The Liist, December 2023: Fund managers walk the talk on impact fund strategy and structure

ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

Guest Author

Lucy Ngige

ImpactAlpha, December 5 – Women investing in women. Africans investing in Africa. Impact-aligned fund compensation and fees. This month’s Liist of actively raising impact funds highlights how fund managers are rethinking incentives and drawing from lived experience to achieve their impact goals. 

In Germany, Masawa is raising a €40 million fund to tackle the global mental health crisis. That includes the need to care for the mental health of tech innovators themselves. The firm is tying half of its carry, or profits, to impact targets, including mental health and leadership support for founders, and giving 10% of its carry back to founders. “As investors, we can help founders better navigate their inner world and balance the dilemmas inherent in leadership,” says Masawa’s Huria Ogbamichael. 

Social Finance is charging below-market fees and taking no carry to deepen the impact of its Social Finance Impact First Fund. The Boston-based nonprofit, known for designing and catalyzing capital in innovative finance structures, is raising the fund to support first-time fund managers by unlocking and deploying capital sitting in tax-advantaged donor-advised funds.

The three funds on this month’s Liist that are investing in emerging markets have teams from and based in the markets they’re serving. The second fund from Nigeria-based, female-led Aruwa Capital is making growth equity investments in businesses in West African businesses that cater to female consumers and commit to empowering female team members.

VestedWorld is raising $50 million for its Rising Star Fund to invest in early-stage startups throughout the African continent. And Colombia-based EWA Capital is a women-led fund that invests in female founders in Latin America and the Caribbean. It requires all of its portfolio companies to demonstrate women’s empowerment initiatives within their organizations. 

Also on this month’s Liist: Rethink Food, with a targeted $100 million fund to back tech companies like climate analytics venture Gro Intelligence and lab-grown meat venture Omeat that are aiming to build a more sustainable food system. 

Disclaimer: The Liist and this post are based on available information, sourced by ImpactAlpha. Information has not been further reviewed by the managers nor verified by third parties, is not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness, and should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations. Nothing in The Liist, this post or on ImpactAlpha.com shall constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities.


Aruwa Capital Fund II 

Lagos-based Aruwa Capital is a female-led growth equity company that backs local businesses in Ghana and Nigeria. Its mission is to help West Africa’s businesses become more women-centric, with women in leadership, on teams, in their supply chains and as consumers. 

“Due to our gender-lens strategy, we are closing the significant female funding gap where less than 4% of capital in Africa today is going to female-led businesses,” the firm says. “The gender imbalance amongst capital allocators provides an untapped opportunity for women as capital allocators to invest in untapped segments of the economy, with a natural competitive advantage.” 

Aruwa is raising a $40 million second fund to cut checks of between $500,000 and $3 million to healthcare, financial services and energy companies and providers of other essential goods and services. 

Its portfolio includes Wemy Industries, a manufacturer of consumer and hygiene products, and Koolboks, a provider of renewably-powered refrigerators for food and drug storage and transit. 

Contact Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes for more information [LINK].


EWA Latam Fund II

Colombia-based EWA Capital invests in early-stage impact tech companies targeting the education, healthcare, financial services and retail sectors. The firm, a women-led spin-off from the Nazca (formerly Mountain Nazca) group, focuses on companies either led by women or promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment within their organizations. 

EWA’s second fund is raising $25 million. It has secured $17 million of that target with backing from the IFC, Bancoldex, Fundacion WWB, Visa Foundation and Latam Impact Fund.

EWA invests up to $1 million in companies through equity, convertible notes and SAFEs. The five investments it has made from Fund II include Bia, a Colombia-based, AI-powered energy monitoring and conservation service for companies. BeReaders is a business-to-business edtech venture supporting reading comprehension for K-12 students. 

Contact Patricia Sáenz for more information. 


Masawa Nurture Capital Fund

One in three adults and one in five youths struggle with their mental health. Germany-based Masawa invests in startup founders destigmatizing and supporting mental wellbeing. Its investment approach focuses on the mental wellbeing of tech founders as well. 

Masawa is raising a €40 million Nurture Capital fund to make seed and Series A equity investments in European companies like Wellspent.so, which addresses excessive smartphone usage by helping users set time limits on designated apps. 

Masawa has raised €5 million. It is primarily raising from family offices and high-net worth investors in the US and Europe. 

Walking the talk

Startup life and culture can mean long hours and high stress. “As investors, we can help founders better navigate their inner world and balance the dilemmas inherent in leadership. This is likely to increase their wellbeing, their ability to maximize their individual potential, and have a sustained impact on the people around them over time,” argues Masawa’s Huria Ogbamichael. “Moreover, it optimizes portfolio performance and increases access to deal flow.” 

Half of Masawa’s carry is tied to impact targets, and mental health and leadership support for founders; 10% of carry goes back to founders. 

Contact Joshua Haynes for more information.  


Rethink Food 

New York-based Rethink Food is raising a $100 million fund to support the sustainable production, consumption and reuse of food. The venture firm says the food system is at a precipice of seismic shifts in food production and delivery.” It invests in early-stage companies in regenerative and precision farming, ingredients production, waste management, and sustainable logistics and packaging helping to “reduce costs, increase access to healthy food and prioritize positive environmental effects.”

Rethink has raised more than $27 million for the fund and made seven investments including cultivated meat startup Omeat, plant-based food producer Motif FoodWorks, Gro Intelligence, an AI-powered agriculture and climate analytics platform. 

Contact Viktoriya Lushkova for more information.


Social Finance Impact-First Fund

Social Finance is known for ushering investment capital into underserved markets and communities through innovative mechanisms like social or career impact bonds. The Boston-based nonprofit is raising $250 million for a fund aimed at unlocking the big pools of capital locked up in tax-advantaged donor-advised funds for impact-first deals. 

The Social Finance Impact-First Fund will mostly invest in diverse-led impact funds directing money to disadvantaged communities. 

It has backing via recoverable grants from DAFs at the Boston Foundation, Fidelity Charitable, and Vanguard Charitable, and a direct DAF investment from the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Investors commit to a five-year lock-up period, after which they have withdrawal rights. 

Emerging managers

A goal of the fund is to build capacity within a new crop of impact fund managers. Social Finance has invested $5 million in Blackstar Stability’s Distressed Debt Fund, which buys and converts predatory mortgages into traditional mortgages that help Black homeowners in particular build home equity faster. It also invested $2.5 million in Candide Group’s Afterglow Climate Justice Fund to develop impact projects in climate-vulnerable communities. 

Social Finance will track how many first-time fund managers it invests in, gender and diversity in fund leadership, and which funds are focusing on underserved communities, climate change and other impact themes. 

Contact Jess Brooks for additional information. 


VestedWorld Rising Star Fund

VestedWorld was founded by Euler Bropleh, from Liberia, to invest in African businesses supporting local job creation and economic empowerment. The company invests up to $1 million in pre-seed to Series A companies in agriculture, manufacturing and other tech-enabled essential businesses.

VestedWorld has raised more than $28 million of its maximum $50 million target for its Rising Star Fund. It recently secured backing from Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund. 

“It’s a fact that capital isn’t yet matching the opportunities that exist,” says VestedWorld’s Nneka Eze, who is based in Lagos and herself has built a business in Nigeria. 

Gender smart

The firm is particularly focused on supporting women and other historically underserved entrepreneurs.

“By supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and businesses, the fund promotes diversity and inclusivity in the startup ecosystem, fostering innovation and growth,” the firm says.

It invests in line with the 2X Challenge for women’s equality and empowerment. “This addresses a critical gap in many regions where women often face barriers to accessing capital and participating in economic activities.”

Rising Star is VestedWorld’s second fund, which invests via a mix of equity, debt and revenue-based financing. The fund has made 20 investments, including Ghanaian cancer research company Yemaachi, and Shuttlers, a tech-enabled public transit platform for commuting working professionals.

VestedWorld is eying deals in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as existing markets. 

Get in touch online for more information.