Today marks another major milestone for venture capital firm Zeal Capital Partners with an oversubscribed fund that wants to advance economic mobility.
In a press release shared with AfroTech, Zeal Capital Partners — a firm dedicated to narrowing the wealth and skills gaps through its investments — has announced the raise of a $62.1 million inaugural fund, outperforming its initial $50 million goal. This makes it one of the largest funds from a solo diverse manager and one of the largest first-time funds for any solo general partner.
Funding for this raise was led by Truist and PayPal, with participation from other backers such as Synchrony Financial, Bank of America, Foot Locker Inc., RockCreek, Hampton University Endowment, Southern New Hampshire, Skoll Foundation
and Gary Community Investment.
Of those investors supporting Zeal’s new fund, Peter Sanborn — managing partner of PayPal Ventures — said that “Zeal Capital stood out to PayPal because of our shared belief that access to financial services creates opportunity. PayPal made a commitment to fight racial economic inequality, and venture capital funding is a key component of that. Through our investment in Zeal, we hope to empower the next generation of diverse financial services entrepreneurs.”
A press release reports that all portfolio companies with Zeal sign a diversity pledge in which they commit to having diverse management teams (both current and/or potential), align investments with global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and participate in Zeal’s Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) Working Group.
According to founder and first-time fund manager Nasir Qadree, there’s been a “significant underinvestment in postsecondary education, workforce, and financial services” causing the wealth gap to increase which leaves many Americans at a disadvantage. With this fund, he hopes to improve the economic status of those in this country and level the playing field to champion equality.
“We have an opportunity to accelerate innovative, early stage projects so that they can both reduce these disparities and drive high returns,” he shared in a statement. “Zeal aspires to be a true catalyst for economic equity, which it plans to achieve through 25–30 investments over the next four years.”
Zeal is responsible for pioneering the concept of Inclusive Investing™ — a developing investment discipline that allows the firm to hone in on diverse management teams and companies that need more visibility to secure more funding. Through this strategy, Zeal is able to cast a targeted, yet wide net when sourcing companies that will in turn position them to reap outsized returns. So far, Qadree tells AfroTech that “the response from our investors is very affirming—it shows that they see the value and potential of an Inclusive Investing™ strategy.”
“Truist Ventures is committed to investing in and supporting diverse and women founders, while delivering access to innovative solutions for our clients. We’re proudly embarking on the next phase of our journey by making a meaningful investment in a fund that will enable us to provide support at scale,” Vanessa Vreeland — head of Truist Ventures — said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Nasir Qadree and the Zeal Capital Team in executing on the Inclusive InvestingTM strategy, which is aligned with our own purpose and commitment to advancing economic empowerment of communities of color and those who are underserved.”
“This is promising for Zeal, but even more so for our economy at large,” Qadree adds. “This strategy goes beyond diversity — it is an investment discipline that has the capacity to transform the way investors source, invests, and scales businesses, and in doing so, will create new pathways to prosperity for individuals, small businesses, and communities at scale. We pledged to turbocharge economic mobility and now the engines are running.”
As a firm known for being an “inclusive investment vehicle partnering with entrepreneurs bridging America’s wealth and skills gap,” Zeal is determined to innovate a new idea behind what economic mobility looks like in this country and it starts with this new fund.
For more information about Zeal Capital Partners and its fund, visit its website.