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Acara offers workshop for budding social entrepreneurs

Three-session series starting Feb. 14 will provide an introduction to opportunities for entrepreneurial spirits who want to "do good while doing well"

January 24, 2013

Can you make a change in the world and make a living doing it? Absolutely! Find out how at Introduction to Social Ventures, a three-part community workshop being offered by the University of Minnesota’s Acara program Feb. 14–April 4 in St. Paul.

Social ventures, also known as impact or environmental ventures, have gained traction in the past few years, and the concept is finding its way into businesses and nonprofits around the world. The Acara program, a joint program of the Institute on the Environment and the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, has been running international courses for the past several years on developing impact ventures. This experience is now being packaged into a series of evening workshops for people who are interested in understanding more about social entrepreneurship.

  • Thursday, Feb 14. What’s a Social Venture?
  • Thursday, March 7. The Business Model Canvas
  • Thursday, April 4. Impact Investing

All sessions will be held 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in R380 Learning and Environmental Sciences Building, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul. Sessions are $30 each.

To sign up, go to

A short summary of each class is below. Questions about the classes may be directed by email to Fred Rose at

Feb 14. What’s a Social Venture?           

Impact ventures (also known as social ventures) are a growing area of interest and attraction as a way to both make positive social or environmental change and do well as a business. This session is an introduction to what makes an impact venture, what makes it both different and the same as a "regular" venture, and how impact is measured. Impact ventures have two value propositions: an economic one (just like any other business) and a social one. We’ll spend time in this session on what a social value proposition is, how we measure it, and how the two propositions fit together.

March 7. The Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a simple but effective way to develop and describe a venture developed through design thinking practices. You don’t need an MBA to understand it or use it, yet even MBAs will find it useful. It is important because impact businesses are still businesses and will live or die based on that. The business model canvas gives a common language to talk about the ventures.

April 4. Impact Investing

Funding mechanisms for impact ventures are rapidly and continually evolving. Investments are necessary to make the movement real. This session will cover traditional funders, social funds and crowd funding and will be useful both to people interested in funding social ventures and to those who are seeking funding.

About the instructor: Fred Rose is a program director at the University of Minnesota with more than 30 years experience across corporate, nonprofit and academic settings. He has been on the founding team of ventures in three countries, has extensive experience in leading global teams and has many years experience in teaching innovation.

The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment seeks lasting solutions to Earth's biggest challenges through research, partnerships and leadership development. For more information, visit

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