Margaret Bradley is on a mission to make Philadelphia “the center of the impact investment universe.”
Bradley cut her at teeth at The Reinvestment Fund, one of the nation’s top community finance institutions. Now with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a regional economic development fund, she’s charged with deploying $15 million into Philly startups tackling education, health, other social and environmental challenges.
Ben Franklin’s investment vehicle is ImpactPHL Ventures, formed in 2017 as a one-stop early-stage capital shop the region’s early-stage ‘impact’ startups. Seven local universities, health insurers and pension funds have committed capital.
ImpactAlpha caught up with Bradley to find out why she thinks investors are overlooking Philadelphia startups, and how ImpactPHL Ventures is trying to change that.
Bradley: It’s a capital consortium that we created here (at Ben Franklin) and we’re coordinating the investments. We saw how many of our portfolio companies already are companies that in another context you would call impact companies. It’s about bringing more capital to companies that are tackling social problems and bringing more attention to what we’re doing in Philadelphia to attract other capital to these opportunities.
We’ve developed co-investment partnerships with other investors in which they buy into our professional team and dealflow process and we focus with them on investments that are particular to their interests. ImpactPHL Ventures went to our existing partners and said, “Do you have interest in pursuing this with us?” Many of them did.
ImpactAlpha: What types of impact companies are putting Philadelphia on the map?
Bradley: First it’s about investing in strong companies. Next is how we are able to attract capital from elsewhere to Philadelphia. There are a lot of people who don’t know what opportunities are here.
Roar for Good is a great example. Their mission is about women’s safety with the press of a button. It’s a safety wearable. They work very closely here in our region with an organization called Women Against Abuse. The social mission of a company like that is so intertwined with the product itself. EnviroKure is repurposing chicken waste into organic liquid fertilizer and growing well. It’s the kind of company that you look to as a model.
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