Funding Closes on First Nationally Focused Impact Investment Fund

SJF Ventures and Citi Community Capital, Citigroup’s community lending and investment group, announced the closing of SJF Ventures III LP, the first nationally focused Impact Investment SBIC fund. Licensed by the US Small Business Investment Corp. (SBIC) under its new Impact Investment Initiative, the SJF Ventures III fund will make equity investments in growth-stage cleantech and “positive impact” companies.

Durham, NC-based SJF has been successful in raising and investing capital in smaller, community-oriented businesses with an environmental ethic for 12 years. To date, its investments have helped finance 34 young businesses focusing on efficiency and infrastructure, reuse and recycling, sustainable agriculture and food safety, and technology enhanced services.

Launched in April, 2011, SBIC’s $1 billion Impact Investment program is part of Pres. Obama’s “Start-Up America Partnership.” The program “seeks to increase the SBIC program’s economic impact by 1) proactively collaborating with institutional investors to identify and capitalize experienced private equity fund managers to make ‘impact investments’ into small business concerns and 2) providing expedited licensing and capital to fund manager who qualify to organize and operate an ‘Impact Investment SBIC.'”

Banks Get Behind SBIC’s Impact Investment Program

Citi and other banks’ participation in SJF Ventures III should help bolster their public image at a time when it’s exceedingly low. Also investing in SJF Ventures III are Deutsche Bank, Calvert Equity Portfolio, Armonia, Abacus Sustainable Fund, Trillium Asset Management LLC, the CAPROCK Group, OpenBox, ImpactAssets, and multiple family and individual investors.

“Citi’s commitment to communities across the United States is defined by investments like this and we are proud to partner with SJF Ventures on this initiative,” Andrew Ditton, managing director and co-Head of Citi Community Capital, stated in a press release. “We believe that this fund is a powerful way to make a lasting impact through revitalizing communities and helping create a framework for greater entrepreneurship.”

“Citi has been a critical partner since SJF’s inception in 1999. By partnering with us on capitalizing a larger, national fund, Citi is playing an essential role again,” added David Kirkpatrick, SJF Ventures managing director and co-founder. “We have several exciting high-growth, positive impact companies we are eager to invest in with the fresh capital.”

Triple Bottom Line Impacts

One of SJF’s portfolio companies is eRecycling Corps which is in the business of wireless carrier trade-in and recycling of mobile devices, only 10 percent of which are recycled. Over 1 billion replaced mobile phones have accumulated in households in the US, and it’s likely they will end up in landfills in the US or foreign countries rather than being reused or recycled, according to the EPA.

In February, eRecycling recently expanded its business, announcing the establishment of its international headquarters in Brussels, shortly after KPCB invested $35 million in the company.

Establishing its business in Europe is a stepping stone for eRecycling, whose ambition is to build a “global network of carrier and retail partners offering consumers instant in-store credit for wireless device trade-ins.”

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email:

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