If you're with a company focused on clean, green technology, you may be eligible for funding through a Small Business Administration (SBA) Impact Investment Fund, SJF Ventures III, LP. SJF will make equity investments in clean tech companies across the country; its areas of focus include efficiency and infrastructure; reuse and recycling; sustainable agriculture and food safety; and technology enhanced services. The fund is committing up to $75 million over the next five years.
This funding falls under the umbrella of Startup America, an initiative launched last year by the White House with the goals of unlocking access to capital and accelerating the jump from lab to market for breakthrough technologies. In addition to the Impact Investment fund, Startup America also launched a $1 billion early-stage innovation initiative in order to provide startups with a bridge between seed financing and traditional financing.
SJF Ventures III is what's referred to as a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) fund. In 2011, SBIC funds provided $2.8 billion in financing to more than 1,300 small businesses, the SBA says. SBIC funds differ from some other SBA loan programs in that they are privately owned and managed funds that are licensed and regulated by the SBA. The funds use their own capital as well as funds borrowed with an SBA guarantee, as described in this overview from the SBA. The types of investments that SBICs face have some restrictions; for instance, they can't invest in finance and investment companies.
SJF Ventures, the company behind SJF Ventures III, is a venture capital firm focused on clean technology, premium consumer products, and business and web-enhanced services. Along with looking for financial returns, the company says it “looks to partner with entrepreneurs who are committed to impacting the world positively through the businesses that they are creating.” Among the companies in its portfolio is eRecyclingCorps, which helps wireless firms manage e-waste; CleanScapes, an environmental services firm; and Rustic Crust, a manufacturer of all-natural and organic artisan quality pizza products.
An earlier Impact Investment fund, the InvestMichigan! Mezzanine Fund, launched last year. It focused, not surprisingly, on businesses headquartered or with a significant presence in Michigan.