Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sarah Hauer, 8/10/21
Northwestern Mutual said Tuesday it has created a new $100 million impact investing fund through its initiatives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.
The new fund will direct investments in the Milwaukee area and nationally with a focus on three areas: physical and social infrastructure, access to capital for individuals and businesses, and healthy sustainable neighborhoods and communities
The idea is to use the company’s investment expertise and scale to address inequality, said Ray Manista, executive vice president and chief legal and compliance officer at Northwestern Mutual.
“We don’t believe that impact investing and positive returns for our policy owners are mutually exclusive,” Manista said. “We believe that those things can coexist.”
Northwestern Mutual, a Milwaukee-based financial services company, has more than $308 billion in total assets. It manages more than $200 billion of investments.
The new $100 million fund has already invested more than $30 million.
One of its initial investments is in The Gateway Capital Fund, an African American-led venture capital fund that focuses on investing in Milwaukee County businesses.
“While we believe the number of great ideas per capita is equally distributed, the capital and resources aren’t,” said Dana Guthrie, who manages The Gateway Capital Fund. Guthrie also founded the investment company Alchemy Angels.
Gateway has raised more than $13 million so far. The fund intends to make its first investment in the next month or so, Guthrie said.
Northwestern Mutual has also invested in Clear Vision Fund, which makes investments in Black and Latino-owned businesses, companies that operate or serve underserved markets and businesses that have commercially sustainable business models.
The new fund was a result of Northwestern Mutual’s Sustained Action for Racial Equity task force that launched in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
This new initiative builds upon Northwestern Mutual’s other efforts to invest in Black and African American communities.
The company dedicated $20 million of its venture capital funding to Black-founded startups last year. It also launched the Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accerlator with gener8tor.
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