D.C.-based Zeal Capital Partners, a new, inclusivity-minded firm focused on investing in early-stage fintech and future of work companies, closed its first fund valued at $22.3 million.
Zeal Capital Partners was founded by local venture capitalist Nasir Qadree, who previously held leadership roles at Village Capital, AT&T’s $400 million Social Investment Fund and Pier 70 Ventures, earlier his year. The firm is on a mission to invest in fintech startups creating alternative financial products, and future of work companies focused on building more pathways to education and removing barriers along the way.
“I believe that the best entrepreneurs reflect the diversity of this country and the men and women that built its institutions, whether or not they have been credited for their contributions historically,” said Qadree, who’s also a managing partner at the firm, in a statement. “It is vital that we be more intentional and inclusive in how we address barriers to entrepreneurship and that we leave no one behind in redefining how to make it in America.”
Zeal Capital Partners secured funding from PayPal, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a university endowment, business leaders and family members. The PayPal investment came as part of the digital payment company’s plan to invest $50 million in eight early-stage venture capital funds led by Black and Latinx investors.
Technical.ly recently talked to Qadree about what he thinks needs to change in the venture capital world to see more inclusive investments. He’s also featured in the season two premiere of our investor education podcast, Off the Sidelines.
Zeal’s “inclusive investment” strategy has five components, including focus on diversity of fund managers themselves and broad geographic range within the U.S., Qadree told us last month.
“I think we’re going to see an investment community who will expand their dinner tables, who will really lean into these other markets where Black entrepreneurs are thriving, [including] here in Washington D.C.,” he said then about changing trends in the VC world. “We need the next AOL in our own backyard.”
New York-based fintech company Esusu secured an initial investment from Zeal from its first fund. The two-year-old startup cofounded by Wemimo Abbey and Samir Goel created a savings and credit building application to help users increase their credit scores and save money. Esusu closed a $2.3 million seed round in August that included the investment from Zeal.
The firm is also a member of the newly launched Baltimore-D.C. chapter of BLCK VC, a national org that aims to grow the number of Black VCs.-30-