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FINNOVATION Lab Expands Fellowship Program, Accepting Applications for Second Cohort of Entrepreneurs

Nine individuals will be selected for $50,000 fellowship, dedicated workspace and business resources to help grow mission-driven enterprises

FINNOVATION Lab, a social business catalyst that helps local entrepreneurs launch and scale their ventures, announced a second cohort of their FINNOVATION Fellowship Program, with applications being accepted April 15-May 15. The nine-month incubator and professional development program that supports early-stage social entrepreneurs building mission-driven enterprises, will provide selected fellows with $50,000 to cover living expenses as well as a health insurance stipend, dedicated workspace, tailored curriculum and one-on-one mentorship. 

Applicants to the program should be individuals with a tie to Minnesota who have bold ideas for sustainable, systems-level change through entrepreneurship. The FINNOVATION Fellowship Program supports entrepreneurs with innovative business models that generate lasting social impact, whether they come from for-profit or non-profit enterprises. Social impact may be in education, health, environment, hunger, poverty-alleviation, or elsewhere, as long as it generates positive change across the region. Applicants should be committed to working on their venture full time.

The FINNOVATION Fellowship Program – which attracted more than 250 applicants for the 2018-19 program – continues to evolve in response to the market, refining curriculum and structure as well as expanding to nine fellows from five in the first year. With leadership development, business planning and modeling, as well as systems-level analysis for social change, the Fellowship aims to build successful social entrepreneurs. 

The program, which will run mid-September 2019 - mid-June 2020, is made possible through generous support from the Bush Foundation, known for its commitment to innovation and creative problem solving. The selected fellows are given access to workspace and resources through the collaboration between the FINNOVATION Lab and Impact Hub MSP, both working out of the FINNEGANS House development in Minneapolis’ East Town District.

“That so many entities have come together to support these types of business ideas – those designed to be a force of good, to positively impact our communities – is incredibly encouraging,” says Connie Rutledge, Managing Director of the FINNOVATION Lab. “It is a testament to the idea that this kind of work is needed and appreciated. We hope it inspires people locally and globally to expand their idea of what it means to be an impactful entrepreneur.”

The inaugural cohort wraps up programming this summer and is made up of five fellows building a wide range of social ventures:

Mimi Aboubaker: Founder and CEO of TUSA, a fintech venture focused on improving educational outcomes of socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Nick Alm: Co-founder and Executive Director of Mossier, a social enterprise that works with Minnesota-based corporations on LGBTQ workforce issues and uses revenue and donations to fund LGBTQ-owned businesses.

Precious Drew: Co-founder of PERK: The Natural Beauty Lab, which aims to be the leading provider of sustainable, upcycle-based skincare products.

Junita Flowers: Founder of Junita’s Jar, a cookie company that supports education and awareness initiatives dedicated to ending relationship violence. 

Michelle Tran Maryns: Founder and CEO of We Sparkle, a technology company that helps small businesses care for their customers and communities. 

“A program like this has been a dream of mine for quite some time,” says Jacquie Berglund, Founder of the FINNOVATION Lab. “To witness a group of young entrepreneurs work so hard to grow these mission-driven businesses is inspiring and humbling. We are all incredibly proud of the efforts put forth by the first group of fellows and can’t wait to see how the second group takes shape.”

More details about the FINNOVATION Fellowship, including application information, is available at


FINNOVATION Lab’s mission is to create a space for intentional and constant cross-pollination of social entrepreneurship concepts, ideas and networks. Through original programming and partnerships with organizations such as the Neighborhood Development Center, the organization empowers and provides system change leaders with venture service support and access to capital increasing and accelerating their impact. For more information, visit

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