When it comes to acquiring seed capital to start a business, many American entrepreneurs find themselves overlooked by venture capitalists and struggling for financial-backing support.
With less access to financial services, companies led by diverse management teams are left under-invested and vulnerable to failure. To combat this, venture capital firms are aiming to take the lead in order to empower the next generation of diverse business leaders.
As part of the inclusive venture capital movement, Zeal Capital Partners — a Washington, D.C. -based inclusive investment vehicle for early-stage businesses — has created a solution. To continue its mission of investing in rising ventures and level the playing field to help bridge the country’s wealth and skills gap, it has just launched the Inclusive Investing™ Fund.
Zeal’s $50 million fund — which is anchored by PayPal, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a large university endowment, family offices, notable business leaders, and other investors — was launched with the intent to invest in 20-24 pre-seed and series A stage U.S. businesses over a four-year period with checks ranging between $250,000 to $2 million.
It's a milestone day at @ZealVC !! I'm thrilled to announce our strategic partnership w/ @PayPal. Sending a powerful signal to the private markets. @Andywill29 @JG1732 . So much to be grateful for, yet so much work to be done. It's only the beginning. https://t.co/v6TJaQP35r
— Nasir C. Qadree (@NasirQadree) October 28, 2020
According to Nasir Qadree — founder and managing partner of Zeal Capital Partners — the purpose of the fund is centered around Zeal’s inclusive strategy to focus on the untapped potential within these diverse management teams that need more visibility in order to secure more funding.
“Our inclusive-investing strategy is trademarked as we talk everyday about access to capital for founders who are often left out,” he said. “The very make-up of our fund is everything we don’t see enough of, so my goal as a leader for this vehicle is that other venture capital firms will view us as an example of how to best source and explore investing in companies all over.”
Qadree believes the direction in which our economy is moving needs to place more emphasis on companies dedicated to “painkiller problems” such as education, our workforce, more credit access for under-banked families, and so forth.
“When more than 40 million Americans are unemployed and less than 30 percent are ‘financially healthy,’ it’s abundantly clear that we need more businesses delivering solutions to bridge the wealth and skills gap at scale,” said Qadree in a statement. “Our market-backed Inclusive InvestingTM strategy best positions us to source, invest in, and scale high-growth early-stage businesses all over the U.S., beyond the traditional geographic hotbeds of venture capital activity.”
Zeal’s financial commitment to dissecting and understanding the intersection of financial technology and future of work employment companies includes supporting those who utilize innovative, tech-enabled solutions that mobilize the economy’s trajectory.
“For the past year, we’ve market-mapped these two sectors – fin-tech and future of work – to look at it from a micro-knowledge perspective and supply and demand,” he shared. “Being a leader [for Zeal] means determining how best to build the best infrastructures that will allow more entrepreneurs to get a fair swing at the plate.”
So far, Zeal has made its first investment into Esusu — a fintech company that aims to increase consumer credit scores, lower eviction rates, and fill vacancies by leveraging differentiated data and insights.
As a prime reflection of the company’s inclusive fund, Zeal believes that Esusu will “become the gold standard for assessing creditworthiness in the U.S. and globally,” according to Qadree.
As a firm that leans in first with inclusion to yield diversity, Zeal aims to be a model for other venture capital firms to help widen their lens and increase the number of under-invested founders they invest in.
“I endeavor to challenge existing inclusivity gaps and make Zeal a true investor change agent and innovative model tackling the urgency of this moment while also underscoring our country’s equitable growth trajectory,” Qadree concluded.
For more information about Zeal Capital Partners and its fund, click here.