First annual unit holder meeting of the anticipated Portuguese impact venture capital fund – Mustard Seed MAZE – received its 26 investors in Lisbon.
The 30M€ fund will invest in 30 startups who respond to the major social and environmental challenges of our time.
The main investors in the Mustard Seed MAZE fund are the European Investment Fund, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Ageas Portugal Group, BMW Group and Atlântico Europa.
The venture capital fund Mustard Seed MAZE was officially announced on January 16th in Lisbon at its first annual unitholder meeting with its 26 investors. The Mustard Seed MAZE fund is the first venture capital fund in Portugal with an investment strategy exclusively focused on technological startups that contribute to the resolution of social and environmental problems, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
António Miguel and Henry Wigan, the Fund’s Managing Partners, started raising investment in early 2018. “When we thought of raising an impact fund in Portugal, everyone loved the idea, but very few believed that it was possible. We saw in Portugal the opportunity to make it the centre of impact economics at the European level. Every day, we see more and more startups with high potential to start or move here. Thanks to our investors, our fund is in a privileged position to make our impact ecosystem grow and to make Portugal, an ideal place for innovative solutions that solve global challenges to settle” said António.
The Mustard Seed MAZE fund has raised a total of 30 million euros and could reach the 40 million euros bar during 2020.
The main investors of the Mustard Seed MAZE fund are the European Investment Fund (through the Social Impact Accelerator fund), the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Ageas Portugal Group, BMW Group and Atlântico Europa. In total, there are 26 investors from 10 different countries.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation leads on the investors’ side, having been the first to invest in the fund and to support the mobilization of other investors. “Betting on developing an impact investment agenda is our opportunity to stay on the right side of history. Combining investment opportunities with the creation of social and environmental positive impact will be fundamental in solving the great challenges of our time. This decision made by the Foundation, more than a historic moment, is a natural step in what has been the Foundation’s work in the development of an innovation and social investment ecosystem in Portugal, aligned with the work that other international Foundations have been developing”, Luís Jerónimo, Director of the Cohesion and Social Integration Programme of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Katrien Buys, Director of Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability at the Ageas Portugal Group, said “The Ageas Group wants to be a company with an active, structured and innovative role in creating a positive impact in society. We, therefore, believe that the right path is to combine innovation and our knowledge with the creation of relevant solutions that respond to the biggest social and environmental challenges. For the Ageas Portugal Group, this fund has the perfect fit with our strategy and with the duty of responsibility that we feel towards society, and our involvement is the proof that investment and the creation of positive social impact can go hand in hand, contributing to differentiated business opportunities.”
All the work on structuring the fund and legal support were led by PLMJ, which is a leader in the area of impact investment in Portugal in the context of law firms.
The fund plans to invest in around 30 impact startups in Portugal and throughout Europe (excluding the United Kingdom). The Mustard Seed MAZE fund seeks profitable solutions that use technology to solve social and environmental problems. Metrics of social and/or environmental impact are defined for each and every investment of the Mustard Seed MAZE fund. The fund’s innovative feature is the remuneration of the fund’s management team in terms of performance, which is dependent on compliance with the social and environmental impact metrics of each investment and the portfolio, as a whole, aligning incentives with the investment thesis.
Student Finance is the first confirmed investment of the Mustard Seed MAZE fund. This startup uses the Income Share Agreements model to requalify students and workers, ensuring that they only pay the cost of their education if they can find a better job. Miguel Santo Amaro and Mariano Kostelec, co-founders of Uniplaces, and Marta Palmeiro are the co-founders of this innovative portuguese startup.