How we got started

In 2009, investor and philanthropist William Schoenfeld invited a cohort of 11 Chinese students to attend the annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) conference, held that year at the University of Texas, Austin. Mr. Schoenfeld, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, wanted to help connect China's top young entrepreneurs with global leaders in social entrepreneurship and investing.

In 2010, the Schoenfeld Foundation formally launched the ECSEL fellowship and that year, a cohort of 30 top Chinese undergraduate and MBA students traveled to the United States for a week of intensive business training. At that year's CGIU conference, former US President Bill Clinton publicly honored the ECSEL program for its work supporting Chinese social enterprise.

Since 2010, ECSEL has continued to grow. We no longer work exclusively with students; any entrepreneur working in China is now eligible to apply. Today, three years since our founding, ECSEL continues to provide China's top social entrepreneurs with the resources and training they need to create outstanding social businesses.

Our Principles

We believe....

  • That businesses can help make the world a better place
  • That young people in China (and anywhere in the world) should not have to choose between making money and helping the world
  • That resources like funding, training, mentorship, and fellowship can make a critical difference in helping a social enterprise succeed

We don't believe...

  • That a company's only metric for success is how much money it can make
  • That only NGOs can solve social and environmental problems
  • That entrepreneurs should focus on gaining experience by working at a big company, rather than starting their own projects

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply to ECSEL on behalf of my whole team? Or do I apply as an individual? Can multiple members of the same company all apply to ECSEL?

Each person applies to ECSEL as an individual, and there is no limitation on the number of people applying from the same company. Because ECSEL supports you as an individual, even if you leave your current project you remain part of the fellowship program.

What happens to ECSEL fellows after the fellowship year is over?

While ECSEL provides its fellows with one year of intensive training and mentorship, the fellowship is a lifelong experience. Even after graduation, we continue to provide fellows with resources like professional services, working space, and even investment. At the same time, we continue to bring together ECSEL alumni for reunions and other special events.

What happens if I’m not accepted as an ECSEL fellow? Can I still access any of the resources you offer?

ECSEL’s mission is to help create outstanding social enterprises in greater China, and that doesn’t just mean among the 20 or 30 fellows we can accept each year. Even if we can’t offer you a spot in the fellowship, you can take advantage of a number of resources we offer. Browse the content we produce and share on our website. Share your project and connect with other social entrepreneurs on our community directory page. Attend the special events we periodically organize and promote.

Is ECSEL a fellowship program for students?

Students can apply to ECSEL, and so can anyone else (as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed above). At ECSEL, we’re particularly interested in supporting young entrepreneurs, but even if you’re a grandmother: If you have a great product, we’d love to talk.

Do I have to pay to become an ECSEL fellow?

There is no fee for applying to ECSEL, nor is there a fee for becoming a fellow. The entire ECSEL program is fully subsidized for each fellow, and is made possible by the Schoenfeld Foundation. Click here to learn more about the Schoenfeld Foundation.

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A community of China's top social entrepreneurs

Each year, we select a class of ECSEL fellows representing China's most outstanding social entrepreneurs. Over the course of a year, we provide our fellows with training, mentorship, and access to resources like seed funding and logistical support.

Our comprehensive training program includes a trip to the United States to meet with America's top impact investors and social entrepreneurs. Our trainings also take place in mainland China and Hong Kong.

ECSEL is made possible thanks to the support of the Schoenfeld Foundation.

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