As a certified B-corp, it has always been important for SIN to give back to our community. We did this by providing technical assistance to small businesses across the state. With the impact of COVID, George Floyd’s murder, and the civil reckoning, SIN’s volunteerism got kicked into overdrive! Between PPP applications, tech enablement, business model restructuring, three of our team members provided over 300 hours of support between July and December 2020. It was clear that this work was competing for SIN’s time, resources and attention; it was getting too big and needed its own infrastructure. So in 2021, SIN’s CEO, Elaine Rasmussen, created a sister organization called ConnectUP! Institute (CI), a 501c3 non-profit.
CI is a social finance and enterprise development studio. We are a studio because, in addition to partnering with entrepreneur ecosystem partners, we provide culturally responsive education for second-stage BIPOC and Rural businesses and develop innovative solutions to solve the systemic challenges to their growth. Our mission is to curate connections among entrepreneurs, investors, and the business ecosystem to advance equitable access to capital, resources, and networks to underestimated entrepreneurs. In 2021, CI launched its Integrated Capital Fund which today has invested over $500,000 of ‘runway capital’ into small businesses. CI also produces the annual two-day ConnectUP! Summit. The Summit brings together a curated group of diverse entrepreneurs, investors, and intermediaries and closes the 180 degrees of separation between underestimated entrepreneurs, investors.