Small Business

Social Entrepreneurship: Resources for 'Patient' Capital


Here's a sampler of organizations and funds that back social entrepreneurs seeking debt and equity financing

During the past two decades social entrepreneurship has gained popularity, and a growing array of specialized funding sources now exist, from angels to venture capitalists to foundations. Some of these investors look for mission-driven businesses that don't sacrifice financial returns at all, while others provide capital for ventures that may trade some profit for nonfinancial returns. Individual models vary, but "patient" capital shares one goal: to fund sustainable organizations that can leverage the investments for big impacts. Take a look at this sampler of resources for social entrepreneurs seeking funding, then read our in-depth story on the rise in potential backers. More elements of this special report are available in the related-items box on the upper right side of this page.

Acumen Fund

Acumen is a nonprofit fund that provides debt and equity investments to ventures fighting poverty in developing countries. Founded in 2001, the New York-based fund has committed more than $34 million across portfolios addressing water, health, housing, and energy issues.

Commons Capital

An early-stage venture firm, Commons Capital seeks socially and environmentally driven companies in the health-care, education, environment, and energy sectors. Commons was founded in 2002 in Brookline, Mass.

Community Development Venture Capital Alliance

Formed in 1993, the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance is a network of venture funds that invest in companies in low-income and distressed communities in the U.S. and abroad. They focus on creating good jobs and improving communities. The alliance, which is a nonprofit, also has its own investment fund.

Investors' Circle

Investors' Circle is a network of angels, VCs, and foundations devoted to funding social enterprises. The group has helped direct more than $130 million in investments to 200 companies since 1992. Investors' Circle also aims to widen the network of patient capital investors.

Good Capital

San Francisco-based Good Capital, founded in 2006, provides growth-stage capital for social ventures. Good Capital funds both businesses and nonprofit social enterprises.

Social Investment Forum

Mostly focused on socially responsible investing in the public markets, the Social Investment Forum also has resources on community investing.

SJF Ventures

Originally established as a "sustainable jobs fund" in 1999, SJF focuses on expansion funding for companies in clean technology, technology services, and premium consumer products that have positive impacts. The fund has an affiliated nonprofit, SJF Advisory Services, to assist portfolio companies and other socially driven entrepreneurs.

TBL Capital

TBL Capital, which stands for triple bottom line, seeks to fund growth-stage companies across sectors whose mission benefits "people, planet, and profits." The $50 million fund, based in Sausalito, Calif., has a portfolio of seven companies so far, including organic consumer products, solar energy, and green design.

Tozzi covers small business for BusinessWeek.com.

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