University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The Acara Summer Institute (SI) is an intensive social venture design program for emerging entrepreneurs to refine, pitch, and prepare to launch their ventures. The SI consists of classroom and field experience, including time in the field with social ventures in South India. Participation is by invitation for top teams from the Acara Challenge and IIHS National Student Challenge. The next Acara Summer Institute will be in Bangalore, India in June 2013.

Who should attend?

Social entrepreneurs and leaders of early stage impact ventures. Acara does not make a distinction about what constitutes a social entrepreneur. Acara develops leaders interested in social and environmental change by helping them view their challenges through the eyes of an entrepreneur. These leaders may be in NGOs, businesses, or any other kind of organization, but all have the opportunity to be a change maker.

What’s the objective of the SI?

The objective is straightforward. Acara wants to help young social entrepreneurs increase the likelihood of success for their venture. Teams will come with early stage venture models based on detailed market research.During the SI teams will:

  • Interact with successful social entrepreneurs who will share their stories and lessons learned.
  • Receive guidance from practitioners on legal, financial, policy, and marketing aspects of launching.
  • Refine business models with support of facilitators to develop an executable plan going forward.
  • Develop skills from project management and communication to design thinking and leadership.
  • Build a compelling pitch, and deliver it to a panel of reviewers from industry and financial sectors.
  • Network with mentors, facilitators, funders, and entrepreneurs

Who teaches the Summer Institute?

This SI is taught by faculty from the University of Minnesota, staff from IIHS and guest lecturers. Guest instructors are from leading organizations in India including Quicksand, Ashoka India, India Institute of Management – Bangalore, Covenant Center of Development (CCD), Samuha, InKlude Labs, CHF International, Arghyam, Impact Law Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Upaya, Seed Fund, and more.

Past Summer Institutes

IIHS Social Venture Design Workshop

Summer Institute 2013

Summer Institute 2012

Summer Institute 2011


Acara is the impact entrepreneurship program of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management.