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.
Founder and President
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.