Social Impact Venture Capital will play a transformative role in the future of our society to solve the most challenging social and environmental issues. Traditionally, the field of impact investment has not been the hot spot in venture capital, but that is not the case anymore. In 2020, the global impact investing market reached roughly US$715 billion in assets under management, according to Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Using the power of money to accomplish social good is the trend of the moment, and Impact investment is capturing the growing attention of mainstream investors.

The GIIN defines impact investments as investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. In general, impact investing funds can invest in different asset classes. In this article, we focus on social impact venture capital firms making impact investments in private markets, particularly investing in companies tackling big health and social problems.

How we define a Social Impact Venture Capital?

In our list, Social Impact Venture Capital Funds have been selected through a set of criteria based on the self-reported mission statement of the investor. These include:

  • The investor having a dedicated fund with the intention to generate a social impact alongside with a financial return.
  • The investor having a particular focus on women or underrepresented founders.
  • The investor having a specific focus on startups that tackle big social and health problems.

Find the Right Investor

We hope our list will help you identify potential investors to fund your startup. However, it is also important to research the right investors for your business and tailor your pitch to them. Various social impact Venture Capital firms focus on different geographic locations, industries, and startup stages. So, before pitches, you need to research their investment strategy first to learn more about the investor. Furthermore, you can also use specific selection criteria to qualify the investor’s interests. These include:

  • Target investment Stages, such as Seed, Pre-Series A or Series A.
  • Target and Active Markets – Global or having a specific region focus
  • Target Investment Size
  • Target Sectors

Top 10 VC Firms in Europe

Investor HQ Fund Size #Portfoio
Lightrock United Kingdom

$900M

60
Ascension Ventures

United Kingdom

$800M

93

IMPACT Partners

France

$402M

182

eCAPITAL

Germany

$331M

55

London Impact Ventures

United Kingdom

$300M

12

Inven Capital

Czech Republic

$284M

13

Supernova Invest

France

$238M

70

Munich Venture Partners

Germany

$216M 15

Bamboo Capital Partners

Luxemburg

$209M

34

VNT Management

Finland

$186M

12

Lightrock

Lightrock is a global private equity and venture capital firm headquartered in London, backing purpose-driven entrepreneurs tackling the world’s biggest environmental and societal challenges. Their portfolio currently encompasses more than 60 high-growth companies across Europe, Latin America, India and Subsaharan Africa and demonstrably contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. It invests in companies that pursue scalable and technology driven business models around the key impact themes, specific sectors including education, healthcare, access to finance, mobility, transportation, renewables and circular economy transition.

In July 2021, the company closed its Lightrock Growth Fund I at US$ 900 million, with investments from LGT and its private clients. The Growth Fund I invests growth capital into businesses predominantly at series B or C in the target regions and in its key impact themes. Furthermore, the fund has already invested into 26 companies, including five unicorns, across these regions and themes. The portfolio includes German sustainable aviation company Lilium;; Creditas, a leading fintech company in Latin America; and PharmEasy, the largest e-pharmacy company in India.

Ascension Ventures

Ascension is an early-stage VC based in London and built by entrepreneurs to back the next generation of tech and impact founders in sectors such as FinTech, Healthcare and Sustainability. Since 2014, Ascension has established itself as one of the leading UK Seed investors, participating in some of the most exciting UK deals alongside high calibre angels and VCs.

The fund is run by business operators, fundamental when deciding which early-stage businesses to back, and then providing the support necessary to scale. Ascension Ventures backs exceptional entrepreneurs with big visions – providing capital, their network, and expert mentors to grow scalable technology businesses. The portfolio includes pioneering healthcare firms such as VineHealth, which combines behavioral science and AI to solve various issues in healthcare, Alva and Pangea, which are leaders in their own niche markets.

IMPACT Partners

IMPACT Partners is a firm based in France which manages various investment funds whose main goal is social impact. The firm also promotes an inclusive economy by supporting great entrepreneurs all over Europe. With more than 150 portfolio companies and €300 million under management, the firm proves that they can achieve both social and financial performances. With funds such as the SOCIAL / FUND IMPACT GROWTH, with their fourth fund established in 2020, they strive for an innovative and responsible capitalism whose lingua franca would be the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  It is the common language under construction for our ecosystem.

eCAPITAL

Founded in 1999, eCAPITAL is an impact venture capital firm based in Germany that provides early to growth stage funding to technology companies in the fields of software & information technology, cybersecurity, industry 4.0, new materials and cleantech. The firm has a history of leveraging relationships and supporting entrepreneurs determined to build companies with lasting significance. Partnering with them means joining a unique network of entrepreneurs, business leaders, operators, investors and scientists. With funds such as eCAPITAL IV and over 55 portfolio companies, they aim to generate lasting social and environmental impact through technological breakthrough while also generating a financial return.

London Impact Ventures

London Impact Ventures is an all-stage venture capital firm based in the United Kingdom that works with companies and innovators at every stage of maturity and strives to be part of their journey to achieve their full potential and mission in driving change and disruption within their respective industries. Since inception, they have helped fund over $300M in some of the world’s most sustainable and impactful technologies. They are also in the process of closing their latest fund, London Impact Growth Fund, where they are raising over $200M, with a view to deploy and allocate capital within the next 12 months.

The fund makes direct investments in sectors including logistics, e-mobility, fin-tech, consumer products and life sciences. With a deep-rooted focus on alternative proteins and plant-based food-tech, they offer their investors and LPs unparalleled primary access to some of the world’s most sought-after technology companies. Their portfolio includes firms such as Revolut, which is a pioneering company in financial services, and AirBnb, which is disrupting the hotel industry.

Inven Capital

Inven Capital is a venture capital fund established to invest in the European new energy sector. It is backed by a major European energy utility ČEZ, a.s. and by the European Investment Bank (EIB), having EUR 240m at its disposal. The firm seeks investments into innovative cleantech/smart energy growth stage startups. They are interested in areas such as energy efficiency, distributed generation, flexibility and storage, energy, IoT and clean transportation. The firm targets late-stage growth opportunities with business model proven by sales and with significant growth potential.

They focus on creating long term value through an active support of the companies and their founders. Given their energy background they can provide unique benefits to portfolio companies and co-investors, e.g. through piloting on the customer and asset base or through access to a significant energy trading desk. Their portfolio contains firms such as Vulog, which aims to improve business mobility across the world, and Sunfire, who aims to disrupt the energy sector by offering alternatives to fossil fuels.

Supernova Invest

Supernova Invest is a VC funds management company based in France that is specialized in disruptive technology ventures. It was founded and is owned by the former team of CEA Investissement, CEA (the French agency for nuclear and alternative energies) and Amundi (European leading asset manager). The company emerged from the alliance in 2017 between the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives, CEA) and Amundi (Crédit Agricole Group).

With a total of about 100 investments and more than 70 portfolio companies, Supernova Invest benefits from a unique track record in deep tech, as reflected in its 30 or so successful trade exits and six IPOs. Supernova Invest has focused its efforts on four major areas of expertise: Industry 4.0, healthcare, energy & environment, and digital technologies, supporting the technology leaders of the future.

Munich Venture Partners

Munich Venture Partners (MVP) is the high-tech venture capital specialist based in Munich, and one of Germany’s leading VC funds. As an independent venture fund, MVP concentrates on investments for leading-edge start-up companies with Transformative Technologies, which will fundamentally transform established value chains. The investment focus is in Europe and on a select basis, beyond. Relevant sectors include: IoT, Mobility, Energy, Advanced Materials, AI, and Robotics.

The fund was founded in 2005 and is part funded by the European Union and its Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP). Together with their investees they focus on creating solutions for holistic value creation along the triple top line of economic wealth, environmental prosperity, and social equity. Implementing the Triple Top Line concept, they are committed to actively contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Bamboo Capital Partners

Bamboo Capital Partners is an impact investing platform which provides innovative financing solutions to catalyse lasting impact. Bamboo bridges the gap between seed and growth-stage funding through a full suite of finance options – from debt to equity – which it activates unilaterally or through strategic partnerships. Founded in 2007 by Jean-Philippe de Schrevel, the company aims to generate lasting impact and improve the lives of the world’s most marginalised communities while delivering strong financial returns.

Since 2007, Bamboo has raised over $400m for developing countries, positively impacting over 184 million lives and supporting over 45,000 jobs through its investments in over 30 countries. The firm has a team of 35 professionals active across Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Bamboo is the asset management arm of Palladium, a global impact advisory and management firm with operations in over 90 countries. 

VNT Management

VNT manages three venture capital funds – Power Fund I, Power Fund II and Power Fund that have a focus on clean technology. The commitments to the funds total €157 million. Major investors are the European Investment Fund and Finnish institutions. Their geographical investment focus is Northern and Central Europe, with a main focus being on the Nordics and German-speaking European countries. Founded in 2002, they were among the first venture capital companies in Europe to focus on renewable and distributed power generation and energy-saving technology. They believe in a focused investment strategy in areas where they have long-term experience and the selection of experienced partners with a proven track record.

Top 10 VC Firms in North America

General Catalyst

General Catalyst backs exceptional entrepreneurs who are building innovative technology companies and market leading businesses, including Airbnb, BigCommerce, ClassPass, Datalogixj, Datto, and Warby Parker. The General Catalyst team leverages its broad experience to help founders build extraordinary companies. General Catalyst has offices in Cambridge, MA, Palo Alto, CA and New York City. Through their early-stage practice, they support companies at the Series A and Series B stages that are focused on new themes and industries ripe for change through innovation and digital transformation.

Unreasonable

Unreasonable Capital sits within the Unreasonable Group family, which supports entrepreneurs developing scalable solutions to global challenges through business mentorship programs that include Unreasonable Impact, Unreasonable Goals, and Project Literacy Lab. The Fund’s investments benefit from the access, partners, and knowledge within this network of over 200 partners (e.g. UNICEF, The World Bank, Google, and Nike), 250 mentors (e.g. founder of WordPress, CMO of Unilever, Director of Stanford’s d.school), and 50 partner investment funds (e.g. Acumen, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, 500 Startups).

The fund focuses exclusively in emerging markets: Clean energy, Financial technologies, Innovations in agriculture and artisan-driven fashion. Their portfolio includes Eneza, pioneering education in Africa, and iNuka Pap, a leader of financial services in Africa in an effort of globalisation.

 

The Rise Fund

The Rise Fund is committed to achieving social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. We seek to partner with creative entrepreneurs and build successful businesses that drive meaningful, measurable positive change. The Rise Fund will focus on investments in seven sectors in which independent research has shown that impact is both achievable and measurable in quantitative terms: education, energy, food and agriculture, financial services, healthcare, information and communication technology, and industrials and infrastructure.

Headquartered in San Francisco, The Rise Fund was founded in 2016 by TPG in partnership with Bono and Jeff Skoll and offers deep expertise in business solutions to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. As part of TPG, The Rise Fund offers investment resources, business-building skills and a global network to help our portfolio companies accelerate growth and impact. Their portfolio includes Evercare, an integrated healthcare delivery platform and Pearl Diary, supporting and improving agriculture across Africa.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Established in 2015 by Bill Gates and a coalition of private investors concerned about the impacts of accelerating climate change, Breakthrough Energy supports the innovations that will lead the world to net-zero emissions. They are building on the proven model of public-private partnerships that Gates has already used to transform health, education, and public welfare around the world. The firm is encouraging the development of new net-zero energy technologies, championing policies that speed innovation from lab to market, and bringing together governments, research institutions, private companies, and investors to expand and enhance clean-energy investment.

Energy Impact Partners

Energy Impact Partners (EIP) was founded in 2015 by a team of pioneers in corporate venture capital, successful technology investors, and industry experts. Across EIP’s global family of funds, the company has a team of over 50 professionals with offices in New York, San Francisco, London, Cologne, Boston, and Palm Beach. With over $1.5 billion in assets under management, the fund invests globally across venture, growth, credit, and infrastructure. With a move towards a decarbonized, decentralized, digitized, and highly electrified future, thousands of innovators are transforming and disrupting asset and carbon intensive industries. Focused on these themes, the company  creates a specialist platform approach to investing by partnering with over 30 of the world’s largest, most innovative, and environmentally conscious energy, utility, and industrial firms as strategic investors.

Social Capital

Social Capital aims to advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems. They believe that empowering entrepreneurs who seek to improve the lives of the people around them is the best way to create more opportunity globally. At its core, Social Capital is an organization that identifies hard problems and assembles experts, IP and experiments that allow us to learn about these problems deeply. Once they have conviction about a solution, they will then execute — by building, buying, or investing in whatever it takes to solve the problem we identified.

The fund invests from a balance sheet of permanent capital to fuel entrepreneurship at all stages, all over the world, so that they can partner with entrepreneurs for as long as it takes. They leverage data and machine learning to build great companies and then help them be operationally excellent to drive long term success.

Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund

Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund invests in the most innovative cloud companies and founders globally that are core to the Salesforce ecosystem and have measurable social or environmental impact. The Salesforce Ventures is focused on creating the world’s largest ecosystem of enterprise cloud companies. The Impact Fund builds on this foundation and drives positive change through their investments.

The firm focuses on a few key impact themes such as Education and workforce development, sustainability, Diversity, equity and inclusion and social sector technologies. Examples of portfolio companies that are creating social and environmental impact through technology are Andela, Juntos and Ureeka, while having exited positions in companies such as RaiseMe, Hustle and RoundCorner.

Calvert Impact Capital

Calvert Impact Capital, formerly Calvert Foundation, invests to create a more equitable and sustainable world. Through their products and services, they raise capital from individual and institutional investors to finance intermediaries and funds that are investing in communities left out of traditional capital markets. During their 22-yearhistory, they have mobilized nearly $2 billion of investor capital. Calvert Impact Capital has recently expanded its services to include loan syndications, where they originate and structure loans for institutional and accredited investors seeking environmental and social impact. Since the launch in 2017, they have syndicated more than $130 million of capital across nine transactions.

The Ecosystem Integrity Fund

The Ecosystem Integrity Fund (“EIF”) is an early growth stage investor in companies contributing to environmental sustainability. Their mission is to use private capital to accelerate the transition to sustainability, resulting in a healthier planet, healthier communities, and strong economic growth. EIF seeks to demonstrate that there is no trade-off between having positive impact and achieving outstanding financial returns. Their offer investors an effective, targeted, and profitable way to participate in this transformation.          

DBL Partners

DBL Partners was formed with a “Double Bottom Line” investment strategy to invest in companies that can deliver top-tier venture capital returns (First Bottom Line), while working with their companies to enable social, environmental and economic improvement in the regions in which they operate (Second Bottom Line). DBL Partners uses venture capital to accelerate innovation in a way that positively affects an organization’s social impact, as well as its financial success. They strongly believe these two drivers –positive social change and a healthy financial performance– are inherently connected. The fund invests in and helps nurture outstanding entrepreneurs and companies in Cleantech, Information Technology, Sustainable Products and Services, and Healthcare.

Top 10 VC Firms in Asia

Aavishkaar Capital

Aavishkaar Capital pioneered the venture capital approach of investing in early-growth stage enterprises in India in 2001, with a focus on geographies and sectors that were often overlooked and challenging. Aavishkaar Capital has gone on to close 6 funds since then, with close to half a billion dollars in AUM today. Over the years, the fund’s investment strategy has evolved to include other emergent geographies, in addition to India – Emerging Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and has scaled – larger investment tickets, while maintaining a focus on investing in businesses across the 3 core sectors, including Financial Inclusion, Food & Agriculture, and Essential Services.

The entrepreneurs backed by Aavishkaar Capital will continue to leverage opportunities in ways that help scale up their businesses while continue catering to include expectations of the emerging class, engaging them as consumers and as providers. Their portfolio includes Agrostar and Ergos, both with a mission to help improve agriculture across India.

Sony Innovation Fund

For over 70 years Sony has been relentlessly innovating technology, content, and services. With the creation of Sony Innovation Fund in 2016, they are now investing in companies to journey along with them. Sony Innovation Fund is dedicated to engaging with promising early-stage companies. Beyond investment, their mission is to provide access to the broader Sony world and its global network and collaborate with startups. With over $250M AUM and operating from offices in the US, EU, Israel, Japan, and India, they are a team of experienced professionals taking an active role in helping startups grow and scale by opening doors across their global network.

Through their solid foundation of technology, they are investing in consumer and enterprise-facing startups that are bringing new forms of Entertainment, FinTech, Healthcare, IoT, Mobility, Deep Tech and Sensor Technologies to global markets. They believe companies with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) awareness from their earliest days is key to creating premium long-term value. They recognize the importance of considering ESG issues and have adopted them in their investment process. Their portfolio includes Huma and Ieso Digital Health, aiming to improve healthcare infrastructure for consumers.

Energy & Environment Investment Inc.

Energy & Environment Investment, Inc. was established in 2006 as the only venture capital firm focusing on the environment and energy sectors in Japan. Since their establishment, they have been actively investing and supporting the business growth of start-ups in the environment and energy-related services and technologies sectors. They established EEI Fund 4 Innovation and Impact Investment, their fourth venture fund, in June 2018. They will invest in and support the business growth of excellent start-ups that drive innovations and new business creation in the energy industry as well as actively produce new businesses in constant pursuit of maximizing their overage of attractive market opportunities. During fund management, they will nurture start-ups that contribute to sustainability by incorporating Social Development Goals into their investment criteria.

Heritas Capital

Established since 1997, Heritas Capital started out as the investment arm of the IMC Group. Since 2013, Heritas Capital has a Capital Markets Services fund management licence, with assets under management exceeding $250m. Currently, Heritas Capital manages private equity, venture capital and fund-of-funds investments into healthcare, education, and technology globally. The fund backs innovative companies to become emerging champions and drive inclusive growth that improves the lives of local communities while delivering sustainable returns to investors. They are also a co-investment partner of SPRING SEEDS Capital, under the Startup SG Equity Scheme into leading healthcare startups in Singapore.

Lok Capital

Founded in 2004, Lok Capital is an investment firm based in New Delhi, India. The company seeks to invest in financial inclusion, agriculture, and livelihood, fintech, banking and healthcare sectors. The firm has offices in New Delhi, Chennai and Gurgaon. Lok Capital manages two BoP funds with over $85mn under management.

Caspian Impact Investments

Caspian invests in enterprises that address the problems of access and efficiency in business ecosystems that have a positive social or environmental impact. They seek to utilize their understanding of early-stage enterprises that operate in this sphere and bring their capital and expertise to improving the outreach and viability of their businesses. Caspian is also the first Indian Impact Investing firm to be granted a B Corp certification.

Triple P Capital

Triple P Capital focuses on high-growth businesses that reach emerging consumers in South East Asia, such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.  In addition to delivering superior financial returns, the Firm focuses on promoting financial inclusion. Triple P’s investment team consists of successful financial services entrepreneurs, operators, and investors, who work closely with the firm’s partner businesses to create value. Their portfolio includes Praxis and Contemi, both firms looking to help South East Asians learn financial literacy.

Antler

Founded in Singapore in 2017, Antler is a global early-stage venture capital firm that invests in the defining technology companies of tomorrow. The firm has offices across five continents and most major entrepreneurial hubs, including cities such as London, New York, Singapore, and Sydney.

The fund has already invested in over 300 companies since its launch. Of these companies, 40% have at least one female co-founder, and the founders represent 70 nationalities. Their portfolio includes Abrility, a firm dedicated to developing the soft skills of teenagers, and Elenta, a firm utilising digital technology to make learning and development more effective.

D3jubilee Partners

D3Jubilee, a Seoul and San Francisco-based global impact venture capital that is established in 2011 by a group of angel investors, is uniquely positioned to redefine the role of capital by investing in tech-based companies with entrepreneurial innovation. The fund has successfully invested in a number of starts-ups that provide meaningful solutions to social issues and thereby create high financial success in tandem with socio-environmental values in Korea, USA, South America, Africa, and India.

D3 redefines the role of capital by investing in entrepreneurial innovation that improves the lives of low-income families, women, and immigrants, and creates an environmentally sustainable world. They have invested in about 60 companies all over the world.

Lotus Impact

Lotus Impact targets early-stage enterprises across Southeast Asia. They provide venture building services and impact capital to dedicated entrepreneurs seeking to transform value chains, innovate social solutions and develop new business models that reflect their core values of inclusion, innovation, and impact. Lotus Impact works closely with entrepreneurs and seed stage social enterprises to provide seed round investment and/or incubation support. Support areas range from business plan creation, developing reliable financial projections, designing, and prototyping products or services and going to market and fundraising.