FINNOVATION Fellows are the next wave of social entrepreneurship in the Upper Midwest.
Katrina Becker has been quietly working in the background of the social entrepreneurship scene in the Twin Cities. She recently joined the FINNOVATION Lab as the Fellowship Program Manager.
The FINNOVATION Fellowship is a nine-month incubator and fellowship program to support impact entrepreneurs. You may have heard about the FINNOVATION Fellowship in episode 252 of Social Entrepreneur.
With the launch of this program, the FINNOVATION Lab is building a powerful engine of change in the Midwest – a cohort of individuals with bold ideas and the passion for executing innovative solutions to intractable issues.
In this episode, Katrina describes the process of sorting through hundreds of applications who submitted extensive written and video content. They were judged on eight criteria: entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, resilience, financial stability, passion, growth potential, social impact, and innovation. Sixteen finalists were selected. Those finalists spent 20 minutes with coaches, answering questions. They each gave a 3-minute pitch in front of a room full of judges. In the end, five people were selected as the 2018 – 2019 FINNOVATION Fellows.
Each fellow receives a $50,000 living stipend, health insurance stipend, free co-working space, a tailored curriculum, and one-on-one mentorship. The funds were made possible by the Bush Foundation.
Junita L. Flowers
Frozen Cookie Dough to Increase Hope, Awareness and Funding for Domestic Abuse Victims
Junita is one of the few social entrepreneurs to appear twice on the Social Entrepreneur podcast; July 2017, and July 2018. Junita calls herself the “Hope Muncher-in-Chief.” She is on a mission to spread a message of hope, inspiring women to live their best lives. Junita believes the FINNOVATION Fellowship will allow her to access leadership training opportunities, strengthen her confidence as a business owner and make meaningful connections, allowing her to maximize her community support impact both locally and nationally.
Michelle Tran Maryns
Reservation Tool to Increase Small-Business and Customer Community Impact
Before founding her own social venture, Michelle Tran Maryns helped entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses as the Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Metropolitan Economic Development Assoc.(MEDA). Before MEDA, she developed leadership experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors through her work at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, Rêve Consulting, and the American Academy of Neurology. Michelle applied to the fellowship program to leverage her experience working in these different sectors to create a social venture that fosters collaboration and increases the positive community impact. Being selected as a FINNOVATION Fellow means a lot to Michelle because this is the first social enterprise that she has started, and she is excited to learn more from the FINNOVATION Lab community.
Connecting Low-Income Students to Needed Financial Resources and Support
Mimi Aboubaker is the founder and CEO of TUSA, a FinTech venture focused on improving educational outcomes of socioeconomically disadvantaged students. TUSA provides scholarship and financial aid providers and philanthropists with a vehicle to remove cost barriers to higher education for low-and-middle-income students and to deploy education capital that has a quantifiable and measurable reduction to the student loan debt we often discuss but haven’t found a methodical way to tackle. Before the venture, Mimi worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, merchant banking at Morgan Stanley, and corporate development at Prada Group. Her experience as a first-generation American and college student who independently navigated the college and financial aid processes motivates her work in the educational equity space and passion for the venture. Mimi is excited about leveraging the resources and expertise of mentors and advisors through the FINNOVATION Lab Fellowship program.
Supporting LGBTQ Entrepreneurs
Nicholas Alm was a serious violinist who originally wanted to be a music teacher but due to societal pressure opted for business school. In 2016, he co-founded The University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management’s first undergraduate LGBTQ organization, just months before beginning the blueprints for what would become Mossier, an organization dedicated to serving LGBTQ entrepreneurs. He serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota International NGO Network; a group focused on growing Minnesota’s ecosystem of international development practitioners. Nicholas feels the extraordinary amount of talent and expertise within the FINNOVATION community is unmatched and having a community of support among the other FINNOVATION Fellows will assist his development as an entrepreneur and add excitement.
Natural and Affordable Skin Care Solutions through Upcycling
Precious Drew is a recent graduate from the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Global Business with a focus in entrepreneurship. Precious dedicated her junior and senior year to designing and implementing a business providing natural skin care products through the practice of upcycling in the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneur Scholars program. Precious finds great value in being a member of a cohort setting as members can offer constructive feedback, fresh ideas, and new perspectives for the business. No longer shielded by the title of “student,” Precious believes professional mentorship, especially concerning legal issues, in conjunction with the advice and perspective offered from her fellow FINNOVATION Fellowship cohort members, is the next step for her.
Meet the Fellows
If you would like to meet these five FINNOVATION Fellows in person, join the celebration on Monday, September 17th from 4-6pm at the Impact Hub MSP. Details can be found here: http://bit.ly/MeetFinn.
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- Meet the FINNOVATION Fellows: http://bit.ly/MeetFinn
- FINNOVATION Lab: http://finn-lab.com
- Impact Hub MSP: https://www.impacthubmsp.com
- Bush Foundation: https://www.bushfoundation.org