One of America’s largest global banks, Citi, has announced the latest round of investments being made as part of its dedicated $200 million Impact Fund. Seven new companies have been added to the portfolio in the latest funding round. The new investments are focused on companies that are women-owned, black-owned or veteran-owned businesses as the bank seeks to help transform the banking industry.
Established in 2020, the fund invests using the bank’s own capital. It is the largest self-funded social purpose strategy of any US banking group. Financial management solution Clerkie, sustainable water group Ketos, medical transport service MedHaul, credit building app Perch, military careers service Shift, robotics group Superpedestrian and antimicrobial cleaning group Vyv all qualified for funding during this round. Ed Skyler, head of global public affairs at Citi, said that the new investments take the portfolio companies to 11, chosen for their ability to make cities and communities more equitable and sustainable. “The economic and social challenges of the Covid-19 crisis have increased the urgency for new ways of working, and we’re focused on building on these investments to identify new partners this year,” he said.
To be eligible for the fund, company executives need to show that the business has demonstrated proof of concept and built an existing customer base with the potential for scale across multiple markets. Companies qualify for consideration if they can show that they are tackling five societal challenges: improving access to careers, improving financial literacy or access to financial products, improving way of life, addressing sustainability issues, or addressing disparities between elements of society.
Erica Plybeah, founder and chief executive of MedHaul – one of this year’s investee companies – said the investment was game-changing for her business. “The Citi Impact Fund is broadening access to capital for founders like me,” she said. “MedHaul is the first company receiving earlier-stage seed investment from the fund, and we’re extremely excited to partner with Citi.” Large banks had been criticized in 2020 during the pandemic for focusing on larger businesses and not on those that need funding. Initiatives like this have been made in part in order to offset potentially bad publicity.