Boston, Mass — Boston Impact Initiative (BII) today announced that the organization has launched its second integrated capital fund, known as BII Fund II, a $20 million fund that will invest in enterprises owned by entrepreneurs of color and in community-owned or controlled commercial and residential real estate to prevent displacement in Massachusetts and the Northeast. Recognizing the need for fair and flexible capital for small and medium sized businesses, BII Fund II will invest primarily patient equity into early stage enterprises and real estate to build wealth through ownership and control of assets in communities of color, and help close the widening racial wealth gap.
“Integrated capital — the blending of grants, debt and equity to meet the financing needs of businesses where they are — builds intergenerational wealth and creates real power for communities of color,” said BII CEO Betty Francisco. “With the launch of Fund II, we can help level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color, have an outsized impact on our communities, and set a new standard for what impact equity investment looks like.”
BII has already made six investments in Fund II totaling $1,435,000, including five enterprises — CareAcademy, ChopValue Boston, MathTalk, TrillFit, Valley Home Insulation — and the East Boston Neighborhood Trust real estate acquisition which sets out a new community-governed, affordable housing model for Massachusetts. Those investments are on the heels of BII’s deployments over the last nine years in its pilot fund and Fund I, which totaled $10 million in debt and equity investments in 65+ enterprises owned and led by people of color and women, and $860,000 in grants.
“Over the years, BII has demonstrated its commitment to being a trailblazer in impact investing for racial justice,” said BII Founder and President, Deborah Frieze. “Fund II is another groundbreaking effort to show how impact investors can bring non-extractive equity capital to the markets that need it most.”
Black and Latino entrepreneurs in Massachusetts have an unmet capital demand of $574 million annually. Venture capital accounts for 93 percent of early-stage equity investment, yet only 2.4 percent of venture capital is invested in Black and Latino founders in the U.S. and a mere 0.4 percent went to Black-owned startups in Massachusetts in 2021. The mismatch in capital supply and demand has created a large unmet need for equity financing for enterprises owned by entrepreneurs of color, which Fund II aims to address with patient, non-extractive equity capital for high impact social ventures.
”I’ve seen first hand how BII’s diverse team is responsive to the founders it supports by providing capital, connections and strategic advice, effectively serving as a champion in their corner,” said Malia Lazu, Founder and President of the Lazu Group and BII Investment Committee Member. “This is what trust-based investing looks like.”
BII Fund II is open to investments in all sectors and will prioritize social enterprises owned by entrepreneurs of color that address an unmet need affecting communities of color, build climate resilience and grow community power and voice. Investments in community-owned or controlled real estate will focus on increasing diverse ownership and adding tranches of community ownership and governance. BII Fund II also provides technical assistance, business coaching, connections, and educational programming to support its portfolio investments and strengthen the impact of these enterprises in their communities. Fund II is open to both accredited and non-accredited community investors. To learn more, visit https://bostonimpact.org.
Carl Valenstein of Morgan Lewis represented BII Fund II on its fund formation and note offering on a pro bono basis. BII’s technical assistance and field-building work is supported by a number of philanthropic partners including the Barr Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, Cedar Tree Foundation, Frieze Family Foundation, Hyams Foundation, Kataly Foundation, Mass Growth Capital Corporation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Surdna Foundation.
BII is a nonprofit impact investment fund working to build a future where entrepreneurs of color and their communities have the financial, social and political power to create a sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy for generations to come. To accomplish this mission, BII invests integrated capital in social enterprises and community-controlled real estate to increase wealth and asset-building opportunities for communities of color. BII is also transforming the impact investing field through field-building and education so that economic and racial justice becomes integral to any place-based investment strategy.