New Impact Investments to Build Wealth for Workers and Entrepreneurs from Immigrant and BIPOC Communities

Wednesday December 15, 2021

The World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund today announced two new impact investments totaling US$900,000 aimed at supporting economic mobility and expanding shared ownership models among workers and entrepreneurs from historically excluded communities. These impact investments, in Apis & Heritage Capital Partners and ETF@JFFLabs, align with the Fund’s mission of building a more inclusive economy for immigrants, refugees, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

“As an impact investor, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund seeks to catalyze and scale efforts to address capital access, opportunity, and outcomes gaps in order to drive sustained and meaningful impact in people’s lives. We’re proud to partner with Apis & Heritage Capital Partners and ETF@JFFLabs to build generational wealth for workers and entrepreneurs of color, including immigrants,” said Smitha Das, impact investing principal at the WES Mariam Assefa Fund. “The Fund is focused on investing in proximate leaders, and we are excited that both funds are led by emerging fund managers with meaningful lived and learned experience.” 

The first investment, $400,000, goes to Apis & Heritage Capital Partners’ Legacy Fund I, a BIPOC-led private equity fund that buys small businesses employing majority workforces of color and transitions the companies to 100 percent employee-owned businesses. Through this approach, A&H seeks to close racial wealth gaps and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Today, 60 percent of Black and 75 percent of Latino workers have $0 in assets upon retirement. A&H expects to impact more than 500 workers, who will have, on average, $70,000 to $120,000 in wealth upon retirement. A&H supports worker power by installing democratic governance practices in its companies to ensure that employee-owners can have input in the operations of the businesses they own.   

“Our team at A&H is very excited to have WES as an aligned investor in Legacy Fund I, which is missioned with driving capital towards closing the racial wealth gap,” said Todd Leverette, founding partner at A&H. “At this pivotal time in our country’s history, providing wealth-building opportunities for essential workers is not only timely, but absolutely necessary. As we move toward a final close of the fund and making our first investments, we look forward to working with partners like WES to fulfill our shared missions.” 

The $500,000 second investment supports ETF@JFFLabs, JFF’s impact fund which partners with diverse entrepreneurs who design early-stage, innovative tech-based solutions that help adults find, secure, and prepare for careers that lead to higher-paying careers. ETF is investing in a more inclusive future of work where technology increases access to learning, employment, and economic mobility for all adults. ETF is dedicated to supporting founders who are members of demographic groups that have historically lacked access to capital.  

“It’s clear that immigrant workers are and will continue holding up the U.S. economy, particularly in this time of recovery,” said Yigal Kerszenbaum, founder and managing director of ETF@JFFLabs. “As an immigrant myself, I am especially energized by the opportunity to partner with WES to strengthen ETF@JFFLabs’ support of entrepreneurs and deepen their impact by leveraging our expertise, infrastructure, and scale.”  

“The WES Mariam Assefa Fund invests in leaders and organizations whose work is helping to ensure that immigrants, refugees, and BIPOC can achieve their goals and thrive,” said Monica Munn, managing director of philanthropy at WES. “We are proud to partner with A&H and ETF@JFFLabs, as these mission-aligned funds complement the work our grantee and investee partners are already doing to create more equitable economies.” 

Learn more about the WES Mariam Assefa Fund’s impact investing approach.

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