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 area.
These St. Cloud entrepreneurs recently completed the Enterprise Academy—an Initiative Foundation business-building program that features a 12-week training program matched with free and ongoing business coaching plus access to flexible loans and other capital. Participants build skills and receive support in starting and running a business. The program is supported by Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization, Higher Works Collaborative and the Central Region Small Business Development Center.
The entrepreneurs join 11 prior cohorts of St. Cloud graduates, now representing nearly 100 current and aspiring business owners in the St. Cloud area.
“These entrepreneurs are serving their communities and boosting the St. Cloud economy, and we look forward to supporting and celebrating their future success,” said Brian Voerding, vice president for inclusive entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation. “Empowering underestimated entrepreneurs alongside our core community partners is a critical part of our work.”
The spring 2023 St. Cloud graduates include:
Jeremiah Balisidya: Jeremiah currently owns an auto sales business called Zuri Motors. He would like to expand to non-emergency transportation for those who lack access. He looks forward to seeing his business grow and being able to teach his children about business ownership.
Tanika Cox: Tanika Cox would like to open a dance studio. She wants to help boost self-esteem and promote self-care for women of all ages. Enterprise Academy has helped her “get the wheels turning” on her business idea.
Hibak Dibed: Hibak enrolled in Enterprise Academy to learn tips so she can start her own gold sales business. She looks forward to opening this business and achieving success.
Sarah Drake: Sarah is an artist who specializes in writing and illustrating books, painting murals and teaching. She would like to start her own arts business and is using Enterprise Academy as her launching pad. Sarah founded a nonprofit called herARTS in Action. Her goal is to travel with her art and teach classes all over the world.
Omardahir Hassan: Omardahir currently owns Seedow Logistics, a trucking company. He enrolled in Enterprise Academy to learn ways to expand his trucking business.
Melissa Hawkins: Melissa’s goal is to start a retail store to provide supplies for making cakes, cupcakes, cookies and candy. She currently operates an e-commerce store, cakedecoretc.com. Melissa wants to teach beginner classes and provide a maker space for bakers and candy makers. She enrolled in Enterprise Academy to gain confidence and learn tips to start her business.
Socquies McCurtis: Socquies currently owns a retail clothing store and would like to open her own southern-style restaurant. She wants it to be a destination restaurant with great food and positive vibes. Socquies has appreciated the opportunity to participate in Enterprise Academy.
Anderson Nyamande: Anderson wants to connect Africans through an audio streaming platform he plans to call After5Muzik. He already has launched an online radio station for Zimbabweans and South Africans. Enterprise Academy has helped Anderson learn more about owning a business. Anderson came to the United States from Zimbabwe in 2021.
Omot Ojulu: Omot currently owns a trucking business called Olay’s Transport, LLC, and would like to expand to selling, leasing and renting used trailers throughout Central Minnesota. Omot is excited to use what he has learned in Enterprise Academy to reach his goals.
Charles Owusu: Charles wants to start Yenko, a car-sharing service and airport shuttle business, in partnership with Ibrahim Soumare. He hopes to expand his customer base and has appreciated the opportunity to learn about resources that will help to launch the business. He previously lived in the United Kingdom.
Abdiaziz Mohamed: Abdiaziz wants to purchase a truck to start his own trucking business, making deliveries all over the United States. He looks forward to chasing his dreams of business ownership.
Hodan Omar: Hodan currently owns a trucking business and has a contract with Amazon. She would like to expand to hire employees and purchase multiple trucks. Hodan is currently attending graduate school at St. Cloud State University.
Shawanna Smith: Shawanna would like to start a container-home community and provide services to help people achieve home ownership. She has appreciated the opportunity to get her business plan refined during her time in the Enterprise Academy and to apply for financing.
Ibrahim Soumare: Ibrahim plans to work with Charles Owusu to start Yenko, a car-sharing service and airport shuttle business. Ibrahim previously owned and ran a popcorn business in the Republic of Benin in West Africa. He looks forward to building Yenko to be a leader in the transportation industry and to employ other people.
Kyle Stroh: Kyle enrolled in the Enterprise Academy program to learn how to organize and structure his lawncare company and to gain accounting knowledge. He’s hoping to grow his current company and also start a food truck. Kyle is a disabled Iraq war veteran and received the Army Commendation Medal.
Fatuma Yasin: Fatuma owns Asha’s Beauty in St. Cloud Crossroads Mall. This is the first Somali-owned store in the mall. She can’t wait to use what she has learned during Enterprise Academy and apply it to her business.
The Enterprise Academy is supported by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; the U.S. Small Business Administration; the Neighborhood Development Center; U.S. Bank; Falcon National Bank; and the Wells Fargo Foundation. Additional support comes from a host of Central Minnesota partners, including businesses run by Enterprise Academy graduates and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation. To learn more, visit ifound.org/economy/enterprise-academy.