Black Economic Development Fund (Source: LISCStrategicInvestments.org)

S. E. Williams | Black Voice News

The Black Economic Development Fund (BEDF), managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a nonprofit community development financial institution, has reached its $250 million goal for capital to invest in Black-led banks, anchor institutions, businesses, and real estate developers and is now preparing to roll out its first investments.

The BEDF, which launched last summer, is part of LISC’s Project 10X, a $1 billion strategy to address racial gaps in health, wealth, and opportunity. The private investment fund has raised capital from 11 public and private corporations, with McKinsey and Company recently coming in with $15 million.

“We’re excited about the outpouring of interest from impact investors because it speaks not only to the quality of the fund but to a deepening recognition that access to capital is what facilitates access to opportunity,” noted George Ashton, managing director of LISC Strategic Investments, the fund management arm of the corporation, one of the country’s largest community finance organizations.

“Impact investors are aligning their treasury strategies with their missions in order to fuel a stronger economic base for their businesses and economic justice for their customers,” he added.

First Investment Recipients

With the BEDF now fully subscribed, LISC also announced the fund’s first five investments this week, with as many as 20 additional fund investments expected by year end. 

The initial transactions include deposits in two Black-owned banks to help build their capacity, as well as diverse loans to three Black-owned real estate development companies that are building and expanding economic opportunity and jobs in the communities where they operate.

The common thread is that these firms—like so many minority-led enterprises—have not generally had access to the flexible capital they need to grow. LISC’s goal is to provide financing that helps them expand their businesses, while also helping lay the groundwork for other investors to follow.

Included among the five recipients are Optus Bank, Columbia, S.C.;Unity National Bank, Houston;: Dantes Partners, Washington, D.C.; Bridging the Gap (BTG), Pittsburgh; and Phoenix Adams Rising, Jacksonville, Fl.

Investing to Ensure Prosperity 

“The Black Economic Development Fund allows us to make an impact by investing in Black and Brown talent who want to be in this industry and ensure they prosper,” noted Buwa Binitie, with Dantes Partners. “The investment represents freedom for us to be who we want to be and own our projects. It allows us to scale in ways that we never quite imagined. In very short order you are going to start seeing ribbon cuttings for the transactions for which this fund is activating.” 

According to Lisa Glover, LISC president and CEO, “All five of these transactions illustrate the power of inclusive investing. They fuel Black-led businesses and benefit communities of color, and they also contribute to th/BEDFe broader landscape of regional economic opportunity by catalyzing jobs, local income, commercial activity and quality-of-life gains. They are helping build a broadly shared prosperity, well beyond the individual activities supported by each investment.”

Corporations Invested in BEDF

Investors in the fund include: Netflix, which helped launch the fund, Paypal, Costco, Square, Inc., Aflac, Wayfair, DuPont, McKinsey and Co., ThermoFisher, HubSpot, and Dicks Sporting Goods. 

“Fueling social mobility and opportunity like this was our vision for kicking off the Black Economic Development Fund last summer,” said Aaron Mitchell, director of HR, and Shannon Alwyn, director of treasury, with Netflix. “More and more companies recognize that redirecting capital to Black-led institutions improves equity at the grassroots level, and we invite other corporations to do the same.”