Lots of Dinero Still on the Table: SBA’s $1B Impact Investment Fund

By G. Nagesh Rao

How many of you knew about the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)  “Impact Investment Initiative”? Are any of you aware of the announcement that Administrator Karen Mills made over a year and a half ago at the unveiling of the White House’s Startup America program? Most likely, not many of you, as has been the case during my time travels across the U.S., which is unfortunate, because the U.S. government has a plethora of amazing programs but if you are not plugged into the DC scene it is tough to have the most up-to-date “411 on Govt 101.” My goal with these guest postings is to help bridge the knowledge gap divide.

Let’s talk shop, SBA’s I3 program is a $1 billion dollar initiative directed towards the supplemental financing of entrepreneurial endeavors that take a triple bottom line philosophy and approach. As Andrew Burger commented in his March 12th posting, the first endeavor to have finance backing by this initiative just occurred with SJF III Ventures for cleantech economies. Earlier a more localized focused impact investment fund was created for the Michigan area called InvestMichigan!

The initiatives focus on areas pertaining to “clean energy” and “education” business endeavors focused from a “place-based” or “sector-based” methodology, as they are seen as critical priorities of growth and can most likely be easily measured quantitatively and qualitatively for impact on a region’s economic growth over a period of time.

So how do you, the social entrepreneur, take advantage of this funding opportunity from SBA? First and foremost, this initiative is best taken advantage of via a public-private partnership entity to help make the case for use of implementation of the funds into an “economic ecosystem.” Secondly, some bright and licensed financial professionals will need to be recruited to help drive the financing aspects of the project forward in a particular region that could benefit from the funding opportunity while enabling a sustainable growth model. Finally, the initiatives need to, at this time, focus on areas pertaining to “clean energy” and “education” business endeavors as they are seen as critical priorities of growth and can most likely be easily measured quantitatively and qualitatively for impact on a region’s economic growth over a period of time.

At this time, only one major “green-lighted” project has resulted, which means there is still a lot of money on the table and thus for the social entrepreneur it would be wise to formulate a team to take advantage of this federal funding opportunity. The best part about this funding opportunity is that it is geared towards enabling sustainable and triple bottom line business endeavors. What is not to love?

{Image Credit: SBA}                                                                                                                                                                                                    
G. Nagesh Rao was a former Senior Policy Advisor with the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Currently he serves as an Expert Strategist on IP-Law and Technology Commercialization to a number of  cutting edge organizations and councils including Publicbeat, Launch:Energy, LACI, and Global Access in Action. Finally he does randomly tweet on twitter when incentivized to do so.

 

 

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