Mill House Social Enterprise Programs

At The Mill House we run a series of programs designed to provide through life support for social entrepreneurs in the Canberra region. No matter where you are on your social enterprise journey, our programs aim to guide you through trading for purpose and achieving social impact. To discuss your venture to understand how the Mill House can help you accelerate impact, book a Social Enterprise Consult with us today

Introduction To Community Social Enterprise

Our 2-hour introductory program caters to individuals interested in for purpose business addressing social, cultural, economic, or environmental objectives. It welcomes participants from diverse business backgrounds, regardless of their level of experience or knowledge in social enterprise to give an overview of the social enterprise sector and how it can be used for good in society.


The Catalyse for Impact program targets emerging social entrepreneurs aiming to establish a new venture or restructure an existing business to prioritize purpose-driven trading. This two-day initiative focuses on laying the groundwork for a social enterprise, emphasizing the desired impact and the specific issue to be addressed. Led by the Mill House team, the program employs workshops, presentations, and interactive discussions to assist participants in refining their social enterprise concepts. Catalyse for Impact delves into the process of setting clear impact objectives and introduces practical tools, including the Theory of Change, for achieving them. Integrating impact measurement and philanthropy within the Lean startup methodology and business model canvassing, the program enables participants to take initial steps in developing their business.

GRIST: The Mill House Social Enterprise Accelerator Program

GRIST is our flagship program designed to accelerate social enterprise ventures through the start-up process. Over a 3-month incubation period we anchor your acceleration journey alongside a formal mentoring program to guide your market testing. In the workshops you will learn skills, develop your venture, and engage with your cohort to bring your Minimum Viable Product to market quickly. During the formal mentoring you will be supported to gather the data you need to iterate and accelerate your venture. Each GRIST venture is carefully selected by our panel of Industry Professionals and Social Entrepreneurs in residence. They are looking for projects with a clear, compelling and measurable theory of change. They are also looking for market ready B2B or B2C ventures that can be tested, validated and iterated during the Program. In previous GRIST programs ventures have provided training and employment for individuals excluded from mainstream economic participation, such as people with intellectual disabilities, experience episodic mental health conditions or that have been incarcerated. Other Mill House Alumni are iterating impact models in areas such as adolescent mental health and wellness, Indigenous advancement, problem drinking, health, housing, gender inequity and food security. Applications for 2023 closed

What is GRIST?


In June 2022, The Mill House Ventures launched a new program led by our Social Entrepreneurs in Residence, and with the support of our extensive network of mentors. REFINE offers short, intensive, highly-tailored support to established for-purpose traders in Canberra and the region.

Who Is The Program For 

This program is ideal for: 

  • Founders or executives of established for-purpose social enterprises who have been generating income for at least 12 months 
  • New social enterprise business managers developing new impact areas within established community social enterprises 

How Can This Program Support Your Impact 

REFINE is designed to support established social enterprises realise their potential by overcoming the key business challenges that are holding them back. Given the diversity of challenges social enterprises face, the range of support this program can provide is almost limitless. Some examples of business challenges the program could help with include: designing new revenue models, expanding existing revenue streams, attracting impact partners, developing standard operating procedures, identifying production solutions, addressing tech gaps, or running new business development campaigns to validate new products/services. 

For example, if one of the key barriers to scaling your impact is accessing new financing, we would pull together a group of fundraising experts for your Growth Lab to spend 3 hours generating fundraising ideas with you. This would be backed in by fortnightly coaching afterwards to support in the implementation of those ideas.  The goal is to identify and remove barriers to scaling social, economic, environmental, or cultural impact. Together, we will focus on challenges facing established social enterprises with the potential to scale their business operations, thus underwriting an expansion of their measurable social impact.

REFINE program schedule includes:

  • Initial Scoping Meeting to understand your business and impact model and the key barriers you are facing to scaling your impact. 
  • Growth Lab – a 3 hour brainstorming session between a brains trust of relevant experts and your business team to diagnose your challenges and offer potential solutions.  
  • Fortnightly Venture Coaching with Mill House’s Social Entrepreneur in Residence to help with implementing the recommendations from the growth lab and provide ongoing support.  

If you are interested in this program please book a consult with one of the team to discuss through the “BOOK A CONSULT” button at the top of the page.

Question Answer

Frequently Asked Questions

We provide advice, mentoring and targeted assistance such as introductions to potential alliance partners and customers.

We come together as a cohort for an entrepreneurial education and peer networking opportunities. The mandatory workshops are intensive, dedicated, whole-day learning opportunities to come to terms with all the factors that influence trading for impact.

The purpose of this is to encourage you to fully immerse yourself in the progress of social venture building and in connecting with your peers who are very likely to be your future collaborators and (we hope!) friends.

Day one and two are Introduction days, where we ground you in the Vision, Mission and Social Purpose of your Venture. We introduce you to several founders and social innovators who have lived-experience of the tension of this unique way of trading. We also unpack the attributes of this asset class with you and highlight opportunities and challenges your venture might face as you explore Social Enterprise.

We also celebrate Day one with a cocktail program launch in the evening!

Day three and four introduces you to the specialists and Industry Professionals that have supported our graduates’ ventures. You will hear from financial and legal experts who are well versed in Social Enterprise. During this time, we also investigate what your product milestones and impact measurements are capable of delivering in your market, and show you how impact reports come together.

Day five is called “Bringing it all together”, and we land the program with a pitching preparation workshop and deep work on your impact narrative, including finalising your market testing plan and launching you into your validation process.

Between the end of the Learning Program and the graduation ceremony, you will meet with your mentors 5 times to track progress on your market testing. For some, market testing might be designing and launching a crowdfunding campaign, for others it might be 100 User Interviews to inform your prototype development. The Market Testing Plan is tailored to your venture and your impact.

GRIST culminates in a Graduation Ceremony and community celebration. You will pitch your ventures and reflect on your adventures in GRIST with our Mill House social innovation community. We will also help you to prepare an ASK, to let our community know how they can continue to support your Social Enterprise.

No. Participants for our programs are selected through an extensive review process to ensure that we have the right expertise to support you over the entire Accelerator program.

We have learned through trial and error that the best approach is to strictly limit participation for those who are most ready and have clear impact narratives to address pressing social, cultural and environmental challenges right here in our region.

We seek start-up social ventures that intend to grow quickly through the acquisition of new customers in new or existing markets. We want to build entrepreneurial capacity rather than teach you how to get an increase in donations or Government funding.

If you have a trading model (way to make money that transacts services or products) and an impact idea (way to make a measurable difference), we will assess it for GRIST.

The Mill House facilitators, mentors, and investors are people who know how to help entrepreneurs succeed, and many of these are already successful entrepreneurs. They understand what you’re going through in starting an innovative new business. They are each committed to social entrepreneurship and are willing to draw on personal and professional networks to benefit your ventures.

We will provide the learning resources and program support so you can complete each stage and apply insights and new knowledge to your venture.

The Mill House will host a Graduation event designed to expose your venture to a range of social impact investors in our region.

We will support you to be able to do the best pitch possible and we will activate the network to get the right people in the room. Your pitch will help you access the next stage of development based on where you land at the end of the program—you might be looking for potential investors, partners, team members, or customers.

After Graduation, you will become an Alumni of Mill House. Mill House graduates is a growing ecosystem of Change Makers and Social Enterprise ventures adding to the status and reputation of Social Enterprise in the Canberra region, and across the world. We also invite you to consider Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT (SECNA) membership to maintain connections to a community of practice and like-minded ventures trading for impact.

We understand that developing any small business, especially for-purpose ventures, takes time.

The GRIST program is designed to learn quickly, challenge your idea and, just like going to the gym, it might feel uncomfortable and sweaty, but we want you to come out stronger. It’s not for everyone though!

We encourage people who are not sure to have a consult with our Team first. Consultations are always free at Mill House.

We are also connected into the Innovation and Small Business ecosystem in Canberra, so we can keep you informed of other opportunities and events like the ACT CoSS Networks ( SECNA (, ASENA ( ) and the First Wednesday Connect networking sessions, and maybe we will see you there!

  • You are an entrepreneur who is looking to pivot your business for purpose
  • You are persistent, determined, and flexible – you want to learn and adapt your concept through this process
  • You have a great team and the support of your co-founders, extended team, organisation and/or Board of Directors to participate fully
  • The GRIST is valued at $10,000 AUD – Thanks to our Sponsor Members, program participants are only asked to contribute $1,500 AUD for the entire program per venture for up to 3 participants
  • Need financial support? We have the discretion to support our Change Makers who are experiencing financial difficulties. We also offer flexible payment terms. There is a place to indicate in your application that you will need Fee Help
  • We request a co-contribution from your of $1500 AUD (GST INCL). We offer payment plans too.
  • Also, consider the value of your time. In addition to the learning time and workshops, you will also have tasks to complete between sessions. We recommend that the Principal Founder will need at least 2-3 days a week during the program to be available to put the time in to develop your business and financial model and test your assumptions in the market. We encourage the participation of teams who can share the load so that your wellbeing and health are prioritised.