Singapore banking group DBS and private equity and venture capital investment firm Heritas Capital have announced the first close of the Asia Impact First Fund (AIFF).
The fund has now raised over US$20 million, led by anchor investor DBS, which committed US$10 million, and like-minded impact-focused family offices, foundations, corporates and high-net-worth individuals. Investors include Tsao Family Office, IMC Group, Ishk Tolaram Foundation, ANF Family Office, Octava Foundation chairman Pang Sze Khai, and others.
The AIFF aims to raise US$50 million and expects to provide catalytic growth capital to 10 to 15 social enterprises in Asia. Heritas Capital launched the fund last August with an investment mandate to support innovative and high-growth social enterprises in the region.
These social enterprises must have clearly demonstrated social and/or environmental impact under the fund’s themes – “Improving lives and livelihoods” and “Protecting the environment” – as well as viable business growth plans to scale their double bottom-line of impact and profitability.
“As a purpose-driven organization, we are guided by our commitment to help pave the way towards a better world for generations today and tomorrow. Businesses for impact, which pursue a dual bottom-line of profit and impact and are addressing key societal gaps from a systemic level, play an increasingly important role in this,” says Karen Ngui, managing director and head of DBS strategic marketing and communications. She is also a board member of DBS Foundation.
With more of DBS Private Bank’s clients expressing interest in being a force for good in society and a willingness to engage in venture philanthropy, the bank also sees the AIFF as a means through which they can contribute impact capital and take an active role in shaping the direction of their giving.
“Through AIFF, clients can have peace of mind that their money is going towards a carefully curated and stringent selection of social enterprises that will make the best of it to drive real impact, for the betterment of society,” says Lee Woon Shiu, group head of wealth planning, family office and insurance solutions at DBS Private Bank and a DBS Foundation board member.
While working with social enterprises in Asia over the years, DBS Foundation found that the lack of financing options often hindered their growth. The AIFF was therefore conceived to enable others to participate in plugging the funding gap for social enterprises.