By Foster Obi
Morgan Stanley, TruFund Financial Services and the Ford Foundation yersterday announced the launch of the Impact Developers Fund. The $26 million fund will provide much needed capital to emerging impact businesses that lack access to adequate affordable capital, including minority and women owned real estate development companies, expanding their capacity to build, own and operate quality affordable housing and to provide value-adding social services to enhance residents’ quality of life.
A statement by the group saidthe fund will also provide custom capital solutions, including debt and equity, tailored to the needs and capacity of the business.
Managed by TruFund Financial Services, a minority-led nonprofit financial services organization, the Impact Developers Fund will be seeded by Morgan Stanley and the Ford Foundation. In addition to investing equity capital, the Fund will provide technical support to emerging impact developers that lack access to adequate capital and support from conventional sources. Investments will be used for working capital to acquire, develop and operate affordable housing and community services.
“Morgan Stanley is proud to partner with the Ford Foundation and TruFund Financial Services on this important initiative that will help expand racial and gender diversity in the community development field by increasing access to capital for the next generation of developers,” said Shelley O’Connor, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley Private Bank, N.A. and Morgan Stanley Bank, N.A.
“We are very pleased to partner with TruFund and Morgan Stanley — two financiers that have a demonstrated commitment to community-oriented investment. This effort reflects our shared desire to create innovative, bespoke solutions that address the complex development needs of communities nationwide and direct much-needed capital to emerging impact businesses, including those led by women and people of color,” said Roy Swan, Head of Mission Investments at the Ford Foundation.
“TruFund applauds Morgan Stanley and the Ford Foundation for its commitment and in-depth engagement in community development efforts and for their support and work with TruFund Financial Services to meet the capital needs of minority and women owned real estate development companies” said James H. Bason, President & CEO of TruFund Financial Services, Inc.
The statement noted thatWomen and minorities face an unusual struggle to access the capital needed to grow their businesses in all industries, particularly real estate. For example, African Americans receive only 2% of all SBA loan products. This lack of capital available to minorities to start and grow their businesses is also reflected in the shortage of minority-owned companies in the affordable housing industry.
“Although data on the number of women and minority owned affordable housing developers is opaque, a 2019 study by Harvard Business School and Bella Research identified only 17 women-owned and 21 minority-owned real estate investment firms among the total universe of 967 firms listed in the Prequin database, less than 5% of the industry. The percentage of real estate assets under management is even lower, with women and minorities representing about 0.8% and 1.2% respectively, of the industry totals.
“The Impact Developers Fund has identified its first cohort of clients and it is anticipated that future rounds will expand to serve more minority developers,” the statement affirmed