Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Walla Walla venture capitalists invest in nonprofits, creating another form of rural philanthropy

Wikipedia map: Walla Walla County
A growing venture-capital firm is turning investments into philanthropy in the Washington's rural areas, Sheila Hagar reports for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. The business, Intermountain Impact Investments, "puts its money into enterprises that strengthen and sustain rural communities, in a strategy known as impact investing. Soon tangible signs of that philosophy will be on the roads, in physical therapy settings and on the dinner tables of residents in Eastern Washington."

Co-founder Lawson Knight "said investing works much like a mutual fund does," Hagar writes. "His office builds a portfolio of low-risk transactions grouped into a fund. Those who invest in a fund do so with the expectation of return, socially and financially, he added. Via its recently established rural asset replacement fund, Intermountain takes the money and creates equipment loans at lower rates, typically 4 to 6 percent. Nonprofit groups who need to make large-ticket equipment replacements can take out those loans, he said. As the nonprofits repay their loans, the money returns to the revolving fund that can help another nonprofit."

"Through Intermountain’s newly established rural asset fund, service-centered nonprofits can replace aging equipment or buy new medical devices," Hagar writes. "Items might include multi-passenger vans for transporting clients, refrigerated trucks to haul food donations, supplies to create safe housing for people with mental illness and pool equipment for rehabilitation needs. Often, agencies must address old or missing equipment through fundraising, loans or charge cards." Knight said "Intermountain expects to invest up to $2.5 million in its first rural asset fund venture." The organization currently has about about 10 percent of that money. (Read more)

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