The BALSA Foundation recently updated our Mission and Vision statement, with the goal to crystallize who we are and what we do for ourselves, our applicants, the entrepreneurial community, and for the future of our Foundation.
The original statement guided the Foundation during our formation. After two years, four BALSA Grant rounds, and 38 BALSA Grant finalists, it became clear it was time to update the Mission and Vision statement to more precisely address who we serve and to what end.
A committee to refine the Mission and Vision statement was led by Daniel Povinelli, a board member with significant nonprofit leadership experience. Povinelli said, “By coming to a clear consensus about the problem our grant programs, outreach efforts, and mentorship programs were intended to address, we could then focus these programs in a way to make the biggest difference to the Saint Louis entrepreneurial community.” He continued, “If you know who you are, others will too.”
The Original Open-Ended Vision
The BALSA Foundation was founded in 2014 as an effort to support and expand the local St. Louis entrepreneurial community. We were created to encourage first-time entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into businesses. Many people have great ideas for a venture, however turning them into an actual business can seem an insurmountable hurdle. We aim to lower the barriers for first-time entrepreneurs and empower individuals with great ideas and passion to start their businesses.
The original Mission and Vision statement aligned with the programs we developed to provide resources and support for first-time entrepreneurs. These programs provide financial resources, mentorship, and education to empower first-time entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into businesses and connect them with the St. Louis entrepreneurial community.
While we clearly met our goals of serving first-time entrepreneurs, the original Mission and Vision statement was relatively open-ended. Povinelli said, “What was less clear was whether our Foundation was primarily addressing all first-time entrepreneurs or whether there was a population of first-time entrepreneurs that we were best poised and excited to support.”
Serving Entrepreneurs With the Most Need
The committee deliberated on the entrepreneur population our Foundation sought to support, and agreed the Foundation’s focus should remain on first-time entrepreneurs to provide them with support and resources to build their first business. However, for the BALSA Grant, the Foundation was most passionate to assist first-time entrepreneurs from underrepresented and underserved communities and demographics where there are higher barriers to entrepreneurship.
“The new Mission and Vision statement crystalizes our mission by explicitly stating that our grant and mentorship program is designed to support individuals who most need the resources (small grants, mentorship) and who are most likely to benefit from them,” said Povinelli.
These changes do not alter our character or operation. Instead, the statements reflect more precisely our actions and will contribute to our long-term stability.
The updated Mission and Vision statement represents us embracing and solidifying our role and mission in the St. Louis entrepreneurial community. With respect to the new statements, Povinelli said, “The updated Mission and Vision statement sends a strong signal to the Saint Louis community that The BALSA Foundation has a specific and complementary role to play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of St. Louis.” He continued, “We are looking to occupy that sweet spot where we support highly-motivated individuals for whom our level of support can be life-changing.”