(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office signaled another step toward creating an Inclusive Innovation Fund on Monday.
The District issued a formal Request for Applications for an investment partner to develop and manage the new fund, which is designed to increase access to capital for companies led by underrepresented entrepreneurs, including people of color, women, LGBT individuals, and people with disabilities. It’s focusing on tech, tech-enabled and non-tech businesses alike.
Funding was identified as the biggest area of need by entrepreneurs who responded for a 2016 report titled Pathways to Inclusion.
“The District’s top priority is increasing access for underrepresented entrepreneurs who would not otherwise secure the investment capital they need,” a description states. “The secondary priority is to enhance the ability of those underrepresented entrepreneurs who have had success in this regard.”
The new request follows a call for input issued earlier this year that officials said yielded 30 responses.
According to the document released Monday, the District is committing to provide $1.5 million to seed the fund. It’s seeking a professional investment partner who will privately manage the fund. Officials also want the fund to grow to at least $6 million through additional funds from private sources.
“This investment professional partner would serve as the funding program manager and be charged with raising private capital, sourcing deals, managing the portfolio, and making a lasting improvement to underrepresented entrepreneurs’ access to capital in DC. The program could be brand new or a new component of an existing program,” the document states.
Applications are due by May 31.-30-
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