Last week, Gateway Capital Partners was announced as one of Northwestern Mutual’s $100 million impact fund recipients focused on the Black community, which will allocate resources nationally and bolster existing work in the greater Milwaukee area through community and tech ecosystem development.
“An investment from a Fortune 100 company shines a spotlight on the city, not only Gateway Capital,” Dana Guthrie, managing partner Gateway Capital Partners, told The Plug.
“There is a large diverse population in Milwaukee, this investment is significant because it allows us to deploy capital to these entrepreneurs, but also to tell our story on a national stage that there are talented founders right here,” she said.
Talks to fund Gateway Capital began shortly after a $20 million investment from the financial institution’s venture arm, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, to local Black founders last November. Since then, the organization was instrumental in closing Guthrie’s oversubscribed $13.5 million first fund.
Guthrie, who started as a software engineer, had a desire to find ways to build generational wealth led her to angel investing, founding Alchemy Angels in 2018 as a result. The catalyzing effects of the racial and social equity movement of 2020 led to Gateway Capital partners, which in addition to Northwestern Mutual has one-third African American investors.
“Figuring out ways to build generational wealth was very important to me and for our community, it allows us to solve a lot of problems,” Guthrie said.
“Last summer was rough, we were forced to take notice of what was happening in the world of social justice. Ownership is the answer to a lot of the issues we are facing, whether it’s owning a home, owning a business, we need to have more intentionality around developing generational wealth so that future generations aren’t faced with the same problems.”
Social equity goals of Black fund managers will increasingly overlap with institutional investors as more Black-led funds work with institutional funds to facilitate social equity work.
“The Gateway Fund is an excellent vehicle to help us achieve the goals of our impact fund,” Ray Manista, executive vice president and chief legal and compliance officer at Northwestern Mutual told The Plug. “With the greater goal of racial equity in mind, we want to remain opportunistic and flexible as we identify potential investments that can deliver impact to these communities.”
Social impact funds are held to the same rigor to generate returns, having the bonus of doing well by doing good.
“I’m seeing a trend that institutional investors aren’t thinking that philanthropy and investing for return in mutually exclusive,” Guthrie said. “As a byproduct of our investment strategy focused on pre-revenue startups and focused on low to moderate-income areas, you’re going to see the social benefits. In my mind, there is a world where you get both financial returns and social good.”
Guthrie plans to make 12 to 15 investments from Gateway’s first fund, with an average investment of $400,000.