How We Helped
Next Street helped the Bush Foundation explore opportunities to provide capital and other support to social businesses that are committed to both financial returns and social problem solving.
We started with in-depth research and interviews with local stakeholders – including social businesses, capital providers, and business support organizations – to assess the current social business ecosystem in the Twin Cities. The Foundation also wanted to learn from others’ experience, so we interviewed national thought-leading impact venture funds, incubators, accelerators, and others to capture trends and innovations. A presentation of our findings can be found on the Bush Foundation website, along with more detail on the initiative.
Our research supported two major strategies, including a seed fund and a fellowship program.
In exploring the seed fund strategy, we assessed a range of options, including partnering with local intermediaries on custom mandates, attracting national fund managers, and building a fund in-house that fully integrates with Foundation’s team. Ultimately, Next Street supported a national search and selection process for a seed fund investment manager which culminated in a Urban Innovation Fund, a women-led venture capital firm focused on startups addressing urban challenges, opening an office in Minneapolis-St. Paul to proactively source deals in the region.
To build the pipeline of social businesses, Next Street worked with the FINNOVATION Lab, a Bush Foundation grantee partner, to design a full suite of programming for social businesses, including the fellowship strategy. The fellowship program provides space, a living stipend with healthcare, mentorship, and curriculum to help aspiring social entrepreneurs launch their businesses. The fellowship’s first cohort launched in summer 2018.
“The Next Street team has been instrumental in helping us better understand the capital needs of social businesses in our region. They have been enthusiastic, wise and engaged partners all along the way.”