Adults aren’t the only social entrepreneurs. Kids can get in on the act as well.

ows_142932331311895Joy McBrien says she founded Fair Anita for selfish reasons. While working at Ten Thousand Villages— a fair trade retailer with storefronts all over the United States — she noticed that women her age would happily shop there for their moms, but almost never for themselves. McBrien could relate: She loved the store’s mission but seldom saw anything on the racks that felt modern and chic enough to buy and wear herself. She wanted a place to shop that sold stylish, responsibly created clothes, jewelry, and accessories for college students and young professionals. And since nothing like that existed, she set about building it herself.

McBrienworks full time on Fair Anita from her home in St. Paul, MN where she does everything from website updates and shipping inventory to local boutiques, to co-designing new items with her vendors. All Fair Anita items are made by women artisans and come from Guatemala, Peru, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although Fair Anita’s primary mission is to provide economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, and leadership opportunities to women in developing countries, the company also works with and supports many artisan groups comprised of women who have been victims of sexual violence. This is an issue and cause close to McBrien’s heart, and one that is interwoven with the founding of her company.

From the Riveter. Click here for the full interview.

There’s more. Here is a intro to Joy in the August 2015 issue of Minnesota Business magazine (Page 26).


Rob, Leah, and Anna, first round Innové winners, share their experience with potential new Innové winners. Key moments:

3:45 – What was the best thing you experienced going through the Innové process?
6:20 – What was the worst part of the Innové process?
9:20 – How does the incubation process work?
10:15 – What sort of relationship did winners develop with Colonial?
12:45 – How baked was your idea when you applied for Innové? How long did it take to get up and running?
17:45 – How did the idea of Innové get started? Why do mission this way? What is Colonial’s ongoing connection with winning organizations?
23:10 – What percentage of your post-Innové work has been dedicated to fund-raising?
25:35 – What did you focus on in the weeks leading up to the pitch? What are some tips for the pitch?
31:00 – What strings are attached to winning the money? Why do you keep coming back?
35:00 – What were the exact awards? What are the hopes of the judges?
37:15 – Did you enter the competition solo or as a team?

Meet our 2015 Innové Protégé, Lori Magstadt of Launch Ministries.


Lori Magstadt [Navigated by Jane and Rob Davidson]

Youth and young adults in the southwest metro are struggling in many areas of life including housing, employment, transportation, finances, mental health, addictions and decision-making. Launch Ministry, which has provided mentoring, Bible studies and support groups, has expanded to pilot the only resource center in the southwest metro to connect homeless youth with services they desperately need. After seeing tremendous need in the two months of being open a few hours per week, Launch wishes to secure the dedicated space and staff in order to operate 5 days per week to better meet the needs of those who are struggling.

Eric Jenson: 3D Printed Arms

Brian —  March 4, 2015

Meet our 2015 Innové Protégé, Eric Jenson of Magic Arms.


Eric Jenson [Navigated by Al Qureshi]

I’ve started a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a WREX device to every child who needs one. Our organization was inspired by Emma, who was born with a rare disease. Without a WREX, Emma was not able to lift her arms.  Tens of thousands of kids like Emma are born each year. Only 1-2 children per month are being fitted with 3D printed WREX devices out of A.I.DuPont Hospital for Children in DE. We will increase bandwidth by establishing care centers around the country, and we will work to develop an off-the-shelf version of WREX that will be covered by insurance.

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-up, Walid Issa of Shades Negotiation.


Walid Issa [Navigated by Rick Larkin and Bill Aldridge]

Walid Issa and Ethan Roberts represent Shades Negotiation Program (Shades NP), an executive negotiation and leadership training program, developed and delivered by distinguish global negotiation experts and practitioners for mid-career men and women moving into positions of influence in the public and private sectors in Israel and Palestine. Shades NP aims to develop a network of Palestinians, Israelis and international diplomats (based in the region), who are able to address difficult conflicts more effectively, using the methodology jointly learned and the channels of communication among the network members.

Keiona Cook: Sewing Training

Brian —  March 4, 2015

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-up, Keiona Cook of Lovely Sewing.


Keiona Cook [Navigated by Jodi Powell]

Life skills Learning Center is for underprivileged youth that come from low income families, have ADHD and other behavior problems. Our main method is to teach the skill of sewing. Sewing teaches patience and focus. The other components the learning center will offer are digital screen printing, embroidery, and Fashion CAD. The location will also host parties as a fun learning tool.

Meet our 2015 Innové Protégés, Team Kinosol.


Elise Kendall (Team KinoSol) [Navigated by Craig Westgate and Rob Kirscht]

KinoSol is a detachable mobile solar dehydrator that dries food for consumption, sale, and to extend shelf life.  KinoSol is marketed towards rural areas where cars aren’t the primary means of transport. The system can be attached to non-car transit sources by a hitch, increasing market accessibility and connecting farmers in small communities. The dehydrator component detaches from the main frame and can be replaced by storage units. Allowing food to dehydrating at home, additional produce can be sold at the market. KinoSol has a freestanding kickstand so individuals can perform other tasks while their food dehydrates.

Matthew Glover: Somali Cooking

Brian —  March 4, 2015

Meet our 2015 Innové Protégé, Matthew Glover of HOYO.


Matthew Glover [Navigated by Jason Puett and Dylan Decker]

We want to empower Somali women through Somali food. Single moms are the normal in Somali cultural. We want to ease the burden of these moms through employment and access. Our product is the labor intensive Sambusa, a meat pastry. We will hire Somali women to make these Sambusa in bulk and distribute them to western markets creating jobs and awareness for Somali cuisine. We will also distribute them to Somali markets and make them available to Somali moms who will no longer have to make them from scratch nightly.

Meet our 2015 Innové Protégé, Joy McBrien of Fair Anita.


Joy McBrien [Navigated by Kristin Day]

Empowering women as leaders can positively transform the world. My project – Fair Anita – unleashes the power of the female entrepreneur. We provide trendy products made by female entrepreneurs around the world. The sales of these products provide economic opportunity for over 1000 talented yet marginalized women in 10+ developing countries. Our message is women investing in other women, creating positive impact globally.


Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-ups, Donormite.


Eric Darling [Navigated by Jane Wilson]

Our idea is to inspire generosity by allowing people to buy specific items for MN nonprofits. Imagine being able to buy a space heater for a local women’s shelter this past winter (True Story.) Our platform – Donormite – is committed to inspiring teens and young adults in the Twin Cities to be generous. We allow anyone, especially younger people, to create fundraising projects to raise support for Minnesota nonprofits specific needs. We want to enhance our service to allow seasoned donors and organizations to easily match the fundraising projects of younger donors, further encouraging them to be generous.

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-up, Bryan Boyce of Cow Tipping!


Bryan Boyce [Navigated by Jim Cross]

We all were born in a given place and time among people with developmental disabilities, yet how many of us see and know these peers in our daily adult lives? Despite appreciable gains in the past half century, adults with developmental disabilities are a still too often segregated and thus marginalized group. My vision is to cultivate a corps of young leaders who will channel this population’s unique narrative capabilities through creative writing classes, events, and publications, allowing our developmentally disabled brothers and sisters and their stories to “disruptively” integrate with broader society and create cascading dialogue, understanding, and change.

Meet our 2015 Innové Protégés, Venture Miles.


Aaron Smith [Navigated by JA Schwartz]

Venture Miles would be a program that combines miles-based fundraising for missions with devotional journeys and spiritual disciplines – the result being measurable change in both participants and in oppressed, unreached and vulnerable people around the world.

Our vision is to engage 10,000 people in sacrificial, faith-forming experiences, logging over 1 million miles, and raising 8 million dollars to measurably impact 62,000 poor, oppressed and unreached people, all for the Glory of God.

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-ups, Erik and Carissa.


Erik Swenson [Navigated by Traci Vitale]

Along with students at Bethany Global University (BGU) we will develop skills to work in, start and sustain Christian Montessori schools worldwide. Innové would support team members and other BGU entrepreneurs with a business and proven educational model that reaches children, their parents and communities. The Montessori model goes beyond religion, race and economic status drawing children and adults to hear the Gospel.

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-up, Bart Phillips.


Bart Phillips [Navigated by Elliot Wachter]

For 11 years I had lead a grassroots tutoring and mentoring organization that provides a unique free afterschool program to inner city students in Chicago and, as of this fall, Minneapolis. Our unique curriculum focuses lessons, discussions, and projects around the values and awareness core to building and maintaining strong communities. I have purposefully built this organization independently from my professional career with the intent of finding other individuals with a passion for service and the connections a professional career brings to create a community unto ourselves.

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-up, filmmaker JD O’Brien.


J.D. O’Brien [Navigated by Randy Larson]

We want to create a documentary called “Out In the Cold: A week of experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis.” Premise: A young man makes himself homeless for a week during the dead of winter in Minneapolis, in an effort to empathize with those who have to put up with that challenging reality.

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-up, Thompson Aderinkomi of Retrace Health.


Thompson Aderinkomi [Navigated by Phil Krafft]

Our idea is to create a new kind of clinic with very little overhead that caters to the smaller budgets and tighter schedules of low income and middle income American families. RetraceHealth provides medical care, in the comfort of our patients’ homes at a transparent price that low/middle income American families can afford despite their high deductibles.

Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-ups, Rachel and Jake Beaudry.


Rachel Beaudry [Navigated by Tim Anderson and Jinny Jensen]

YOYO is a Thursday night volunteer program developed to empower the kids and teens of the Frogtown neighborhood through connecting them with Christ and developing a mentorship relationship with the YOYO leaders.



Meet our 2015 Innové Runner-up, Hayden Larson.


Hayden Larson [Navigated by Ellen Quereshi]

Our idea is to use the simple idea of a Christmas ornament to both share the good news of the Christmas story and create jobs in places of poverty. We started in Haiti by employing Haitians to build beautiful Christmas ornaments, then sold them through a variety of outlets in the US, reinvesting the money back into Haiti to support many worthy causes like churches, schools, feeding programs and more job creation. Innové would take the concept to Guatemala and create jobs there.


We’ve gotten some very interesting and very strong feedback from our first round Innové applications.

Certainly, the $250,000 was a big draw, but we’ve heard time and time again that it was the mentoring and coaching that they felt was the most valuable resource they received from Innové. But even beyond $250,000 and coaching, we’ve found that there are even more benefits to applying to Innové, some of which might not be evident at first glance.

  1. The very act of applying helps hone your vision and mission. There is something important about having to put something down in writing. We’ve gotten feedback from applications who were thankful just for the application! The discipline of answering the application questions forced them to think more clearly about what they hoped to accomplish and how they planned to accomplish it. The initial application isn’t designed to be long and intensive, but we’ve found that even that process has been a benefit to young social entrepreneurs who are working to clarify their thinking around their ventures and ideas.
  2. Again, the coaching is invaluable. Did you know that social ventures have launched Innové without having received any money? Many found that the coaching and mentoring that is involved with the Innové process was exactly what they needed to both serve as a sounding board, or also to sometimes serve as some invaluable course corrections. None of us can do this alone. Several have found that having someone believe in them and push them in positive directions was EXACTLY what they needed.
  3. Networks are increased and community is formed. Social entrepreneurism can be a very lonely place. It’s invaluable to know that you aren’t alone and to have a placebo connect with like-minded peers, who understand you perfectly because they are on the same journey you are. Many first round applicants remarked that a benefit they weren’t expecting with Innové – but were thrilled to have received – is the new connections and friendships it formed. Not only did many connect meaningfully with their peers, but they also were introduced to brand new professional networks that were an integral part of their future success.
  4. Future funding often hinges on early success. How often have you heard from a potential investor, “Come and talk to us in a couple years once you can demonstrate some success.” That first dollar is the most difficult. With Innové being willing to take a chance on untested ideas that we can help nurture, it opens up the door for future investment.

The coaching and $250,000 are certainly exciting. What’s even better, however, is that there is a host of other benefits in applying to Innové. If you were considering applying, it’s time that you simply take that plunge. It’s worth it.

Colonial Church seeking young entrepreneurs is also the title of the news piece that ran in Edina’s Sun Current last week. The story focuses on our 2nd round of Innové, plus also mentions our November 3rd “Investing in Dreams” event where we celebrate both local entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurs in developing nations around the world.

An excerpt:

Colonial Church’s grants for young social entrepreneurs worked so well that they’ve decided to do it again.

And this:

Last year’s Protégé Leah Driscoll, founder of the Twin Cities Mobile Market, will be joining a panel discussion during Colonial Church’s Investing in Dreams event. Investing in Dreams will focus on investing in meaningful ways by investing in social entrepreneurs and helping people in need. The event is 7:30-9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, at Colonial Church, 6200 Colonial Way, Edina.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

The Benefits of Innové

Brian —  October 5, 2014

Beyond the obvious possibility of $250,000 in prize money, there are other benefits to Innové. In fact, time and time again, the feedback we’ve received is that the below benefits are much MORE valuable than the money.

  1. Undergo a rigorous process and receive constructive feedback on a project or venture they have eagerly desired to pursue but for which funding and assistance has been unavailable. The actual process of applying for Innové forces you to hone your mission and strengthen your plan.
  2. Receive hands-on coaching from a team of mentors and coaches with a wealth of successful experience in a variety of marketplace and entrepreneurial ventures to improve and develop a venture idea for judging by a panel of experts.
  3. Gain experience and feedback on how to pitch and communicate your venture, not just for the sake of Innové, but for other future partners as well.
  4. As a semi-finalist, participate in a one-day workshop with marketplace and cultural leaders as well as other semi-finalists in order to build relationships, receive encouragement and further refine ideas, and then “pitch” their venture to a panel of judges.
  5. As a Protégé, have an opportunity to present their winning idea audience of prospective supporters and investors and the congregation of Colonial Church and participate in “incubation” with project mentors to receive further consulting, financial and business planning assistance, and funding awards.

Innové is not just simply about the money. Innové is about relationships, networks, skill building, mentoring, and so much more.