The WES Mariam Assefa Fund believes that impact investing can play a critical role in catalyzing and scaling solutions that build more inclusive economies on behalf of immigrants and refugees. The Fund’s investee partners are mission-driven leaders and organizations whose work is helping to ensure that immigrants and refugees in the United States and Canada can thrive. As a global social enterprise, WES brings firsthand knowledge of how to grow an impact-oriented, self-sustaining organization. As a funder, we connect our portfolio of over 30 investee and grantee partners with outside experts who can help our partners deepen their impact.

Why impact investing?

Impact investing can provide mission-driven organizations with flexible funding to innovate in the face of changing workforce and educational systems, unlock other investment capital, and scale up proven approaches in support of immigrant and refugee workers. For-profit and revenue-generating models can ensure sustained impact on people’s lives and complement the essential role of non-profit organizations.

Investing in organizations and funds led by immigrants, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), women, and other underrepresented communities can also ignite wider, more systemic change. Philanthropic and traditional investors have historically overlooked these leaders and communities, which face significant barriers to capital. To build a more equitable and just economy, we must address this capital gap.

What impact investments are we looking to make?

Impact comes first. At the end of the day, we are guided by our North Star of supporting leaders who are committed to partnering with immigrants and refugees and to establishing a more inclusive economy. There is no single silver bullet to economic mobility. We are excited to meet innovators and entrepreneurs who are reimagining learning, career pathways, hiring and recruiting, financial services, childcare, wealth-building, and the many other tools and resources immigrant and refugee workers need to thrive in a new country.

We believe lived experience makes for better ideas. We invest in social enterprises, funds, and non-profits helmed by proximate leaders who have direct knowledge of immigrant and refugee communities and the challenges they face. We believe that deeper impact can be achieved by backing organizations and leaders who bring a diversity of lived and professional experience to their work. We also look to support worker-centered initiatives.

We want our capital to be catalytic, and we take risks alongside our partners. We support earlier stage organizations and concepts—particularly those raising seed, seed plus, bridge, and/or Series A funding. We seek to ensure that mission-driven organizations have the flexible capital they need to demonstrate the viability of a new initiative, avail themselves of unexpected opportunities, invest in their people and operations, or flourish even amid adverse conditions. Our investments typically range from $100,000 to $500,000 and can take many forms, such as grants, borrower-friendly loans, patient equity, and loan guarantees. We tailor our approach so that potential investees can access the right kind of capital and terms to achieve their goals.

If you’d like to learn more, please email [email protected] with some background information and let us know what you are seeking.

Explore and learn more about the Fund’s investee partners below.

RIN-CEO Social Impact Fund

Category: Skills and Supports; Growing an Ecosystem of Collaborators

Amount: USD$250,000 invested in November 2020

Through the Social Impact Fund, IRC-CEO is expanding financial access, an essential aspect of economic integration and advancement, to immigrants and refugees.

Cell-Ed

Category: Skills and Supports; Experimentation and Innovation

Amount: USD$500,000 invested in November 2020

Cell-Ed, an early-stage mobile-first education technology company, is growing their work to build skills in adult learners, especially immigrants, so they can advance in the workplace and continue their education.