Enterprise Academy

What You Will Learn

Enterprise Academy is the single-largest early-stage entrepreneur training program in Central Minnesota. At the heart of the program is a 12-week business course that provides training and individualized advising to help underserved entrepreneurs start and grow small businesses. The expertly taught classes lead students through basic business principles and helps them start—and ultimately finish—a business plan. Graduates receive ongoing technical support and can also apply for market-rate microloans through the Initiative Foundation.

Entrepreneur Training

Aspiring entrepreneurs learn from business experts as they create their own individual business plan. Classes are once per week for 12 weeks and feature instruction in basic business principles and assistance in creating a business plan.

Business Services & Support

Expert consultants provide one-on-one business support services in areas such as recordkeeping, accounting, marketing and branding, web development, social media marketing and legal aspects of business. These services are available to qualifying existing businesses for a reduced fee.

Small Business Lending

The Enterprise Academy is supported by a lending program and provides access to microloans for businesses owners who may not be able to access traditional sources of capital, including culturally tailored lending. Direct loans are available for up to $50,000 for successful graduates of our Enterprise Academy program or to our business services and technical assistance clients who create a realistic business plan. Enterprise Academy borrowers may also gain access to larger loans through our traditional gap lending program, which requires a lead lender such as a bank or credit union.

Enriching Outcomes Include …

  • Providing unique goods and services to the local economy
  • Revitalization of communities and vacant properties
  • Developing and lifting up community role models
  • Strengthening local economies
  • Broadening participation in the American dream.

Learn How You Can Apply

Interested in applying for a future Enterprise Academy cohort? Complete our Enterprise Academy Interest Form and we’ll contact you when a new cohort is being planned. The next cohorts in St. Cloud are planned for spring 2024. A Mille Lac cohort is tentatively planned for fall 2024.

Business Training Opportunities

Food Safety: Starting a Restaurant or Food Truck

Join us for a workshop that will teach you all the necessary steps to start your own food truck or restaurant. During this workshop you will…

Business Basics
Start Date
November 28, 2023

Starting a Cottage Food Production Business

Learn how to sell food products right from your home. Join us for a workshop on becoming a cottage food producer—an exciting way to enter…

Business Basics
Start Date
December 5, 2023

Learn More About Other Business Services

Contact a member of our team!


16 Graduate from Enterprise Academy

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The Initiative Foundation is celebrating the graduation of 16 new entrepreneurs dedicated to building their homegrown business ideas in the Greater St. Cloud… Read More

You’re Invited: Emerging Entrepreneur Event

ST. CLOUD, MN—The Initiative Foundation invites the public to the 2023 Emerging Entrepreneur Showcase & Awards from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20,… Read More

17 Graduate for St. Cloud Enterprise Academy Class

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The Initiative Foundation, the Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization (CMCEO) and Higher Works Collaborative are celebrating the graduation of 17 new entrepreneurs dedicated… Read More

More in Enterprise Academy

IQ Magazine Stories

Elevating Entrepreneurs

Meet the winners of the Initiative Foundation’s inaugural Emerging Entrepreneur Showcase & Awards event. Read More

Partners on a Journey

Enterprise Academy graduates use connections, knowledge to advance Central Minnesota businesses. Read More

Homegrown Goodness

Search begins for 2024-2025 class of Initiators Fellowship social entrepreneurs. Read More

More in Entrepreneurship