Acara Impact Ventures

Through courses, fellowship funding, mentorship and training, Acara support students and alumni in successfully launching impact ventures. Teams have developed projects based in North America, South Asia and East Africa. Among them:

Apis Krishi

Apis Krishi aimed to help rural Indian farmers leave the cycle of poverty by promoting beekeeping education and removing the financial risk of beekeeping.

BlueFood Fish and Greens

BlueFood Fish and Greens produces year-round, premium fish and greens for Twin Cities markets. BlueFood started its work with Acara by providing consulting and marketing services to street vendors in India to help improve food safety.


Caddisfly produces a low-cost water testing kit that works with a mobile phone and  is easy to use in the field. Caddisfly is now partnered with the Netherlands-based AVKO Foundation.

City Compost MN

City Compost MN is a Minneapolis based waste-processing company that cuts trash volume and creates a valuable end product.

Eat For Equity

Eat For Equity builds a culture of generosity through sustainable community feasts that raise money for nonprofit causes. It has 10 chapters around the U.S.  View Eat for Equity’s feature in the Star Tribune here.


E-Grove designed an accessible collection service to help citizens of Bangalore, India, responsibly recycle e-waste, then launched a similar service in the Twin Cities.

Help Desk Furniture

Help Desk Furniture did a pilot in Uganda in the summer of 2014, creating handcrafted furniture from Ugandan hardwood.

Mighty Axe Hops

Mighty Axe Hops provides Minnesota craft breweries with rare, local, and organic hops.  Mighty Axe Hops was a semifinalist in the 2014 MN Cup, and recently secured funding and land for company expansion.

Connect with Mighty Axe Hops on Facebook

Mighty Axe Hops news: Minnesota Business June 2016, Minnesota Business, The Growler

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Freedom Fund aims to level the playing field by helping low-income people in Minnesota post bail. So far, Simon Cecil, Freedom Fund founder, has bailed 39 people out of jail under the condition that they will show up to their court date.  View an article from the Star Tribune about Freedom Fund’s efforts here.


MyRain is improving water use in India by selling drip irrigation kits to subsistence farmers through an affordable lease-to-own program. MyRain was one of 17 chosen from 520 applicants in 90 countries to receive a Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge Development award. MyRain is supported by USAID under the Securing Water for Food (SWFF) program, learn more here. Steele was interviewed by Tony Loyd on his podcast, Social Entrepreneur – listen here.

Ova Woman

Ova Woman sells menstrual cups and fashionable absorbent underwear, helping to reduce the burden of feminine hygiene products on landfills. Ova Woman won the Student Division award of $30,000 at the 2015 MN Cup. Elise was interviewed by Tony Loyd on his podcast, Social Entrepreneur – listen here.

Pure Paani

Pure Paani provides portable, hand-operated water filtration devices to a network of micro-entrepreneurs living in communities in which potable water access is minimal.  Pure Paani recently won first place in the graduate division of EIX, or the Entrepreneur and Innovation Exchange.  Watch their presentation for EIX here.


Sabujawalla employed waste pickers to collect and sort waste from Indian households, then sell plastic and organic material to scrap dealers and recycling plants.

Siobhan Powers

Siobhan Powers is a high-end Native American fashion house that showcases and sells fashion created by Native American designers and offers employment to Native Americans with felony records.  Siobhan Powers was highlighted by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association here.

SMS Maama

SMS Maama is a a mobile phone-based educational service in that provides expectant mothers from Uganda with pregnancy and postpartum information via text messages that includes gestational age, nutrition, HIV status, hygiene, postpartum tips, labor and delivery, and development of the fetus. News about SMS Maama from the School of Public Health can be found here. Sonja was interviewed by Tony Loyd on his podcast, Social Entrepreneur – listen here.


Stimulight seeks to improve the quality of life in rural India through the use of clean and reliable LED lights driven by solar-powered microgrids in place of kerosene lamps.


Tuloko helps people find black-owned businesses and events in the United States. Tuloko won the MN Social Venture Cup in 2012.

Turtle King Workshop

Turtle King Workshop is a longboard manufacturer that employs disadvantaged youth in Minneapolis.

Twin Fin Aquaponics

Twin Fin Aquaponics built an indoor aquaponics system that provided fresh fish and leafy greens year-round to local restaurants and residents for two years.

Zuri Apps

Zuri Apps builds apps and then donates 50 percent of profits to charities to help them develop apps or get the technology they need to fulfill their mission.