Finnovation Fellowship Selects Nine for Sixth Cohort of it’s Social Entrepreneurship Program

Finnovation Social Entrepreneurship Program


The program continues to draw diverse applicants who run early-stage, impact-driven businesses aimed to address a range of cultural, social, and environmental issues.

(Minneapolis, MN) Aug. 21, 2023 – FINNOVATION Institute, the non-profit arm of FINNOVATION Lab, announces the selection of nine local, impact-driven entrepreneurs to join the sixth cohort of its immersive FINNOVATION Fellowship Program, which aims to support and empower entrepreneurs who have bold ideas for sustainable, positive impact. By providing educational resources, mentorship, and collaboration, the program encourages fellows to address cultural, social, and environmental issues through innovative business models. The program will run from September 2023 through June 2024.

The FINNOVATION Fellowship Program continues to attract a diverse group of applicants. A committee of program alumni and community leaders selected the new group—55% identifying as women and 77% identifying as BIPOC—from a highly competitive pool. The extraordinary fellows and their areas of impact include:

  • Marcus Carpenter (Route 1) – supporting BIPOC farmers in their quest to alleviate food insecurity.
  • Brittany Clausen (Envision Greatness) – working towards achieving racial justice, devising new strategies for DEI initiatives.
  • James Everest (Sound Garden Arts) – crafting immersive healing environments for those with neurological disorders, utilizing spatial sound installations.
  • Anisa Hagi-Mohamed (Anisa Hagi, LLC) – promoting mental well-being through products that incorporate positive affirmations of Somali culture, identity, and history.
  • Erik Halaas (Live On Minnesota) – establishing Minnesota’s first natural organic reduction facility.
  • Karina Kelton (Raices Latinas) – connecting the Spanish-speaking, Latino community to resources and information through user-friendly mobile applications.
  • May Lee-Yang – amplifying the Asian-American experience through captivating board games.
  • Haggai Simon (Diddit) – helping college students with ADHD stay on top of their homework and on track to graduate, using a mobile app that leverages behavioral science.
  • Elizabeth Zalanga (Creeble Midwest Local News Initiative) – increasing access, readership, and enduring financial sustainability of local news organizations.

“This cohort of social entrepreneurs will be a wonderful addition to our growing community of founders, continuing our mission to create positive change throughout the region,” said Connie Rutledge, Executive Director of the FINNOVATION Institute. “We have a long history of supporting unique approaches to economic disparity, racial equity, and planetary health. We hope to give the new FINNOVATION Fellows a launching pad for growing their businesses that they won’t find anywhere else.”

Fellows receive a $50,000 living stipend, a healthcare stipend, and access to a dedicated workspace at the FINNOVATION Lab in downtown Minneapolis. Tailored curriculum is designed to teach the leadership skills necessary to run a successful social enterprise while working towards individual goals for personal and professional progress. Additionally, each fellow is matched with mentors and coaches to support them throughout the program.

The sixth cohort brings the FINNOVATION Fellowship Program participants to 50 entrepreneurs who positively impact their communities. Alumni of the program have gone on to create revenue-building businesses, raise capital funding, and serve as visible leaders in our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The Fellowship Program is made possible through generous support from the Bush Foundation, known for its commitment to innovation and creative problem solving.

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About FINNOVATION Institute

FINNOVATION Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to building a vibrant and inclusive community of successful social businesses in the Twin Cities that generates meaningful social and economic impact in our region and beyond, by providing a variety of educational programs to entrepreneurs and social business leaders. Housed at FINNOVATION Lab, an inclusive workspace and community inspiring social change, growth, innovation, and experimentation. For more information, visit

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