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 business 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 business.

Watch our 2018 webinar to learn more about the Social Business Ventures initiative.

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:

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 eighth 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

In 2018 we will 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.

Early in 2018 we launched an RFP for a Social Business Seed Investment Fund partner. We selected the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital fund based in San Francisco that provides seed capital and regulatory support to entrepreneurs creating scalable solutions to urban challenges. Through our partnership, the Urban Innovation Fund will bring new capital to our region and will hire its first associate outside of the Bay Area – to be based in Minneapolis. This partnership is another step in our efforts to make this region the best place to start and grow businesses that solve social problems. 


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 Program

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.