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The Enterprise Academy

Jeff Wig, Initiative Foundation vice president for entrepreneurship (left), is collaborating with Higher Works Collaborative’s Natoyia Alberts (foreground), James Alberts (center) and Buddy King.

Building Local Economies From Within

The Initiative Foundation believes in the drive and daring of local entrepreneurs to transform their lives and revitalize their neighborhoods. 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 ...

  • Strengthening and broadening the economic fabric of communities
  • Developing and lifting up community role models
  • Revitalization of communities and vacant properties
  • Creating jobs and wealth in underrepresented communities   
  • Broadening participation in the American Dream 

Entrepreneur Training Class

Aspiring entrepreneurs learn from business experts as they create their own individual business plan. Classes are held 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. Trainers and guest speakers with proven experience make the class real and relevant for each aspiring entrepreneur. 

Click Here for Class Topics

Small Business Lending

The Enterprise Academy is supported by a lending program provides access to credit for businesses 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.      

Learn More About the Gap Lending Program

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.     


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

Cohort_2_Enterprise_Academy_Graduates.pngThe nine Cohort 2 graduates completed the course and graduated during a Dec. 20, 2018, program at the offices of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation.



Jama Alimad
Program Consultant

(320) 310-1135


Laura Larson
Program Associate for Entrepreneurship
(320) 631-2064


Jeff Wig
Vice President for Entrepreneurship

(320) 631-2006

Enterprise Academy Graduates 

Read the biographies of past cohort graduates.