BII Releases 2020 Impact Report

Boston Impact Initiative published its 2020 Impact Report highlighting the resilient community of small businesses in Eastern Massachusetts and nascent economic justice investment funds across the country. 2020 was no ordinary year! The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, paired with the renewed struggle for racial justice, made 2020 particularly challenging for BIPOC leaders. Through the generosity of supporters, we came together to provide BIPOC small businesses and workers with much-needed assistance by disbursing grant funds, putting in hundreds of hours of technical assistance and collaborating with partners to advocate for the needs of BIPOC-owned small businesses.

“Despite the odds, our portfolio companies demonstrated courage and resilience by creatively pivoting business models, relentlessly pursuing relief funds, and surviving–until they can once again thrive. Amid the uprisings in their cities, [fund-building] cohort members demonstrated leadership and engaged new and broad-based support for investing with a racial justice lens. We are living through a defining moment, and our collective ability to act with care, generosity and justice is being tested.”

– Excerpt from the letter from BII President and Founder, Deborah Frieze

In the BII Fund, our impact continues to have a positive effect on the community:

  • The portfolio is majority run, governed and staffed by people of color;
  • Total compensation in the portfolio was $28.5 M;
  • The portfolio pays the vast majority of its workers above living wage; and
  • Despite the pandemic, most companies grew revenue and raised follow-on capital.

We invite you to read more here.

BII announces our new CEO

Message From Our President

Dear Friends,

Every so often, a moment arises when an organization takes a giant leap into its future. This is one of those moments for the Boston Impact Initiative.

When BII first launched our pilot fund in 2013, there was no such thing as a racial justice lens in impact investing. What a long way we’ve come since then! With eight years and over 60 investments under our belts, we’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to invest to close the racial wealth divide in our communities. Over the past few years and especially in 2020, that’s emerged as a central thesis for many funds in Massachusetts and throughout the nation.

Today, our fund and the entrepreneurs we’ve invested in continue to thrive, despite the challenges of COVID-19. Our Integrated Capital Fund-Building Cohort members are well on their way to launching their own place-based funds. So now our work is about transforming the field so that closing the racial wealth divide becomes integral to any community-focused investing strategy. That means sharing what we’ve learned about how to source, diligence, structure and manage investments based on the principles of economic justice. It includes helping to rebalance the relationship between financial and impact returns so entrepreneurs are rewarded for the social and ecological impact they create. And it includes exploring innovative governance structures that disaggregate capital from power so that the patterns of the past aren’t recreated in the funds of the future.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve been working closely with our Board on identifying a new leader for the organization with the skills, passion and relationships to take BII into the future. We feel enormously fortunate to have found that leader in Betty Francisco, who I am honored to announce as BII’s incoming CEO.

If you haven’t crossed paths with Betty yet, you probably will soon enough. Betty comes to us from Compass Working Capital where she has served as General Counsel for the last 3½ years. She is also the co-founder of Amplify Latinx and sits on the boards of BILH, the Boston Foundation and Nellie Mae Education Foundation, among others. Boston Magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Boston in 2020 and 2018, and the Boston Business Journal named her as one of the 2020 Power 50 – Extraordinary Year Extraordinary People. Betty is no stranger to BII, as we’ve been blessed to have her serving on BII’s Investment Committee since January 2019.

Since the onset of COVID-19, Betty has been a force of nature on behalf of entrepreneurs of color who have disproportionately endured the ravages of COVID-19 on their economic well-being. I’ve witnessed her light a fire underneath lenders and angel investors, technical assistance providers and researchers, philanthropists and policymakers to take action to correct structural inequities in our communities. Betty will begin her tenure as CEO on May 17th, when she’ll bring that passion and dedication to BII as a platform from which she can continue to build multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaborations throughout our state and beyond.

I will continue in my role as Board President to partner with Betty in transitioning BII into its next stage of growth. Please join me in welcoming our new CEO.

Warmly,


Deborah Frieze
Founder and President

 

Message From Our Incoming CEO

I am excited to join BII as its next CEO and grateful to Deborah and the Board of Directors for putting their confidence in me to lead the organization at a pivotal point in time for Boston and the nation.

A little over two years ago, Deborah Frieze opened the door for me to dive into the impact investment space when she invited me to join the BII investment committee. I was a budding angel investor with a passion for supporting female founders and entrepreneurs of color. I aspired to become a venture capital investor to grow the bench of Black, Latinx and immigrant investors as a pathway to wealth-building in communities of color. The opportunity to steward BII’s mission and to be part of investment decisions that were transforming small businesses has been a blessing and privilege. BII helped me develop a deeper understanding of how to move beyond traditional impact investing towards creating restorative capital that puts power, ownership and control into the hands of founders and communities that have been overlooked and underinvested in for far too long.

This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis and racial reckoning have given me clarity around where I want to make the most impact at this time: transforming the capital landscape for entrepreneurs of color to close persistent racial and gender wealth gaps. As a business leader, ecosystem builder and diversity, equity and inclusion advocate, I look forward to bringing these skills and experiences to my new role. BII provides a fertile ground to grow a powerful investing and systems change model to uplift communities and businesses of color that are the backbone of our economy. This is the right moment in our nation’s history to shape and advance bolder, community-driven solutions to address systemic wealth gaps at scale. I am proud of the achievements and pioneering work of BII’s board, staff and advisors and excited to partner with this exceptional team which has created one of the most innovative and impactful funds in the industry. As I join BII, my goal is to amplify its mission and to help steer it towards its next strategic phase.

I look forward to continuing to build on the foundation set by BII to advance social, racial, and economic justice, and to meeting the larger BII community in the coming months.

With gratitude,


Betty Francisco

Latinx Drink Company, Waku, Receives Line of Credit

Waku produces and sells horchata lojana, an ancient Andean herbal beverage that promotes a healthy gut. The Latinx-owned business sources its herbal ingredients from small-scale indigenous farmers in Ecuador at fair prices and has pursued organic certification for many of its ingredients. After producing and bottling its products in Ecuador, Waku distributes them in New England stores and direct to customers through its website. In 2021, BII provided Waku with a line of credit to even out cashflow as the company grows.

Learn more about Waku and find out how you can try Waku by ordering online or finding it in a store near you.

BII Stands with the AAPI Community

Dear Friends,

Boston Impact Initiative condemns the racially motivated murders in Atlanta on March 16th. This act is another case of the uniquely American plague of mass shootings, which tragically occurred again just days later in Boulder. But the Atlanta attack was a mass shooting mixed with white supremacy – something that we also witnessed in Charleston in 2015, Pittsburgh in 2018, and El Paso in 2019. We stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in their grief, and we lift up the experiences of women, for whom this violence is appalling yet its misogynist roots are familiar. For the AAPI community, this is another horrific incident in a long history of being targeted, excluded, and scapegoated in this country.

For me, I feel a personal connection with the AAPI community. My grandmother, Fredisvinda, came to the U.S. from the Philippines as a war bride in 1951. The U.S. held the Philippines as a colony from 1898 to 1946 and maintained an enormous naval base there until 1992. My American grandfather was in the U.S. Navy during WWII, stationed at Subic Bay.

When my grandparents moved back to the States with their daughters, they settled in Pennsylvania and my grandmother made her new home despite being faced with anti-Asian sentiment. This harassment ranged from neighbors protesting when my grandparents purchased their house to people yelling “Die, Japs!” and making machine-gun noises when my grandmother was out with her daughters. But my grandmother loved the U.S. She was the first in her family to emigrate and she encouraged many Filipino relatives to become U.S. citizens by serving in the U.S. Navy.

I am sharing this personal story to say that the people who were murdered on March 16th, most of them Asian-American women, each had their own story. And like my grandmother, many were striving for a decent life despite the anti-Asian harassment and violence perpetuated by their neighbors and the government.

At BII, we are standing in solidarity with the AAPI community in the Boston area, which has suffered harassment, economic hardship, and lack of access to capital, especially in the last year. Here are some organizations that are doing exceptional work in Eastern MA. Please join us in supporting them.

Chinatown Community Land Trust
Chinese Progressive Association
The Boston Foundation Asian Community Fund
VietAID

Sincerely,

Aliana Pineiro

Impact Director, Boston Impact Initaitive

BII & RSF Partner to Provide Roundhead Brewing with Equipment Financing

Roundhead Brewing is the first Latinx-owned craft brewery in Boston! The solar-powered brewery will open in 2021 in Hyde Park in the former Powerhouse at Westinghouse Plaza. The brewery aims to be a community space that will sell a variety of craft beers and fresh pizza in the taproom and beer in cans to-go. In 2021, BII invested in a term loan as part of a larger equipment financing facility in partnership with RSF Social Finance to purchase electric brewing equipment. Learn more here

Roundhead also raised over $100,000 from over 240 investors through Mainvest, platform that connects communities with local, brick and mortar businesses. Their success bodes well for a neighborhood that will embrace the new local brewery. Watch the video about Roundhead Brewing here.

BII Seeks Impact Investment Associate

JOB DESCRIPTION

Impact Investment Associate

Location: Boston, MA

Industry: Non-profit / Financial Services

Employment Type: Full-time

 

Contact: jobs@bostonimpact.com

 

Overview

The Boston Impact Initiative Fund is an impact investing fund dedicated to closing the racial wealth divide. We invest integrated capital (equity, debt and grants) in regenerative local enterprises that restore the productive capacity of communities of color in Eastern Massachusetts. We are a 501(c)3 charitable loan fund that has raised $7M from values-aligned accredited and non-accredited investors. We also host a cohort of 11 communities around the country seeking to design and launch integrated capital funds dedicated to closing the racial wealth divide.

 

BII pioneers an integrated capital approach for capital deployment. We believe that we can best support the creation of resilient local economies by using a range of integrated capital tools: loans, credit enhancements, equity investments, royalty finance, direct public offerings, crowdfunding, grants and more. 

 

Responsibilities

The Impact Investment Associate plays a significant role in BII’s integrated capital strategy. The primary responsibilities include vetting prospective investments and providing on-going support to existing portfolio companies. Responsibilities also include:

  • Conduct due diligence for prospective investment opportunities.
  • Maintain portfolio tracking reports and written documentation on investment decisions.
  • In collaboration with colleagues, discover, define and evaluate new investment opportunities and their fit in the portfolio.
  • Research and present analyses of the total portfolio performance and risk profile.
  • Collect legal documents from companies and liaise with fund attorneys to put together documents for investment.
  • Coordinate and attend annual meetings with portfolio companies, assist with analysis of impact data, assist with annual impact report, and assist with on-going impact management of portfolio.
  • Track technical assistance provided to portfolio companies.
  • Perform any and all other duties and responsibilities of a similar nature and character those above, which may be assigned and/or directed.

 

Qualifications 

  • Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 1 year of relevant work experience in FP&A, Corporate Finance, and/or Business Controller positions.
  • Demonstrated interest in and understanding of economic justice, gender equity,  sustainability, and/or related topics.
  • Excellent skills in quantitative analysis, problem solving and general critical thinking. 
  • Resourceful, proactive, able to prioritize and navigate in a fast-paced team-oriented environment.
  • Unquestioned ability to handle confidential information in a professional manner. 
  • Knowledge of investment assets (e.g. stocks, bonds, property, commodities, cash) and markets. Knowledge of analytical methods for determining fair value and an investment’s merits. Knowledge of investment implementation methods, including types of fund vehicles (e.g. mutual funds, ETFs, private partnerships) and typical fund terms in both public and private asset classes. 
  • Bilingual in Spanish is a plus.

 

Compensation and Benefits

This is a full-time, exempt position. The salary range is $50,000 – $65,000 and commensurate with experience. Boston Impact Initiative offers a work environment that supports the unique needs of each employee to balance work and life. We offer a benefits package that includes an employee bonus pool, remote and flexible work options, health coverage, paid time off and professional development support. 

How to Apply

The Boston Impact Initiative is an equal opportunity employer. Boston residents, women, people of color, immigrants, queer and gender nonconforming people strongly encouraged to apply. 

To apply, please email your cover letter, resume, up to 3 references, and a link to your portfolio or examples of relevant work ​to jobs@bostonimpact.com​.

In your cover letter,​ ​please answer the following questions with no more than 3-5 bullet points per question:

  • What about BII’s mission appeals to you?
  • How does this role align with your current career trajectory?
  • What aspects of your experience are you most eager to contribute toward this role?
  • Anything else you would like us to know.

Our ideal start date for this role is April 2021 with interviews beginning in late February 2021. Applications will be evaluated as they arrive and the position will remain open until filled.

Job Posted on DATE 2/9/21

Caraballo Accounting Receives Financing for Growth

Caraballo Accounting provides accounting and HR services and training to Latinx small business owners in Eastern MA. Through cultural competence and Spanish-language instruction, they address barriers for local entrepreneurs looking to launch, grow, and expand their businesses. Owner Franklin Caraballo has partnered with various local Latinx organizations to address the need for advisory support and small- business coaching in the region. He currently serves the communities of Lowell, Lawrence, and Worcester. In 2021, BII made a loan for expanding the team and building out its online training platform.

Learn more about Caraballo Accounting

Nonprofit Chelsea Business Foundation Receives Loan from BII

The Chelsea Business Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in the development of the business community in Chelsea, MA and fosters increased access to resources for Chelsea’s Latino business community and other small businesses. Its goal is to create an engaged community by hosting events and providing resources, technical assistance, and financial support. CBF is an enabler for small business owners to grow and scale their businesses. In 2020, BII provided a loan and a line of credit to Chelsea Business Foundation to support its technical assistance for small businesses.

Learn more about Chelsea Business Foundation

El Planeta Receives BII Loan to Meet Growing Demand

El Planeta is an integrated Latinx news company producing content and events relevant to the Latinx community in Massachusetts. Its reach spans to more than 200K people on a weekly basis through print, television, and digital. During the pandemic the readership increased to 500K. With more than 10 countries represented in the staff, El Planeta is an essential link between organizations, companies, and government to the Latinx community and highlights stories of under- represented Latinx communities. In 2020, BII provided a line of credit to El Planeta.

El Planeta’s Javier Marin on working with Henry Noel Jr. to close his loan from BII:
“[Henry] knows exactly how to speak to a small minority business owner. We are small in size but giants in spirit. Our companies are our life. Henry managed to convince me that BII was more a partner than a lender. At the end, we both worked tirelessly to get the loan efficiently closed before year-end. I will always be grateful to him and BII. You guys bring more than just funding, it is like air to breathe, energy to think and force to grow.”

Learn more about El Planeta

MentorWorks Partners with Impact Investors to Fund ISAs

MentorWorks aims to make higher education and technical training more accessible through income share agreements (ISAs). In partnership with different universities and community colleges, MentorWorks provides both income-share based education financing and career mentorship, the first platform to do so. In addition to expanding access to higher education, MentorWorks models inclusive ownership. 50% of the business is owned by people of color, and employees have equity in the company.

In 2020, BII invested in MentorWorks through a special funding vehicle (SPV), along with ECMC Foundation, enabling Mentorworks to fund the higher education of students, primarily of color, who are attending community colleges or enrolled in technical training programs in Boston.

Learn more about MentorWorks