The Bourbon Friday Show with Mike Bynum from The BALSA Foundation

Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)

On this episode of the Bourbon Friday Show, we had the opportunity to talk with Mike Bynum, Executive Director for The BALSA Foundation.

Pathway to Economic Freedom

Many people find that getting involved in their community is one of the best ways to help set down roots and feel more at home when they move to a new city. So when when Iowa native Bynum moved to St. Louis to pursue his MBA at Washington University, he wanted to get involved and volunteer in the community.

He started out consulting with The BALSA Group (Biotechnology and Life Sciences Advising) and soon began volunteering with the BALSA Foundation. After volunteering for awhile he was eventually hired as the Executive Director for The BALSA Foundation program.

“The BALSA Foundation was created about four years ago to be the philanthropic arm of The BALSA Group and to give back to the community,” says Bynum.

Twice a year the BALSA Foundation opens up a grant application—and the only requirement is to be a first-time entrepreneur. While they accept applications from all types of businesses, they have a special focus on the underserved community. They typically see 90 to 100 applicants each round and then whittle that number down to 10 grant winners through screening, review, and due diligence processes. Once they have selected the ten businesses, each gets $1,000 and is invited to participate in a ten-part learning series covering a wide range of topics for new entrepreneurs.

With over 90 graduates (100 by the end of this year), Bynum sees an opportunity to help these businesses after they leave the program.

“I want to make sure we’re not just getting folks in the door, but taking care of them once they move along,” says Bynum. The BALSA Foundation, in conjunction with The Pershing Charitable Trust, now offers an additional $5,000 in follow-on funding to select program graduates in order to help with the expenses of expanding a business.

If you want to learn more about The BALSA Foundation or how you can become a volunteer, you can go to http://www.balsafoundation.org/.

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Bourbon Innovation

As always, the Bourbon Friday team does their best to choose a fitting drink for the occasion.

This week the drink of choice is Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select. To pay tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of Jack Daniel, the company began The Gentleman Jack Pitch Distilled competition. Each year, pitch competitions are held in five US cities, with the victors from each city going on to a larger pitch competition later in the year. With topics ranging from sustainability to social equity, it’s a great way to not only keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive, but help make the world a better place.

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Megan McDonnell is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Tenacity, an open source web development agency based in St. Louis. Originally from Kansas City, Megan graduated from St. Louis University in May 2017 with degrees in Communication, Marketing, Spanish, and Graphic Design. Besides managing all marketing and communication efforts for Tenacity, she also covers the Bourbon Friday Show hosted weekly by EQ, Tenacity, and Connect Marketing.