is no need to re-apply for multiple programs within the same year.

Q: My enterprise is not yet operational - can I still apply?

GSBI’s programs are designed to best serve social enterprises that have already begun to operate, meaning that you have begun to sell your product and/or service. Earlier stage enterprises that are still in the idea stage are too early to be accepted.

Q: My enterprise does not directly address poverty - can I still apply?

GSBI programs only serve social entrepreneurs around the world developing innovative solutions that provide a sustainable path out of poverty.

Q:  I’m not a woman, and I’m not addressing climate resilience with my social enterprise - can I still apply?

Yes! GSBI works with social entrepreneurs who are working to eradicate conditions of poverty. We have identified entrepreneurs supporting climate resilience and women’s economic empowerment as target markets. Climate resilience includes: clean energy and water, sustainable agriculture, health, and rural livelihoods. Women rising includes: organizations supporting women’s economic empowerment and women-led organizations.

Q: Can other people from my team participate in the program?

For both GSBI Accelerator and GSBI Online, the main participant should be someone in a leadership role (ex: CEO, Director, COO) who has a strong understanding of the business. Other members from your team are encouraged to engage where it makes sense to be involved (for example, they oversee the financials or marketing of your business). We encourage multiple participants, but rely on one main point person to manage the engagement.

For the GSBI Accelerator In-Residence, Miller Center covers the cost of one participant per social enterprise, excluding airfare to and from Santa Clara, CA. One additional team member is encouraged to attend, however they are responsible for the cost of their room and board ($1,000 USD - prices are subject to change).

Q: Do you provide funding to the entrepreneurs?

Miller Center does not provide any funding to the entrepreneurs. Our goal is to get the entrepreneur investment-ready and support connections to impact investors.

Q: How much does the program cost?

There is no cost for participating in the programs. All costs are covered by the fundraising efforts of Miller Center. The only expense that the social entrepreneurs are responsible for are travel costs to and from Santa Clara University for the GSBI Accelerator In-Residence in August.

Q: What is the time commitment for entrepreneurs?

It varies, but the time commitment is generally two-three hours per week. For the GSBI Accelerator In-Residence, participants are invited to come to Santa Clara University for 10 days in August.

Q: Do the social entrepreneurs receive investment after participating in GSBI?

Yes. Many GSBI alumni go on to receive funding either in the form of debt, equity, or grants.

GSBI programs are designed to help social enterprises validate their business models and develop a strong financial model  (investment amount, type of capital, intended use of funds, return on investment, and expected impact) so the entrepreneur is confidently able to approach investors that will help them get to that next stage of growth.

Q: I currently have a full time job and am running my social enterprise on the side. Can I still apply?

Yes, if your enterprise program meets all of the eligibility criteria and you are committed to being an active participant (if selected into a GSBI program). However, successful participants are typically ones whose full-time focus is running their social enterprise.

Q: What will you gain from participating in GSBI?

If selected into one of our programs, you will come out of the GSBI with a thorough understanding of your business model and your expected social impact, a really clear financial ask, and all under the guidance of executive-level Silicon Valley mentorship. In addition, you will be connected with a global network of social entrepreneurs, foundations, and impact investors.


Q: Who are the mentors?

The mentors are carefully selected by the GSBI. They are high-caliber individuals who are considered as trusted advisors. Each SE is paired with one or two mentors – a lead mentor and a mentor in training (MIT) or associate mentor (AS). Many of them may not know your specific context or have experience in your industry, but all of them are extremely bright and passionate people who ask the right questions.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor or would like to learn more about the mentorship, please visit our Mentor webpage.

Q: How many mentors will I work with - do I work with the same mentor for the duration of the program?

You will be assigned one or two mentors to work with you weekly for the duration of the program. If you need more specific support, they may pull in other content experts to work with your team.

Q: How will I be paired with mentors?

We pair each team with a mentor based on your organizational needs and the expertise of our mentors.

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GSBI Application

The GSBI Accelerator Program is run one time per year. The GSBI Online Program is run four times per year. Your application will be considered for both GSBI programs within one year from your application date. There is no need to re-apply for multiple programs within the same year.

If you have additional questions about your application, please contact

Q. Who should complete the survey? 

An executive team member should complete the application form.

Q. How long is the application? 

There are approximately 40 questions to give us a sense of who you are and what your social enterprise is all about. If you have the information requested ready, it will take about one hour.

Q. Is there a copy of the application available, so I know what to expect and can have my responses ready? 

Yes. A PDF for previewing is available here (GSBI_Application_9-9-16.pdf). If you would like to fill this out before completing the application online, great! Please do not email us your test application, as it will not be considered unless it is submitted online. Also, please do not preview the survey online by filling in junk data. Thank you for your interest in the GSBI Accelerator and Online programs.

Q. I am part of the way through the application, but something came up and I am not able to complete it right now. If I come back to it later, can I return to where I left off?

While it is better you complete the application all at once, your responses are saved when you click the "Next" button at the bottom of each page in the application. If you need to stop and then finish the rest of your application later, please do the following:

1) Bookmark the application URL (the page you are on) in your browser

2) When you return to the application, use the same computer/ device on which you started it

3) Use the same browser on which you started the application

4) Have cookies enabled in your browser

5) When complete, be sure to click the “submit” button on the last page

Q. How much information should I provide?

The more complete the data, the better we are able to evaluate your fit within GSBI programs. When in doubt, include more information. We will not evaluate partial applications. It is important that you complete this questionnaire in full as best you can.

Q. How do I share my Business Plan and other relevant documents for my application? 

You can upload your documents at the end of the survey. Please label the documents with the name of your enterprise.

Q. How will the information I provide be protected? 

Only Miller Center staff and mentors will have access to this data. It will not be shared outside of our organization without your permission.

Q. What is expected of my team if selected? 

An executive team member should plan on participating in the semifinalist interview, and program, if selected.

For additional information on the GSBI programs, please visit our website at

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