Pope Francis famously asked, “Who am I to judge?”
So did Stephen Forte. The entrepreneur and Fresco Capital founder is launching a startup accelerator based in Rome — and in part at the Vatican. The accelerator will focus on for-profit, mission-driven companies (aka companies that care about more than just turning a profit). The accelerator will accept applications from startups until June 5, which will probably have to be chosen through some sort of judging process.
Forte announced his plan in a Medium post Thursday night titled “Why I’m Running an Accelerator at the Vatican.” He was inspired to start the accelerator by, yep, Pope Francis.
“I’m motivated to start a global conversation in the investment community on the value of for profit mission driven companies. As a global citizen with young children, I’m called to respond to His Holiness Pope Francis’ challenge,” Forte wrote.
Along with washing people’s feet and giving homilies, Pope Francis has also supported mission-driven for-profits and challenged tech companies to do more for social good and to fight climate change, Forte noted.
The accelerator will operate in Rome from July 13 to Sept. 9 and is open to startups that have already gotten off the ground but haven’t yet raised a Series A funding round. The program will provide a $100,000 for a 6-to-8 percent equity investment. The accelerator also includes a virtual component before and after the startups’ time in Rome and ends with a Demo Day at the Vatican in December.
The program will choose startups working on ideas related to water, urban communities, “human potential” or easing suffering from migration, health and climate change, environmental conservation, and finance and industry as it relates to environmentalism and climate change.