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Enterprise Academy

Enterprise Academy Cohort 5 Class

A 12-week educational course is at the heart of the Enterprise Academy program.

Complete Our Interest Form for a Future Enterprise Academy Cohort

To indicate your interest in a future cohort of the Enterprise Academy, complete our Enterprise Academy Interest Form. To determine if this entrepreneurial startup program is right for you, preview the application/eligibiligy questions.

About the Enterprise Academy Program

Enterprise Academy Logo

The Initiative Foundation believes in the drive and daring of local entrepreneurs to transform their lives and contribute to the revitalization of their communities. The Enterprise Academy, following the Entrepreneur Development Model pioneered by the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) and its Build From Within Alliance, provides training, lending and one-one-one advising services to start and grow vital small businesses.

Outcomes include ...

  • Providing unique goods and services to the local economy
  • Revitalization of communities and vacant properties
  • Developing and lifting up community role models
  • Strengthening local economies
  • Broadening participation in the American dream.

Entrepreneur Training 

 Aspiring entrepreneurs learn from business experts as they create their own individual business plan. Classes are once per week for 12 weeks and feature training specifically tailored to each group, with one-on-one assistance available to help each participant create a realistic business plan roadmap.

Small Business Lending

The Enterprise Academy is supported by a lending program and provides access to credit for businesses owners who may not be able to access traditional sources of capital, including culturally tailored lending. Direct loans are possible in amounts up to $50,000 for successful graduates of our Enterprise Academy Entrepreneur Training Class or to our Business Services and Technical Assistance clients who create a realistic and robust business plan. Enterprise Academy program borrowers may also be able to access larger loan amounts through our traditional gap lending program, which requires a lead lender such as a bank or credit union.

Business Services & Technical Assistance

Expert consultants provide one-on-one technical assistance services in areas such as recordkeeping, accounting, marketing and branding, web development, social media marketing and legal aspects of business. These services are available to qualifying existing businesses for a reduced fee.  

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The Enterprise Academy program is part of the Build from Within Alliance, an association of organizations from across the United States that are implementing a similar comprehensive program of support for entrepreneurs. Support for the Enterprise Academy is made possible by grants from Wells Fargo, the Central Minnesota Community Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Brainerd Cohort Graduates 8 During December Celebration

The Brainerd cohort of the Enterprise Academy graduated eight entrepreneurs in December 2020. The virtual classroom portion of the program included presentations from business experts and encouraged students to develop their individual business plans. Classes were held once per week for 12 weeks and featured training specifically tailored to each student, with one-on-one assistance available to help create a realistic business plan.

There currently are no plans for a spring 2021 cohort in Brainerd.
Spring cohorts are planned for the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy and in St. Cloud.

Legacy Business Districts

Brainerd Legacy Business Districts

The Brainerd cohort of the Enterprise Academy placed an emphasis on individuals interested in creating or expanding visible businesses in Brainerd’s River-to-Rail corridor and, secondarily, Brainerd’s other legacy commercial districts.

View Graduation Program (PDF)

River-to-Rail Corridor

Brainerd_River-to-Rails Map

View Class Sessions


The Brainerd cohort of the Initiative Foundation’s Enterprise Academy was supported through partnerships with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, the Brainerd Destination Downtown business coalition and a host of Brainerd area businesses and organizations, including Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures.

Application Closes for Winter 2021 St. Cloud Cohort

The St. Cloud cohort of the Enterprise Academy includes presentations from business experts and provides insights and guidance as students work on their individual business plans. Classes are held once per week for 12 weeks and feature training specifically tailored to each student, with one-on-one assistance available to help create a realistic business plan. Classes will be conducted via the Zoom videoconferencing platform until assurances have been gained during the pandemic that it's safe for in-person meetings.

Interested in applying for a future cohort? Complete our Enterprise Academy Interest Form and we'll contact you when a new cohort is being planned. To learn more about the criteria for the program, preview the application questions.

 This cohort is supported through partnerships with the Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization (CMCEO) and Higher Works Collaborative, an affiliate program of Higher Ground Church of God in Christ, Waite Park.

The Enterprise Academy is based on the Entrepreneur Development Model, a program of the Neighborhood Development Center’s Build From Within Alliance. Primary support for the Enterprise Academy is made possible by a grant from Wells Fargo and its Diverse Community Capital program. Additional grant support is provided by the Central Minnesota Community Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

View St. Cloud Poster (PDF)

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View Class Sessions

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Application Closes for Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Cohort

The Mille Lacs Tribal Economy cohort of the Enterprise Academy includes presentations from business experts and provides insights and guidance as students work on their individual business plans. Classes are held once per week for 12 weeks and feature training specifically tailored to each student, with one-on-one assistance available to help create a realistic business plan.

Classes will be conducted via the Zoom videoconferencing platform until assurances have been gained during the pandemic that it's safe for in-person meetings.

Preview the questions or get right to business and complete the application.

Enterprise-Poster_Mille-Lacs_12-11-20_Web.jpg

Interested in applying for a future cohort? Complete our Enterprise Academy Interest Form and we'll contact you when a new cohort is being planned. To learn more about the criteria for the program, preview the application questions.


Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Census Tracts
Priority for training class admission will be given to those who wish to open a business in one of the above census tracts.

This cohort is made possible through a partnership with Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures in support of entrepreneurship in the wider Mille Lacs tribal economy, including six census tracts and the communities of Isle, Onamia, Wakhon. Hinkley, McGregor. For more information, visit our frequently asked questions.

The Enterprise Academy is based on the Entrepreneur Development Model, a program of the Neighborhood Development Center’s Build From Within Alliance. Primary support for the Enterprise Academy is made possible by a grant from Wells Fargo and its Diverse Community Capital program. Additional grant support is provided by the Central Minnesota Community Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the United States Small Business Administration.

View Class Sessions

Connect:

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Abdi Daisane
Enterprise Academy Program Officer
adaisane(at)ifound.org
(320) 207-4888

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Hannah Mayhew
Enterprise Academy Intern
eaintern(at)ifound.org
(320) 270-6019

Jessy Beto

Jessy Beto
Program Specialist
jbeto(at)ifound.org
(320) 631-2057

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Jeff Wig
Vice President for Entrepreneurship
jwig(at)ifound.org

(320) 631-2006

Enterprise Academy Graduates 

Read the biographies of cohort graduates. 

Enterprise Academy Student Testimonials

Watch videos to hear from graduates: