Social Business Ventures

Help people do good through business.

Businesses can be problem solvers. In fact, sometimes businesses are best positioned to solve some of our toughest social problems. We call these social purpose businesses and they are beginning to transform economies all over the world.

We define social purpose businesses as those with a commitment to both financial returns and social problem solving. This dual commitment is core to their purpose and their strategy. 

The guiding goal of our Social Business Ventures initiative is to make our region the best place in the country to launch and grow social purpose businesses.

We launched the Social Business Ventures strategic initiative in 2016 with a three-part strategy:

  1. Inspire, equip and connect people of all backgrounds to create and grow more successful social purpose businesses.
  2. Inspire, equip and connect people of all backgrounds to invest more capital in the creation and growth of social purpose businesses.
  3. Create a supportive ecosystem for business creators and growers and investors in social purpose businesses.

Learn about our approach with the strategic initiatives.

Our Investments

We work year-round — in consultation with community stakeholders, issue experts, our Board of Directors and others — to identify and develop promising investment opportunities.

Our current investments include:

  • Greater MSP: To fund the continued startup and growth of Forge North, an effort that provides the connectivity and backbone support for key Minnesota entrepreneurship leaders and organizations.
  • Urban Innovation Fund: A social purpose business early stage seed fund in our region.
  • FINNovation Fellowship for Impact Entrepreneurs: A program, in development, to build a stronger pipeline of social purpose business creators by supporting the needs of early stage creators.
  • Initiators Fellowship: A fellowship empowering social purpose entrepreneurs in greater Minnesota. 

Tell us who we should know about. We do not accept unsolicited proposals for funding through our strategic initiatives. However, we do want to know about the people and organizations doing great work in the region.  

Find more Social Business Venture grantees.

What We're Learning

The Social Enterprise Ecosystems report rated Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) the fourth strongest social enterprise ecosystem of the 21 ranked cities. MSP did well with human capital and quality of life, yet lagged in regulation and receptivity, as well as funding. 

Next Street helped us explore how to best support the capital needs of local, social purpose businesses. View the slideshow of their findings.

What's Next

We are continuing to explore programs that would help build the pipeline for business creators and growers, with a focus on serving communities that face the biggest barriers to starting and growing businesses.

We’ll also learn more about regulations and the current policy environment for social businesses.


Ecosystem grants

Organizations can apply for our Ecosystem grants, which help sustain organizations that create unique and significant value for our grantees, Fellows, Rebuilders and others. 


Leadership Programs

Business leaders are encouraged to explore opportunities within Bush Fellowships and Change Networks.


Follow Us

Visit our Opportunities page or subscribe to our newsletter to stay current on what we offer.