Washington, D.C. |June 23, 2021 – Apis & Heritage Capital Partners (A&H) announced its First Close at $30 million for its flagship Legacy Fund I, which is designed to help close the country’s racial wealth gap by transitioning businesses with large workforces of color into 100% employee-owned enterprises.
The fund surpassed its $15 million first close target, with support from leading investors and advisors including the Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Zero Gap Fund, The Skoll Foundation and its advisor Capricorn Investments, Gary Community Investments, Ascension Investment Management, and others.
A&H is a BIPOC-led private equity fund that has developed an “employee-led buyout” (ELBO) model that gives retiring owners a fair market price for their businesses, often with significant tax advantages, as employees become the employee/owners of the business with A&H’s assistance. In today’s America, 60% of Black and 65% of LatinX workers have $0 in retirement assets making workers vulnerable to financial insecurity as they age and without resources to pass on to the next generation. A&H expects an average worker who benefits from an A&H-assisted buyout to accrue retirement savings of $70,000 – $120,000 each, which can be life changing.
A&H’s Legacy Fund I intends to buy at least eight closely held companies from retiring founders, converting at least 500 workers over the next five years into employee/owners. A&H will focus on companies mainly in waste hauling, landscaping, elder care, commercial cleaning, food processing, and other essential service sectors in America.
“We are looking to make life-changing investments with this first fund to address the significant and growing wealth gap in this country, especially for Black and brown workers,” said Todd Leverette, Co-founding Principal at A&H. “Making this announcement so close to Juneteenth feels like the right time for us to make this announcement, since A&H is providing a path to financial freedom for workforces of color across the United States.”
A&H was conceived by Leverette in collaboration with colleagues at the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI). DAWI is a national organization dedicated to innovation, equity and scale for worker-owned businesses, and will provide technical assistance to A&H portfolio companies. With a planning grant from Citi Community Development, critical launch funding from the Kendeda Foundation, and additional support from the Kellogg Foundation, DAWI made space and resources available to Leverette and co-founder Philip Reeves to incubate A&H. Co-founder Michael Brownrigg joined soon afterward to help move the concept from one-off deal making into a scalable private equity fund. Jason Ollison and Natalie Edwards rounded out the partnership in 2021. The firm hired its first Associate, Kyle Chin-How, shortly thereafter.
“There are two traditional paths to build wealth in America – you can own your home, or you can own your business,” said Philip Reeves, Co-Founder at A&H. “A&H is focused on the latter, especially for workforces of color, which have been shut out of equity ownership for so long.”
A&H will also announce a Legacy Fund I strategic partnership with LISC’s New Markets Support Company (NMSC), which will become the nationwide partner for the ELBO senior debt tranche. LISC and A&H are mission- and values-aligned to drive resources into enterprises and communities of color that have been denied growth finance over the years.
“NMSC is proud to partner on this transformational new fund to address the racial wealth gap,” said Kevin Boes, President and CEO of NMSC. “By helping vital, community-based small businesses transition from one founder to many owners, A&H will safeguard the health of these businesses and the futures of their workforces of color.”
A&H’s flagship fund easily surpassed its First Close target due to substantial interest from some of the nation’s leading foundations and impact investors.
“The A&H team has taken an innovative approach at addressing the racial wealth gap and building a more inclusive economy,” said Maria Kozloski, Senior Vice President of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Their novel ELBO model solves for many pain points of prior ESOP strategies while layering in a racial equity lens. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to be a part of these efforts, providing investors with an offering that can deliver clear impact and competitive returns with great potential for scale.”
The firm and its leadership were selected by Impact Assets as a 2021 IA 50 Emerging Impact Manager and were invited to join VC Include’s inaugural Fellowship Cohort for BIPOC Emerging VC and Impact Fund Managers. Todd is a frequent speaker on the power and promise of ESOPs and has recently become a Board Member of the National Center on Employee Ownership.
“We are grateful for the support and confidence that our first close LPs have shown us,” said Natalie Edwards, Managing Director and General Counsel for A&H. “A&H is now well-positioned to buy great companies and share the rewards with the people who have really earned them – the workers. Especially workers of color.”
About Apis & Heritage Capital Partners
A&H Capital is a mezzanine debt private equity fund that buys closely-held businesses with significant workforces of color from founders who want a return on their life’s work and who also care about their legacy. A&H then converts those companies into 100% employee-owned businesses. Enterprises that are 100% employee-owned pay zero federal taxes and, in 44 out of 50 states, zero state taxes. A&H provides support and training to the companies to create an engaged and empowered workforce and enlightened management team. Data is clear that when employees feel engaged, then productivity and profitability increase, staff turnover decreases, and overall, the firms outperform their peers. A&H seeks companies with at least $1 million in EBITDA and with 40 employees or more, where at least one-third of the workforce are people of color. A&H focuses on essential service sectors such as landscaping, plumbing, food processing, commercial cleaning, healthcare, and transportation, and its geographic scope is nationwide.
In addition to the investors listed above, A&H’s first close Limited Partners include clients advised by Veris Wealth Partners, clients advised by Tiedemann Advisors, the Opus Foundation, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Kachuwa Impact Fund, Social Capital Partners, the Sorenson Foundation, clients advised by the Candide Group, clients advised by Fresh Pond Capital/Reynders McVeigh Capital Mgmt., clients advised by Natural Investments, clients advised by Chordata Capital, the Cooperative Assistance Fund, the Libra Foundation and Amy Brakeman with the support of the Candide Group, certain family offices and individual investors.
A&H is advised by a stand-out group of experts in investment, management, worker-centered training, and operations. Advisors include Melissa Bradley (1863 Ventures), Walter Mayo (CEO, Expert.AI), Dwayne Boothe (Directional Capital), Dr Russell Read (former CIO, CalPERS and Alaska Permanent Fund), Karin Burns (Franklin Energy), Melissa Hoover (DAWI), and Michael Quarrey (VP Web Industries and ownership culture expert). On the transaction side, A&H is advised and assisted by SES ESOP Strategies, one of the nation’s leading ESOP legal, investment banking and consulting firms, Mission Driven Finance, and K&L Gates LLP.
A&H will target a final fund size of $40 – 50 million.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.
About The Zero Gap Fund
This funding is part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Zero Gap Fund. Launched in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through the Catalytic Capital Consortium (C3), the Zero Gap Fund is a vehicle to channel private investment toward addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit: www.rockefellerfoundation.org/initiative/zero-gap-fund/
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