Innovation Works launches $4M fund focused on socially driven ventures

Innovation Works launches $4M fund focused on socially driven ventures

Innovation Works, a Baltimore organization focused on supporting socially focused entrepreneurs through programming, mentorship and funding, has launched a new $4 million fund. The fund, called Ignite Capital, will offer loans and grants to local ventures aiming to address social problems facing Baltimore's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Ignite Capital plans to write checks to up to 12 businesses per year for five years with this initial fund.

A. Jay Nwachu, CEO of Innovation Works, will serve as president of Ignite Capital. The fund will have one full-time employee, Fund Coordinator Gregory Hunter, and an investment committee including Patti Chandler, vice president of finance and administration at Baltimore Community Foundation; Chris Grant, investment manager for Blueprint Local; Ken Malone, principal at Early Charm Ventures; Bree Jones, founder of Parity LLC; Dan Rizzo, former Chief Innovation Officer at Inovalon; and Nwachu.

Ignite Capital has already raised more than $2 million toward the initial fund, Nwachu said. The money comes from various individual investors, as well as two faith-based charity organizations. He said the fund will distribute some grants to pre-revenue enterprises, but will primarily focus on giving loans with low-interest rates, so that social entrepreneurs have access to the support they need to grow their businesses without the burden of extreme debt. Ignite Capital plans to write checks worth between $10,000 and $75,000 each.

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Source: Baltimore Business Journal


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