DC Startup Week / DEI / Entrepreneurs / Investing / Municipal government

DC gov and 1863 Ventures are launching a $1.25M fund for small businesses

Applications open Wednesday for the Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund. It's designed to create more access to capital DC-based businesses with women and BIPOC founders.

Entrepreneurs discuss their business with attendees at the 2018 Minority Innovation Weekend. (Courtesy photo)
DC government is launching a million-dollar investment fund for women and BIPOC entrepreneurs in DC.

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) today opened a $1.25 million Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund.

The fund, which is geared towards founders who are based in DC, and “economically disadvantaged or have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias,” is intended to address the gap in access to capital that many local founders have experienced. It aims to boost equity by providing direct investments to businesses that are led by diverse entrepreneurs and seeking to grow in the District, per DMPED.

DC-based venture capital fund 1863 Ventures will administer, manage and disburse the funds following the application period, which closes next summer. At the outset, there’s no set check size or number of businesses that the program is aiming to fund.

Investing in local founders, Bowser said, can also help the city’s overall economic recovery in the wake of COVID. The mayor’s office and DMPED announced the fund launch at an event for DC Startup Week.


“Right now, we’re very focused on how local businesses can play a big role in DC’s comeback, and the Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund is going to support those efforts,” Bowser said in a statement. “This fund is one more way we recognize that in DC, our diversity is our strength.”

On top of funding local founders, the program aims to develop a pipeline of attractive investment opportunities in DC. In order to qualify, companies need to be majority-owned (at least 51%) from a founder of an underrepresented group, and the startup must have under $2 million in annual revenue. Applicants also must certify in writing that they are unable to receive financing via traditional lending methods — following the pandemic-accelerated trend of flexible funding options.

Selected applicants will receive a year of support on individualized business plans, with funding used to develop investment opportunities such as venture capital.

“All DC entrepreneurs deserve a fair shot, and this fund is one of the ways we are working to provide that,” said DMPED’s John Falcicchio in a statement. “Some businesses experience more hardships than others, making it more difficult to obtain funding from commercial lenders and IIEIF was created to level the playing field by helping those businesses that have been overlooked and underfunded.”

Applications open at 3 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Apply here
Companies: 1863 Ventures / District of Columbia

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