March 10, 2021 (Brunswick, ME) – CEI Ventures, Inc. finalized the initial closing of its fifth fund on March 1, 2021 with a capital raise of $14.85 million from 32 accredited investors. A subsidiary of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a non-profit community development financial institution (CDFI) and innovative leader in rural business development, CEI Ventures is one of the only venture capital firms in the U.S. with a mission focus and proven strategy to help create good jobs. Since 1996, including last week’s closing, CEI Ventures has raised over $60 million and invested in 64 companies across five funds, helping to create 2,700 new jobs in geographic regions and with demographic populations often overlooked by traditional venture capital investors.
“We faced significant headwinds at the start of our capital raise when the pandemic broke out,” said Nat Henshaw, president and managing director of CEI Ventures, Inc. “At the same time, we stepped up our efforts to support existing portfolio companies who were struggling to navigate an unprecedented global economic and health care crisis. Watching them pivot and reposition themselves, at the same time our country reckoned with racial injustice, reinforced our commitment to launching the Good Jobs Fund. We are grateful to the investors who understand that meaningful innovation happens at the intersection of entrepreneurship, financial performance and social impact and we are excited to get to work.”
The 32 Good Jobs Fund accredited investors include nine individuals, two foundations, four community economic development entities and 17 banks motivated, in part, by Community Reinvestment Act credit.
“What we heard from the Good Jobs Fund investors, especially given the events of the past year, is a desire to grow good quality jobs in regions that typically draw little or no equity capital and where many jobs may have been lost permanently due to the pandemic,” said Betsy Biemann, CEO of CEI. “Our ability to deliver also means that their capital will reach an innovative and diverse pool of entrepreneurs, who are ready to hit the ground running as our country heals and our economy recovers.”
CEI Ventures is able to invest regionally and nationally through a network of partners. With 25 years of experience developing strong relationships with co-investors and entrepreneurs, CEI Ventures has a robust pipeline for deal sourcing across industries that include software, consumer products and services, telecommunications, food and beverage, financial services, health care, biotechnology and environmentally sustainable products and services. Target companies typically have under $10 million in capital needs, attractive valuations, a clear path to liquidity and a desire to invest in their workforce as central to business strategy.
That’s where CEI Ventures’ mission makes a difference. By working hand in hand with CEI’s workforce solutions team, CEI Ventures engages with portfolio companies to offer pragmatic solutions to strengthen their workforce, including strategies to improve job quality in order to boost worker recruitment, retention and company performance.
“Not only are we working with business owners to identify and address workforce challenges, we also gather and assess performance data to understand how proposed solutions make a difference for the bottom line,” said Cynthia Murphy, senior program director for workforce solutions at CEI. “CVI portfolio companies that are providing good jobs, meaning that they offer a living wage, benefits and a fair and engaging workplace, doubled between 2018 and 2019. Sometimes, that means improving just one element of a good job—but it makes a difference, particularly at a time when so many people are struggling in our economy, before and during the pandemic.”
Typical initial investments range from $250,000 to $2 million. Examples of current portfolio companies include the following:
Constant.AI is a woman-founded and -led business that has developed a game changing software platform for lenders that can seamlessly identify troubled borrowers and offer end-to-end, automated loan restructuring along with workout options. Constant’s software replaces a manual, paper-based process, providing faster answers to borrowers and reducing incidents of default. In 2020, the company received an AI TechAward for best in Consumer AI Technology and was recognized as a Benzinga Global Fintech Listmaker.
Culture Fresh Foods re-launched a former Yocrunch facility in Naugatuck, Connecticut, to process plant-based food. The company plans to rehire as many as 100 employees, many second or third generation immigrants, who were laid off when the former facility closed. The jobs provide comprehensive benefits.
VETRO, Inc., creator of VETRO FiberMap, is a Portland based software company that has developed a transformative, easy to use, cloud-based fiber management system used by the telecommunications industry. With offices in both Portland, ME, and Buffalo, NY, VETRO, Inc has grown from 16 employees to over 40 since CVI’s initial investment. The company offers highly competitive benefits and wages and has a robust hiring plan for 2021.
ABOUT CEI VENTURES
CEI Ventures, Inc. manages socially responsible venture capital funds. For 25 years, CEI Ventures has successfully identified and cultivated growth-oriented businesses that create good jobs for people living in rural towns and small gateway cities, primarily in the Northeast. Learn more at www.ceiventures.com
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity in Maine and in rural regions across the country by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. CEI envisions a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy, enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential. More at www.ceimaine.org.
CONTACT: Liz Rogers, firstname.lastname@example.org