The Liist | October 3, 2023

The Liist, October 2023: Native and women-led funds tap opportunities in climate and creativity

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, October 4 – There may be too few female fund managers managing too little global investment capital. But in many months, more than half of the managers featured on ImpactAlpha’s Liist of actively raising impact funds are women. This month: five of six. 

Blume Equity, whose all-women founding team is rare among climate-focused fund managers. The firm is raising €200 million to fill a growth-stage funding gap for Europe’s climate tech ventures. 

Skoden Ventures is the first venture fund led by Native women that we’ve come across through our outreach for the Liist. It is unfortunately not surprising: less than 1% each of venture and philanthropic funding go to Native-led organizations. Impact investors take note: Native-led investment and financial firms often go deep with their impact objectives. Skoden, which invests in diverse-led creative enterprises, seeks “social, cultural, natural and human” returns alongside a financial return. 

Three other women-led funds on this month’s Liist are directing capital to African founders. Kazana Ventures is building a 50% women-led portfolio of early-stage ventures supporting economic inclusion, access to healthcare and education, and more efficient flow of goods and services in Africa. ShEquity focuses 100% on early women-owned and led businesses in Africa. Linea Capital in South Africa is providing revenue-based funding as a founder-friendly source of capital in a market environment that is making it increasingly difficult for founders to raise equity. 

Headwater Ventures is a health tech investor that aims to drive improvements in America’s healthcare system that serve underrepresented and vulnerable patients. Many of the companies in Headwater’s early portfolio are women- and diverse-led. 

(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 shall constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities.)

Blume Equity

One-quarter of all venture capital in Europe is going to climate technologies. Few women are in the driver’s seat of that capital. Blume Equity and its all-female team of founders is an exception. The growth-equity investment firm just notched a €40 million investment from the European Investment Fund for its planned €200 million, Luxembourg-domiciled fund. Other backers include Swedish pension AP4, the Visa Foundation, and Chicago-based Impact Engine.

Impact-linked. Blume Equity has so far backed five companies, including carbon accounting venture Normative, which helps large companies account for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Aerones makes robotics for wind turbine maintenance. The firm tracks impact metrics related to carbon emission reduction and other environmental factors. A portion of the fund managers’ remuneration is tied to achieving impact goals. 

Contact Clare Murray for more information.

Headwater Ventures

Resource and capital scarcity are among the reasons vulnerable, rural and low-income communities fail to receive many modern technologies and breakthroughs. Minneapolis-based Headwater Ventures invests in early-stage health tech companies whose products and services make it easier to reach underserved patients in the US. 

The venture capital fund has made more than 20 investments, including Elion Health, which help healthcare providers evaluate vendors. Woman-led Venteur helps companies offer health plans to their employees. 

Headwater is raising its second fund, which has a target of $25 million. It has secured 10% of its target from the Bigelow Foundation and the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation.

Diversity lens. Headwater focuses on underrepresented founders. Its portfolio includes Nice Healthcare, a Black woman-led primary care startup, and mental health-focused Option MD. Headwater was founded three years ago by Matt Miller, who also leads UnitedHealthcare’s startup accelerator program. The firm raised $3 million for its first fund. 

Contact Matt Miller for more information. 

Kazana Fund

Kazana connects early-stage African ventures to a network of angel investors. It is now raising a dedicated fund to drive more capital to founders and economic opportunity on the continent. The fund measures growth in income for women and their families; improved access to health and education; and improved cross-border movement of services and resources. 

Woman-led Kazana wants to build a portfolio of 50% women-led companies. Its Mauritius-domiciled fund is looking to raise $10 million.  

Market correction. The equity funding tap in Africa has slowed to a trickle amid the venture downturn (see, for example, Trouble at Twiga… and Copia… and Sendy: downturn hits East African logistics disruptors).

“Recent highly-public failures are driving a course-correction for founders to focus on business fundamentals including cash-flow, product-market fit, business skills and incremental growth over valuation,” Kazana’s team says. Founders, they say, “want the expertise, skills and networks to build and thrive with these fundamentals.” 

Contact Hilina Risom for more information.

Linea Capital

Linea provides non-dilutive financing to help women founders retain equity in their businesses. 

“The gender-lens market is deepening, but also widening,” Linea founder Julia Price told ImpactAlpha last year. “We’re seeing a lot of collaboration between women-led funds and angel investors, which is developing the value chain.” 

The South Africa-based firm is looking to raise $30 million to invest in companies with impact missions tied to women’s economic inclusion and job creation. Early investors in the open-ended vehicle  include the Dutch Good Growth Fund and USAID.

Collaborative effect. Linea provided a bridge round to SweepSouth, a gig-booking site for domestic cleaners, ahead of the woman-led company’s Series B equity round. The company has since had to make difficult strategic decisions, including shuttering operations in Nigeria and Kenya to refocus on South Africa. 

Linea stepped up to provide more non-dilutive financing from roughly 50 women angel investors. “Where debt is unavailable and expensive, and raising equity is highly dilutive, revenue-based finance is an important alternative,” the firm says.

Contact Julia Price or Colin Hundermark for more information.


Women lead as many as 40% of Africa’s small businesses. Yet women face a capital shortage of tens of billions of dollars. ShEquity is addressing women-led companies’ capital and resource gap through an equity investment fund and 17-week business accelerator program. 

The Mauritius-domiciled fund is looking to raise at least $25 million to make early-stage investments in women-led and -owned impact companies in Africa. ShEquity uses a variety of instruments, including equity, SAFEs, convertible notes, and mezzanine financing, depending on the stage and needs of each portfolio company. It has secured $3 million and an investable first-loss guarantee. 

First deals. ShEquity has made 10 investments, including one from its new fund. Nigerian fintech venture Owoafara offers digital payments, credit, savings, insurance and pension services to the unbanked. Shuttlers is helping Africa’s urban commuters more easily get from place to place. Ecodudu is recycling food and other organic waste to farm insects as a more sustainable protein source.

Contact Pauline Koelbl for more information. 

Skoden Ventures

Humility and respect. Fortitude and persistence. Kinship and community. Reciprocity and generosity. These are the core values Skoden Ventures says it looks for in entrepreneurs. The Indigenous woman-led fund manager backs young companies in the creative economy that “authentically reflect and express” Native, Black, Brown and other underrepresented consumers in the US. 

“The next generation of productivity, jobs and wealth creation in the US will stem from ventures founded by these entrepreneurs,” the firm says. “First movers filling this capital gap will unleash this growth, capture extraordinary returns, and lead a generational shift in equitable wealth building.” 

Skoden was launched by Kelly Holmes, who is Mnicoujou Lakota. It is raising $10 million for its first equity fund for companies creating immersive experiences, media, entertainment, “edutainment” and experiential marketing and retail. 

Impact incentives. Skoden evaluates portfolio companies based on opportunities to create social, cultural, natural and human returns alongside financial upside. Its impact assessments are decided with the companies it supports. Skoden’s model also includes impact-linked compensation, or impact carry, and profit-sharing with creative communities.

Contact Alice Loy for more information.