BII and Portfolio Company CASABE Featured on Chronicle 5

Boston Impact Initiative’s Impact Director, Aliana Pineiro was interviewed alongside entrepreneur and owner of CASABE Fruit Store & Deli, Wendy Luzon for a segment about Hispanic Heritage Month on Chronicle 5 on Sept 16th.

Watch here

BII Partners with HBS Impact Fund and LEAF to Support Lawrence Grocery Store

Casabe Fruit Store & Delicatessen is a small grocery store in downtown Lawrence. It is owned and operated by two Latinx Lawrence residents with deep connections to the city as activists and community leaders. The store caries fresh produce and supports local food entrepreneurs by selling their products. In 2021, BII partnered with the Harvard Business School Impact Fund and LEAF to provide working capital to the newly opened store. Learn more

CEO Betty Francisco Receives SCI Idealist Award

SCI’s mission is to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals and organizations through civic engagement initiatives. SCI provides communities with skills and tools to engage citizens to make a difference, with a priority on promoting youth success and healthy communities. In 2021, they recognized Betty Francisco for leveraging her social capital in support of healthy, equitable communities. Watch here. 

CEO Betty Francisco Named one of 100 Most Influential Latinas

BII’s CEO, Betty Francisco was named on Latino Leaders Magazine’s national list of 100 Most
Influential Latinas 2021! She is in the company of other CEOs and business executives, politicians,
actors, writers and even Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor! Read more

Beantown Builders Receives Financing for Growth

Beantown Builders is a Brockton-based general contracting firm that specializes in residential remodeling projects in the Greater Boston area. The company works with first-time homebuyers who take 203K loans to remodel the homes, which are often distressed properties. In 2021, BII made a loan to Beantown Builders to support company growth. Learn more

BII’s CEO Inducted into YW’s Academy of Women Achievers

Since 1995, as part of its mission to promote and celebrate the achievements of women, YW Boston has held the Academy of Women Achievers celebration. This is an event through which they recognize and honor some of Boston’s brightest, boldest, bravest and most influential women. BII’s CEO Betty Francisco was among the Honorees for the 26th Annual Celebration in 2021.

CICD Receives Line of Credit to Support Affordable Housing Development

Caribbean Integration Community Development (CICD) is a non-profit housing and community development organization that creates and maintains affordable housing in areas of Boston with large numbers of people of Caribbean descent. The organization’s first affordable housing development is Cote Village in Mattapan, which will be permanently affordable and meet LEED Silver Sustainability Standards. In 2021, BII extended a line of credit to CICD to smooth cash flows and facilitate its growth. Learn more

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.