Photo: Redemption Bank founders, Dr. Bernice A. King and Ashley Bell
All Five Enterprises Are Innovators in the Impact Ecosystem with Strong Tailwinds to Drive Environmental and Societal Impact and Systems Change
Salt Lake City, UT — January 29, 2024 — Sorenson Impact Foundation (Foundation), a leading and 100% mission-aligned institution dedicated to investing in innovative social entrepreneurs to solve the world’s most pressing issues, announced today that it has added five new enterprises to its Program Related Investment (PRI) portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2023. Through its PRI portfolio, the Foundation invests in early-stage companies and funds that have developed scalable, innovative, and potentially disruptive solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, including access to quality healthcare and education, financial inclusion, workforce development, sanitation, water, and clean energy.
Established in 2012, the Foundation has developed a 100% mission-related investment strategy generating both scalable impact and financial returns to show the greater financial services market that the two are not mutually exclusive. A key part of the overall strategy is the Foundation’s substantial commitment to program related investments in early-stage impact-focused companies or other high-risk impact-focused investments that traditional commercial investors would not make. Including these five investments, the Foundation made seven program related investments in 2023 totaling $2.75M. The Foundation has 61 active investments in companies headquartered in 14 countries and across five continents.
All Foundation program related investments deploy catalytic capital to create and improve systems that reduce inequality and increase access to opportunity for historically marginalized communities worldwide. Through 2023, the Foundation’s PRI portfolio companies have positively impacted the lives of over 775 million people around the world by increasing access to necessities needed to survive and thrive, including healthcare, education, clean water, jobs, and safety. Without affecting the overall investment portfolio’s continuing production of market and above market-rate returns, the programrelated investment portfolio has helped create over 174,000 jobs, support an additional 285,000 jobs, reach 490 million low-income students, preserve over 216,000 affordable housing units, and unlock over five billion in capital for underserved founders and fund managers.
Sorenson Impact Foundation’s Fourth Quarter 2023 Portfolio Updates:
All five of the investments announced today are companies and funds led by innovators in the impact ecosystem with strong tailwinds to advance environmental and societal impact and drive systems change:
- Participant Assistive Products is a seed stage social enterprise that makes affordable assistive products like Cub, a world-class wheelchair for children with Cerebral Palsy. As the first medical device B-Corp, Participant offers a market-based answer to the World Health Organization’s call for affordable solutions, and their mission to increase the social and economic participation of people with disabilities by offering high-quality and affordable assistive products is close to the hearts of those within the Sorenson Impact ecosystem which has a longstanding commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities. Sorenson Impact Foundation has committed $250K into Participant’s pre-seed round to support Participant Assistive Products to research and develop new products and power accessories, as well as penetrate the market with their existing Cub product.
- Kiip is an impact-driven company dedicated to revolutionizing the social services industry. Vital social benefits are available at the federal, state, and local levels for unhoused, low-income, and disadvantaged individuals. Unfortunately, the administrative burden imposed on individuals trying to obtain these benefits creates a substantial barrier to access and continuity of coverage, stripping individuals of their ability to stabilize and advance their lives. Sorenson Impact Foundation has committed a $250K investment into Kiip’s bridge financing round and is supporting Kiip as they work to increase uptake in social services as well as efficiency of the provision of services and wellbeing of beneficiaries.
- Totem is a pioneering Native-led fintech startup dedicated to transforming banking infrastructure for Indigenous communities. The company collaborates closely with Tribal governments and enterprises, offering a neo-banking platform that streamlines benefit disbursements and payroll management. Moreover, Totem extends essential banking services to individual users, ensuring secure and accessible financial solutions to boost economic empowerment within Native communities. Sorenson Impact Foundation has committed $250K into Totem’s pre-seed round, and this partnership marks a step forward in the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to empower underserved communities, particularly Indigenous populations, by addressing financial disparities and fostering economic opportunity and access to banking services.
- Redemption Bank is an impact bank that has made history as the first Black acquisition of a previously white-owned bank in the United States. With a brick-and-mortar location in Holladay, UT, Redemption Bank plans to offer in-house lending services to small businesses, startups, and micro businesses within Utah. Redemption recognizes the historical challenges Black-owned banks have faced, often deeply intertwined with the economic health of the communities they serve. It is the brainchild of the visionary daughter of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Dr. Bernice A. King, and seasoned fintech founder Ashley Bell. Sorenson Impact Foundation has committed $1M to support Redemption Bank’s mission to address the stark racial wealth gap, ensuring that capitalism benefits everyone, especially those historically excluded from financial services.
- NESsT Lirio Fund is a groundbreaking debt fund targeting the “missing middle” in the Andes-Amazon region of Latin America. NESsT Lirio Fund provides working capital to entities that are often considered “too small” for traditional financing vehicles and yet too large for microfinance. This innovative fund provides vital loans to empower largely agricultural enterprises, enabling them to scale their operations sustainably. Sorenson Impact Foundation has committed $500K to the fund. This partnership represents Sorenson Impact Foundation’s commitment to fostering further impact investing field-building in emerging markets, particularly in Latin America, by supporting access to capital for enterprises that have often been overlooked and investing in communities, livelihoods, and environmental stewardship throughout the region.
“Coming out of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we were deliberate in shifting our PRI strategy towards investment into frontier and emerging markets that experienced unprecedented capital flight,” said Savannah Johnson, Investment Director at the Foundation who oversees Sorenson Impact Foundation’s PRI portfolio. “These five exceptional enterprises represent our commitment to empowering last mile communities with the medical devices, utilities, banking services, and access to financing needed to survive and thrive. They are stewards of our mission on the ground, and we are delighted to partner with them to continue growing and scaling their reach and impact.”
About Sorenson Impact Foundation
Established in 2012, Sorenson Impact Foundation invests in innovative social entrepreneurs solving the world’s most pressing issues. We are proud to be one of the country’s few foundations that have 100% mission-aligned investment portfolios, and we seek to be a model for other institutions on how to use the tools of the capital markets to construct overall investment portfolios that achieve exceptional impact outcomes as well as compelling financial returns. Through our program related investment portfolio, we invest in companies that have developed scalable, innovative, and potentially disruptive solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, including access to quality healthcare and education, financial inclusion, workforce development, sanitation, water, clean energy, and more. We deploy catalytic capital through investments to ensure early-stage impact companies are best positioned to scale their reach and impact. With more than 61 active portfolio companies in 14 countries and across five continents, the Foundation is committed to investing in long-lasting systemic change around the globe. For more information, please visit https://sorensonimpactfoundation.org/