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SBA licenses first nationwide Impact Investment Fund

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) licensed the first nationally-focused Impact Investment Fund, SJF Ventures III, LP. The fund will make equity investments in cleantech and technology companies in communities nationwide as part of an impact investment initiative to invest up to $1.5 billion in high-growth small businesses.

SJF Ventures invests growth equity in companies with strong financial, community and environmental results. SJF’s areas of focus include: efficiency and infrastructure; reuse and recycling; sustainable agriculture and food safety; and technology enhanced services. The third fund managed by SJF Ventures will build upon a successful track record of returns and impacts across 34 SJF portfolio companies from its first two funds. Citi Community Capital (Citi), the community development lending and investing group of Citi, is the lead investor in SJF Ventures III, LP, an unleveraged Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) fund. The fund is committing up to $75 million of investment capital over the next five years.

The impact investment initiative is part of Startup America, a White House initiative to bring together public and private organizations to accelerate the growth of America’s entrepreneurs. The initiative uses the infrastructure of the SBA’s SBIC program, an established and successful program that operates at no cost to taxpayers. The SBIC program began in 1958 to supplement the flow of private equity capital and long-term loan funds to small businesses. In FY 2011, the SBIC program provided $2.8 billion of financing to 1,339 U.S. small businesses.

The announcement follows on a July, 2011 SBA licensing of InvestMichigan! Mezzanine Fund whose investment targets a state or region, primarily Michigan, in SBA’s new impact investment initiative.

The impact investment initiative will drive up to $1.5 billion into the hands of small businesses over the next five years. It provides funding for high-growth companies that will generate not only a financial but also a “social” return by focusing on businesses located in underserved communities or communities facing barriers to capital.

Through the initiative SBA will commit $1 billion to investment funds focused on investing in underserved markets or in sectors that have been defined as national priorities. Impact investments can be:

• Place-based, targeting small businesses located in or employing residents of low or moderate income areas or economically distressed areas; or

• Sector-based, targeting industry sectors that the Administration has identified as national priorities. Currently only clean energy and education have been identified as priority sectors.

To serve these markets SBA will collaborate with private, institutional investors to identify impact investments and provide expedited licensing and capital to fund managers who qualify to organize and operate an Impact Investment SBIC. SBA will provide up to a 2:1 match to private capital raised by these funds, partnering with private investors to target “impact” investments.

High-growth firms are a small part of the small business community, but they create a large number of net new jobs each year. The initiative will help high-growth companies receive the funding they need to continue to expand and create jobs in America’s underserved communities and priority sectors.

For more information on the impact investment initiative please visit

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