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This DC fund raised $30M to help BIPOC employees become company owners

Apis & Heritage Capital Partners is a venture fund designed to facilitate "employee-led buyouts," which helps BIPOC workers buy companies from retiring owners. Its first close netted double the expected commitments.

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(Photo by Flickr user Flazingo, used under a Creative Commons license)

A new venture fund has plans to empower BIPOC employees by turning them into owners, and it just raised $30 million to make it a reality.

Apis & Heritage Capital Partners (A&H) announced a first close at $30 million this week for its Legacy Fund I — twice as much as the firm was targeting for its initial round. The Ford Foundation, the Zero Gap Fund from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Skroll Foundation, Capricorn Investments, Gary Community Investments and Ascension Investment Management participated in the round.

The D.C.-based venture fund is working to close the racial wealth gap by helping workers of color transition businesses into employee-owned enterprises. Through the “employee-led buyout” model, the fund invests capital into a business to help employees become owners, then makes the money back in company profits. Retiring owners, cofounders Philip Reeves and Todd Leverette said, are offered a fair market price for their business, often with significant tax benefits. Meanwhile, A&H expects assisted buyout workers to accrue $70,000- $120,000 each on average. This is particularly significant for Black and Latinx workers, of which 60% and 65% have zero retirement assets, respectively.

Reeves said that the company had such a strong response to the funding round because of the renewed interest in socially-minded investing.

“A lot of investors would love to put their capital to work in a way that meets ESG goals, and we believe we’ve found a way to do that,” Reeves told Technical.ly, referring to metrics around Environmental, Social, and Governance that investors use to evaluate impact.

Image courtesy of Apis & Heritage.

A graphic shows members of the Apis and Heritage Capital Partners team. (Courtesy photo)

With the new investment, A&H will buy at least eight companies from retiring founders through its Legacy Fund I. Over the next five years, that would convert at least 500 workers into employee owners. For now, A&H will focus mainly on waste hauling, landscaping, elder care, commercial cleaning, food processing and other essential sectors, but Leverette said that the nature of Legacy Fund I means that additional funds will be created as the company moves forward.

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When it comes to investments, Leverette said that human capital is the most important kind, which is why he created A&H to help establish employee-owned organizations. Existing small business owners benefit as well, he said, by knowing that their company will go into the hands of people that care about it and will reduce change, instead of large corporations.

“[Employers] don’t want to see half of their employees fired when they leave, either,” Leverette said.

Going forward, Leverette said that he hopes the investor base for its funds will turn to larger groups and funds that can provide even more support. On top of this announcement, the company will be partnering with the LISC’s New Markets Support Company, which will be its partner for the employee buyout debt tranche.

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