The mission of the Beacon Fund is clear, it wants to offer female founders in Asia an alternative pathway to funding and growth. “Rather than changing women-owned businesses to fit the system, we believe we can change the system to better meet the needs of female entrepreneurs.” The fund’s website explains.
The fund was seeded by Patamar Capital in 2020, it’s being managed by Shuyin Tang (who’s a partner at Patamar), and it’s recently received an injection of capital from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), which is part of the Nippon Foundation, based in Japan.
The Beacon Fund has identified a “missing middle” of female-led and female-focussed businesses that are too small for venture funding, too big to rely on microfinance, and who may simply miss out on funding due to gender bias.
“There is a vast underserved segment of businesses whose growth profile does not match with the expectations of VC/PE, but are creating considerable value for their customers and stakeholders. In fact, these SMEs are the backbone of the economy in Southeast Asia. Many of these businesses have grown organically and demonstrated solid cash-flows over time. We saw this was a common growth trajectory for female entrepreneurs in particular. The Beacon Fund is focused on meeting the financing needs of these types of businesses, and beyond that, creating a community celebrating alternative models of entrepreneurial and investing success,” Shuyin Tang says.
The fund has so far raised half of its initial target of $US50 million, and it’s very close to announcing its first investment, more to come on that. Complementing its seed funding from Patamar, it received contributions from USAID, and DFAT-funded Investing in Women, on top of the most recent allocation from SPF.
This investment from SPF highlights the growing awareness of how important it is for investors to take a gender lens, as well as its vital contribution to economic growth.
“While the topic of gender equality is often interpreted and discussed in the context of women’s empowerment, at its core, gender equality is an issue that effects all of us. We need to consider equality, inclusivity, diversity and intersectionality on all dimensions and ensure all members of society have opportunities to prosper and thrive. Ensuring women’s economic empowerment and equal access to resources and opportunities is key and we at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation will continue promoting gender lens investing, as we see the important role that it plays in contributing to the economic development of the region, and in accelerating a more inclusive, dynamic and sustainable development for all. We are confident that the Beacon Fund will help resolve the problems that female entrepreneurs encounter when raising capital. ” said Itsu Adachi, Executive Director of SPF.
Beacon Fund is aiming to invest in parcels of between $US500,000 to $US2 million. And initially it is focussing on debt product as they tend to be a better fit for the moderate-growth, cash-flow positive businesses that they have in their sights.
And, thanks to the support of Investing in Women, they have a ‘Covid-19 Resilience Facility’ which has allowed them to make smaller investments starting from $US200,000.