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Zinc dusts off €33 million fund to back 500 entrepreneurs to address pressing social issues

There has been a significant rise in ‘impact investing’ as a larger number of investors are looking to align their values ​​with where they’re putting their money. And London seems to have taken center stage when it comes to impact investors.

Recently, Elbow Beach Capital launched a venture vehicle with an initial £20 million to fund sustainable energy technologies and infrastructure which reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Future Planet Capital wrapped up a €20 million fund to tackle key issues affecting the world’s oceans.

And now, London-based social enterprise builder and early-stage investor Zinc has announced the first close of its of £33 million fund at £28 million. The fund will invest in mission-driven to build new ventures addressing entrepreneurs the most pressing social issues.

Dubbed the Zinc 2 Fund, it will support 500 diverse entrepreneurs to create brand new ventures from scratch and invest in 100 of the ventures they create. The fund will be invested in businesses in four segments: improving mental health, protecting natural environment, improving the quality of later life, and helping people impacted by automation and globalisation.

According to the company, the individuals selected will build a new business and join a cohort of up to 70 people who all share the same mission and access a 12-month program of support and investment. Zinc will invest up to €294,000 in each of the companies created.

Founded in 2017 by Ella Goldner, Paul Kirby and Saul Klein, the impact investor has backed over 220 diverse founders who have built more than 60 ventures across the four missions such as Vira Health (menopause support), Tandem (transportation for workers in small cities and towns), Pexxi (personalised contraception pills), Bellevie (better jobs in homecare), Untangle (grief support), Beanbag (support for eating disorders), and more.

The founders the company backed in its most recent venture builder program are 50% women, 15% Black, with an average age of 38. The fund has been corner stoned by the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme, which supports new and emerging VC fund managers who target the early-stage equity gap. Other investors in the fund include Big Society Capital, Molten Ventures, Isomer, Dunhill Medical Trust, Atomico, Anthemis Group, family offices, and some of Europe’s most successful tech entrepreneurs and early stage investors such as Taavet Hinrikus from Taaven+Sten, Illka ​​Paannan , Sarah Wood and others.

Ella Goldner, co-founder of Zinc, said: “Rather than waiting for good companies to emerge, Zinc helps individuals (before they have a business idea or a team) to build from scratch a new commercially-ambitious company to solve the social challenge that they are most passionate about. Typically, those individuals are 10 to 20 years into their career, but are frustrated that they are not having the social impact they want.”

Paul Kirby, co-founder of Zinc, added: “Our missions are a call to arms: ‘Who wants to quit their jobs and spend the next decade or more solving this problem?’ The mission-led approach has attracted brilliant entrepreneurs and fantastic experts and partner organizations who are passionate about the mission and want to help the entrepreneurs succeed. Each of our programs has 100 Visiting Fellows and an extensive network of partners.”

The Zinc 2 Fund will back seven of Zinc’s venture builder programs and invest in 100 of the businesses that are created. The first program is focused on the mental health of children and young people. The next program will start in October 2022, with 70 founders all focused on B2B solutions to help transform the industries that have the most impact on our environmental crisis.

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