The Commonwealth portfolio of investments consists of two types: Impact Ventures and Growth Opportunities. Impact ventures are long-term, strategic partnerships that build a marketplace of opportunities for faith-driven causes. These include the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute, the Integrated Business Roundtable, and the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. Commonwealth couples Impact Ventures with Growth Opportunities, which showcase faith-driven entrepreneurs who have a strong business model, demonstrate impact, and need growth capital. Across both types, highlights of 2020 include:
Minority Entrepreneurship Institute
The Minority Entrepreneurship Institute (MEI) held its second annual investment showcase at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters in July, where we awarded $600,000 to five minority-owned businesses. Two of the companies – Kanarys, and ShearShare – as well as another CW company, LoanWell, went on to be selected for Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. Zirtue and Kanarys were also runner ups in the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, taking home $500,000 each.
In September, MEI hosted its first virtual Summit to educate and empower minority entrepreneurs with the business skills they need to be successful. Speakers included Managing Partner of Collab Capital and Head of Google for Startups in the US Jewel Burks Solomon, TxO Partner at Andreessen Horowitz Naithan Jones, and Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer for the Dallas Cowboys Charlotte Jones.
More recently, MEI founder Jaylon Smith was selected by the Dallas Cowboys as its Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. But perhaps the most exciting announcement of 2020 is welcoming MEI Executive Director Jarrod Barnes (pictured here) to the team. Jarrod will lead the day-to-day operations of MEI with a focus on investor relations and support for portfolio companies.
The Integrated Business Roundtable
The Integrated Business Roundtable (IBR) was launched by Sagamore in partnership with several partners in Q1. Little did we know then that the Middle East would be transformed by the US brokering the Abraham Accords which normalized relations between Israel and a growing community of Arab nations.
In the midst of this historic year, IBR held the first IBR Investment Showcase, awarding $150,000 each to a digital health company and clean energy enterprise operating in the region. Coinciding with the Showcase was the 2020 Israeli Palestinian Economic Forum, which brought together hundreds of people from the global business, policy, and investment sectors to support the development of the emergent economy in Judea and Samaria. Read more IBR highlights here.
Prison Entrepreneurship Program
Since the first Barbed Wire to Business Accelerator in 2019, the Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) has expanded its pipeline of investment opportunities and enhanced business support services for program graduates. The winner of the inaugural pitch competition, Reuben Mauricio, continues to excel with his mobile repair service. Two other businesses – Cherokee Acres and IronRod Steel – are finalizing loans at year end and a few more opportunities are being cultivated for future investment.
Entre Capital, PEP’s second chance lender, has scaled its operations this year and added development services including financial literacy training, collateral management, and relentless engagement with volunteers. Entre is working towards Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) status, which will enable it to receive funds from financial institutions under the Community Reinvestment Act to invest in second chance businesses at scale.
The three impact ventures above—MEI, IBR, and PEP—offer impact investment opportunities that tackle some of the world’s greatest problems with a market rate of return. Commonwealth has also identified a “Growth Opportunity” rate of return (20%+) for a deal that aims to revitalize dozens of US cities with faith-inspired innovations. This redemptive real estate venture seeks to grow COhatch locations in multiple locations across the Midwest, Texas, and Southeast US.
Christian Economic Forum 2021 Global Event
The Christian Economic Forum is hosting its annual Global Event this summer, and you are invited to join! After a season of being apart, we look forward to being together again to pursue solutions to the world’s greatest challenges and most pressing needs.
Please note that the Global Event is a member-only event. If you are not yet a CEF member, please click here to sign up for membership. Otherwise, please click the button below to register for the CEF 2021 Global Event.
The registration fee covers your 2021 Global Event sessions, meals, and materials. After you have completed your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with more information about hotel reservations and other event details. We hope to see you there!