With more than 35 years in the investment industry, Myrna Rivera brings to CDVCA’s board deep experience with national capital markets and specific understanding of the Puerto Rican finance ecosystem
New York, New York – August 12, 2020 – The Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA), a community development financial institution (CDFI) and leader of the community development venture capital industry nationally, is proud to announce that its Board of Directors has unanimously voted to admit Ms. Myrna M. Rivera as its newest member.
The founder of Consultiva Wealth Management (Consultiva), Ms. Rivera has a long-standing professional career as an institutional investment advisor and contributes valuable experience in spurring economic growth and community development through private capital investment strategies. Headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico and serving over 120 investors on the Island and in cities along the U.S. eastern seaboard, Consultiva has been recognized as a leading women-owned investment advisory firm over the last decade, and Myrna has received multiple awards for her entrepreneurial leadership and contributions to Puerto Rican and Hispanic communities. “We are pleased to welcome Myrna to the CDVCA Board,” said Ray Moncrief, Chairman of the Board of CDVCA. “She is passionate about social justice and investing in the double-bottom line”. Myrna, who is expected to make valuable contributions to CDVCA’s decision-making processes, commented that “it’s a privilege to contribute my understanding of the investor mindset and help diversify CDVCA’s knowledge base and social capital as we continue to impact underinvested areas.”
We are pleased to announce that Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA) has received $50 million in New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) allocation to make business investments in underserved communities. The tax credit allocation is part of the highly competitive federal NMTC program, run by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund.
CDVCA has a long history of providing critical growth capital to help grow businesses and economies of distressed areas, supporting nearly 300 businesses and the creation of over 12,000 jobs. With its $50 million in new allocation, CDVCA will target operating businesses, based in low income communities on the mainland and Puerto Rico, focused on creating a large number of quality jobs and that may have a workforce development component to them that are accessible to low-income people.
Read the CDFI Fund’s full announcement here – CDFI Fund Announces More Than $3.5 Billion in New Markets Tax Credits.
I was happy to read about Parallel 18’s latest group of startups and listen to each company pitch during their recent virtual kickoff event. Generation 8 is the accelerator’s first all Puerto Rican cohort and it surfaces as a hopeful sign amidst a sea of small businesses that have shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of the Gen 8 companies stem from parallel 18’s pre-acceleration program, which speaks to their strategic approach to nurturing business growth at an early stage.
Parallel 18 is one of a handful of business incubators and accelerators on the Island. It is a program of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust. Similar programs are offered by Grupo Guayacan, PRTEC, and Startup.pr, to name a few. As tax-exempt entities these organizations receive both governmental and philanthropic support to finance the grants, services and support they provide to participating startups. This activity should prompt some questions from taxpayers and investors alike: What role do startups have in economic development? How are they financed? What else do they need to grow? And do start-ups have a place in an investment portfolio? The Kauffman Foundation reports that because of their high-growth nature, successful startups account for up to 50% of new jobs created in the U.S. They also expand the commercial base by adding new business locations and encourage direct and indirect employment growth. For most startups, immediate financing needs arise as they try to prove their concept (product or service) and test their target market. At the so-called pre-seed stage, capital is sourced mostly from FFF (Family, Friends, and Fools), business angels and the accelerators themselves.
Startups able to raise this initial financing look to grow a product that can start generating “traction”; a company’s first purchasing commitments or sales. Simultaneously they look to consolidate their core team, the members who will then be referred to as the founders. The right team and getting traction are key in obtaining additional capital from angels with deeper pockets and early-stage venture capital (VC) firms. Reaching the seed stage does not guarantee that the
busines will have success, but growth will not occur if risk capital is not secured early on.
Many startups will be unable to find a profitable product-market fit and fail to meet growth expectations. Forbes magazine reported a few years ago that up to 90% of startups fail to meet their market potential or promise for financial returns. Those that fail to grow exponentially will sometimes evolve into lifestyle companies or keep operating “under the radar” waiting for market conditions to improve. An entrepreneur that fails at this stage usually goes back to the drawing board to figure out how the market opportunity can be better addressed.
The few survivors of the seed stage pass on to series A and B financing rounds where founders usually give up a significant stake in their company in exchange for the capital needed to scale. VC funds are the main source of financing at this stage, and investors will fund start-ups through these funds to gain exposure to a high-risk / high-reward asset class unmatched by the public markets. Capital is not all that matters at this stage. The top VC firms standout because of their ability to add value to the companies they invest in in the form of market access, technological know-how or operational prowess and efficiency. While the founders’ stake in the business decreases through this process, they are usually compensated by the growth in market value of their stock.
Does this startup investment scenario play out in Puerto Rico? The truth is that venture activity has been scant at best in our jurisdiction over the past 30 years. With the exception of Advent-Morro Equity Partners, it wasn’t until 2014’s Act 185 – Puerto Rico Private Equity Funds law – that other private investing options popped up. By 2017 the Office of Puerto Rico’s Commissioner for Financial Institutions had reported 14 funds registered under this law, and other options have risen since. Currently, there is a much wider spectrum of funds providing alternative financing throughout the capital stack.
Some of these funds were created to target individual investors mostly interested in the tax advantages of Act 185 (now part of Act 60). The jury is still out on the impact of these tax incentives, but it is nice to know that this financing space is not as empty as it once was. Local tax-exempt institutional investors have also invested in Act 185 funds to increase diversification in their portfolios. Many of them have also recognized the potential for these investment portfolios to contribute to the
local economy by providing jobs, innovative products, and additional commerce and contributions to the local tax base.
So, what businesses do these funds invest in? That is the piece of the puzzle business incubators and accelerators seek to address. Today there are many young sophisticated entrepreneurs, that first learned about entrepreneurship in their school, thanks to multisectoral efforts, such as Banco Popular de Puerto Rico’s Echar Pa’ Lante initiative. Puerto Rico has quietly been investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs over the last two decades and they are now creating profitable businesses hungry for investment dollars that can fuel their growth. Parallel 18 200+ international business graduates prove this, as do the alumni from Guayacan’s EnterPRize Business Competition, and the many startups moving into new co-working spaces on their own.
So, if there are startups in Puerto Rico doing business internationally and ready to grow, and we have local risk capital funds with investment management experience, where are the investors for these high risk / high reward opportunities? They are out there, but still quite shy about investing in Puerto Rico. Our economy has been taking a beating since 2006, and hurricane María stretched out our recovery even further. Local investors are still going through a toxic experience with the Puerto Rico bonds, while U.S. investors have focused on “safer” investments in public markets. However, we have seen some exceptions which we can tap into and hopefully build on. For example, the Calvert Foundation (now Calvert Impact Capital) investing in the Lift Puerto Rico Business Impact Fund, managed by Acrecent Financial, to provide alternative financing to local businesses.
Before the pandemic, we had witnessed close to $200 million raised in commitments to private equity and venture capital in Puerto Rico between 2015 and 2019. The Puerto Rico Fund for Growth, which the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA) manages, is almost a quarter of that amount. However, this is a far cry from the total investment dollars in Puerto Rico pension funds, insurance reserves, corporate reserves, foundations and endowments which surpass the $30 billion mark, but, it is a good start for investments with a mandate towards our jurisdiction. If our recovery continues to provide opportunities to our courageous entrepreneurs and savvy investment managers, investors will continue to have options to make market-rate financial returns while providing much-needed financing for businesses in our economy.
While relatively new to Puerto Rico, the placed-based investing phenomenon is quite common elsewhere. Pacific Community Ventures, which is also part of the CDVCA investment portfolio, recently published a Catalog of Economically Targeted Investments by Pension Funds showing that 30% of the 118 investments made in the private equity space were also meant to finance growing innovative businesses and create jobs. KPMG, one of the world’s “big 4” accounting firms, recently reported how the private equity industry is increasingly raising funds designed to “marry” financial returns and positive societal outcomes. These investors are key for growing startups and essential in moving towards an economy that can rely on innovation for value creation, growth, and employment.
Under our current circumstances, investors might think that a responsible approach obligates them to invest all their assets abroad, and they would be 95% right. Through hundreds of lawsuits, we have learned the hard way the importance of diversification in mitigating risk. However, it could also be argued that it is our responsibility to allocate investment dollars locally, where jobs are created, income generated, and taxes paid to the local treasury to support government services, infrastructure development, and public works. A 5% allocation could provide $1.5 billion to finance local businesses and help us continue to build Puerto Rico’s wealth. If investors are key in supporting our burgeoning startup ecosystem, shouldn’t we be our own first investors? I hope you agree with me that we must.
The author is Vice President of the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance and member of the Puerto Rico Fund for Growth investment management team. Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“What is the role of Community Development Venture Capital (CDVC) in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses and supporting a recovery that is inclusive of all communities and people.”
This is a very uncertain and trying time. On a daily basis the goal posts change, impact metrics become more profound and re-opening of the economy moves to an accelerated pace but marred by an abundance of caution. The impact felt in low income communities and on low income people is even more acute, risking the economic development gains of the past years with rapid increases in unemployment, loss of job quality characteristics and limited workforce development opportunities and job accessibility.
Companies today, be them small or large, will have significant constraints going forward. Potential areas of impact include:
· Laying off staff and workers
· Reductions in 401K or other wealth generating benefits
· Reductions in coverage or total loss of medical and healthcare benefits
· Loss of opportunities for skills training programs
Many companies, particularly in manufacturing and industrials, may accelerate strategies about the future of work and introduce more automation, robotics and AI in the workplace, displacing even more workers, many at entry level or on the front lines.
For fund managers, particularly those in the Community Development Venture Capital (CDVC) space change is afoot too.
· What could this mean in real terms for fund managers?
· What will the new reality be of raising a new fund?
· How will we deploy capital in this economic climate and in low income markets?
· Will there be increased limitations in calling capital from LP’s who may not be liquid themselves, or who have readjusted their portfolios to de-risks or reduce over exposure in private equity markets?
· What levels of dry powder will fund need to manage and keep for future trends?
· How will funds manage and work with portfolio companies and their burn rates as they struggle to survive?
These are all issues we need to grapple with in the coming months, and maybe year ahead.
Funds and fund managers need to begin a thorough risk assessment of the damage Codiv19 has brought to their portfolio companies, their own fund and their relationships with LP’s. Secondly, we need to diligently assess the financial and social impact of the crisis on LIC’s and LIP’s in the communities we serve.
As Vice President at Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA), the trade association for Community Development Venture Capital (CDVC) in the United States, we are working with partners and leading the charge in supporting funds and portfolio company’s strategize how together we plan for an inclusive recovery, monitor and prepare for what dynamics new demand from consumers, investors and communities will look like. From manufacturing and industrials (for example will we see a rise in the demand for onshoring pharmaceuticals and other sectors in the US), will we see an increase in consumer goods and on-line services from Tele Medicine to online communications. (what shape what a new normal may look like and how will we respond to it).
A further consideration.
· What will the new normal be with trillions of Government and Federal Reserve dollars circulating the in the economy?
· Will market dynamics change with the role of Government (Federal, State and Local) subsidies?
· Will there be added incentives offed to manufacturing and industrial sectors as we seek to onshore production in the US of vital supply lines?
· Will these incentives increase investments in low income communities where factories and production will reside?
As we progress through the crisis and recover, how will we assess the systemic and long-term damage to underserved and low-income communities and low-income people. Will there be a tightening of LP’s appetite for Impact Investing and higher risk investments, even if they bring with them social impact at scale?
CDVCA is interested in assessing the wide scope of the Covid19 crisis on the CDVC eco system, across LP’s, GP’s, Portfolio Companies, Job Quality, Workforce Development and Social Impact. Investments in Low Income Communities, and in entrepreneurs of color or minorities are at serious risk of drying up, affecting low income people and minorities the hardest. Investments will dry up precisely when we need it the most, to keep these vulnerable communities strong, alive, and prosperous.
Many of these same communities were ravaged by the financial crisis and are still struggling with high Opioid usage, long term unemployment issues, lower than average labor participation rates and above average poverty rates. The needs of capital inflows in these communities is critical for an equitable recovery of the US. (And to which lessons should have been learned in the post financial crisis recovery).
How much does worker churn cost your business? A large and growing body of research shows that turnover is a significant expense to firms. But how do you calculate this cost, and what do you do with what you learn?
Putting a dollar figure on the annual financial impact of losing and rehiring workers at your company may help you make the case – and find the resources – for investing in strategies to improve retention. One important retention strategy, investing in the education, training and development of your workers, is also good for your bottom line. Companies that provide upskilling opportunities report reductions in their rate of turnover. Investing in upskilling could save your business money in the long term.
Aspen Institute has a useful publication to help your business
The March 9 deadline is fast approaching for members of the public to submit comments to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) regarding proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations. OFN has published our draft recommendations so community development financial institution (CDFI) supporters can understand our views on an issue of critical importance to the people and places CDFIs serve.
All investors and companies create positive and negative effects on society and the environment. Impact investors seek to maximize the positive and minimize the negative by using the IRIS+ system to integrate social and environmental factors into investment decisions alongside risk and return.
Credible, comparable impact data are needed to inform impact investment decisions and drive greater impact results. IRIS+ solves for this by increasing data clarity and comparability, and it provides streamlined, practical, how-to guidance that impact investors need, all in one easy-to-navigate system. It is a free, publicly available resource that is managed by the Global Impact Investing Network – the global champion of impact investing.