ESG has always been top of mind for TheVentureCity, but the firm’s recent partnership with the World Bank takes it a step further.
The Miami-based venture firm, known for backing early-stage diverse and nontraditional founders, has partnered with the World Bank for its fourth annual Innovate4Cimate accelerator program. The firm is working with five climate change-focused start-ups to give them the tools to scale and go to market.
The start-ups range from software as a service to consumer products. Fresh Box, a start-up based in Rwanda that looks to use cold storage to improve the agriculture supply chain, and Sadeem, a flood monitoring and warning system based in Saudi Arabia, were two of the start-ups selected.
Laura González-Estéfani, founder and CEO of TheVentureCity, said that the firm was excited to be involved with this initiative and is thrilled to work with the World Bank and the selected companies.
“The World Bank has been supporting these entrepreneurs with their businesses and they have been doing an excellent job,” she said. “But they also felt they needed someone who really spoke the start-up language, how to market, what are the different tactics to go to market.”
That’s where TheVentureCity comes in. The firm hopes to help the companies learn to navigate areas like product engineering, raising capital, what to look for in an investor and how to attract and retain talent.
“We help them in all these things at once so that any resource they may need over the life of the start-up they will know how to be prepared and how to make it happen,” González-Estéfani said.
The five companies were selected after a virtual pitch competition in June and will complete the six-month program in December. The companies are all in the early stages and while the accelerator doesn’t supply funding, some of the companies won capital during the initial pitch.
ESG at the core
This program also closely aligns with TheVentureCity’s mission. González-Estéfani said the firm is happy to be able to work with these global-minded founders from nontraditional venture markets like Spain and Colombia, where the firm was already active.
She added that the focus on climate change is important and ESG and sustainability has always been essential to the firm.
“The best future is happening as we speak. ESG has been at the core [of TheVentureCity],” she said. “When we built the company in 2017, no one was talking about ESG.”
González-Estéfani said that it is also just good business and that the firm wants to invest in what the world will look like in 10 years, and to do that it has to be focused on diverse founders looking for sustainable solutions to the world’s problems.
“For me, impact is a combination of lives that you touch and money you get back,” she said.
She added that in 2019, it seemed the venture industry was starting to come around to ESG. She hopes that continues along with the support and initiatives like Innovate4Climate coming from large multinational organizations and corporations.
“The climate is one of those issues that is touching everybody’s lives all over the world” González-Estéfani said. “Hopefully, this will be a program that continues. Hopefully, they will keep on choosing these super talented founders.”