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Purpose Should Drive Social Enterprise Ventures

The guiding belief of the Initiators Fellowship is that one person with a good idea can make a big difference in their community—and beyond. But it has to be the right person with the aptitude and network to turn their good idea into purpose-driven action.

The Initiators Fellowship attempts to identify the right people and to support them in their efforts. We call these people “keystone leaders.” It’s a term adopted from the field of ecology where keystone species are those that have a disproportionate impact on their communities. That’s important, because we are looking for Fellows who can—with the right supports—have an outsized impact on their towns and regions.

A supporting belief of the Initiators Fellowship is that a social enterprise venture—a mission-oriented for-profit or nonprofit business—can be a means to this end of positive community impact.

One social enterprise can potentially do a lot of good in the world. And if one can do some good, wouldn’t several do even more good? And might they not be mutually reinforcing? So one of the interesting questions of the Fellowship over time is this:

“Can one social enterprise, guided by an effective leader, encourage and/or support the creation of other social enterprise ventures?”

In his 2014 book “The Purpose Economy,” Aaron Hurst states that purpose is emerging as an economic driver: “The most powerful source of purpose comes when we know we have done something that we believe matters—to others, to society, and to ourselves,” Hurst writes. 

We know our 2020-2021 Initiators Fellows are trying to accomplish with their ventures things that matter to others, to society and to themselves. Our hope is that their purpose-focused approach is contagious and that it leads to the creation of more social enterprise ventures. And, in this way, our hope is that it seeds and cultivates the growth of Greater Minnesota’s purpose economy.