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Capital Access Lab

About the Capital Access Lab

The Capital Access Lab is a national initiative that aims to find, promote, and scale innovative investment managers, providing new kinds of capital to underserved entrepreneurs and communities in the United States.

Capital Access Lab pipeline

The Capital Access Lab is designed to provide risk capital to new investment models that do not resemble traditional venture capital or lending, spurring the formation of new financing mechanisms that increase capital investment to underserved entrepreneurs who have been historically left behind due to their race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, and/or geographic location.

It will provide capital in the range of $250,000 to $1 million into three-to-five investments funds that will, in turn, provide capital to underserved entrepreneurs.

This is not a typical fund – the Capital Access Lab will provide early capital to innovative, emerging funds that make investments directly to underserved entrepreneurs.

Greater availability of capital means that more entrepreneurs will be able to start and grow their businesses, ultimately assisting individuals in achieving economic mobility and independence through entrepreneurial success.

History and Background

The Kauffman Foundation extensively examined possible barriers entrepreneurs face accessing capital – finding that at least 83% of new businesses don’t access either venture capital or bank loans.

The result is that many of those who have been historically left behind – including due to race, ethnicity, gender, or geography – have greater challenges with accessing the initial capital to start or grow a young business.

The Capital Access Lab pilot program was launched in 2019, seeking out and funding innovative strategies to support the 83% or more of entrepreneurs who don’t receive either venture capital or a bank loan and are not well-served by the capital markets.

Learn about the research that led to the formation of the Capital Access Lab in this excerpt from “Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs: Removing Barriers,” that explores the current capital landscape to identify barriers facing underserved entrepreneurs.

We have secured two initial foundation investors – the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Kauffman Foundation has committed $3 million to seed this new initiative. The Rockefeller Foundation has invested $500,000.

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private $2 billion foundation located in Kansas City, Missouri, founded in 1966 by philanthropist and entrepreneur, Ewing Marion Kauffman. The Kauffman Foundation believes that all people – regardless of their background – should have the opportunity to learn, take risks, and own their own success. Kauffman listens to the communities it serves, taps into learnings and relationships, and brings everyone together to build and support programs that improve education, boost entrepreneurs, and help our hometown of Kansas City thrive.

Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a private $4 billion foundation with locations in the United States, Italy, Kenya, and Thailand. The mission – unchanged since 1913 – is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, the Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. Further, the Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations.

Accomplishments to Date