As We Seek Certainty in Uncertain Times, B Capital Gives Back
August 10, 2020
We find ourselves in challenging times with unknown paths to forge. The sudden onset of COVID-19 and the turbulent wake that has followed, from shelter-in-place advisories to closures of entire cities, continues to challenge nearly every person and business on the planet. At the same time, the United States has come to a point of reckoning as we question how to end systemic bias and racism in our communities and public institutions, once and for all. The past weeks and months have been filled with fear, anguish and a desire to enact lasting change as we face the impossible task of trying to make sense of the devastation of a deadly virus, and the violence and oppression targeted at the Black community and other groups of various backgrounds and beliefs.
In the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, my partners at B Capital Group and I convened virtually to assess the new landscape and clearly and concisely articulated the objectives we wanted to anchor on in the coming months. Our first two priorities were internal-facing: Our commitment to our people, and our portfolio. Above all, we needed to ensure the continued health and safety of our team members and support our founders and their companies to help them operate successfully. The third priority, as important as our first two, was a commitment to support those in our communities (both local and global) who are the most vulnerable or marginalized, whether it be from a global pandemic or from a chronic societal challenge.
B Capital Group was founded on the belief that innovation can come from anywhere and that as global investors, we have an opportunity to identify, encourage and support the people solving challenging problems all over the world. The spread of COVID-19, and the urgent need to make real, lasting and far-reaching changes to eliminate systemic racial bias, has revealed an obligation to carry that ethos beyond the investing world and honor that belief in our local communities.
On behalf of B Capital Group’s partners, I am proud to share that we launched a new initiative to make good on that commitment: B Capital Gives Back.
It is impossible to ignore that our local communities have many needs and face a tough and uncertain road ahead. In the U.S., unemployment is rampant, and disproportionately impacts minority workers. The U.N. estimates the number of people living with food insecurity globally will double, to 265 million people, by the end of the year. COVID-19 has taken the lives of more than 150,000 people in the U.S. alone.
We’ve defined a 2020 goal of contributing US$1MM in financial giving and employee volunteering directed toward vetted important causes and organizations that make a direct and immediate impact on the people and economies in the places we operate and invest.
To fulfill our vision, B Capital partnered with The Giving Back Fund, a nonprofit that encourages and facilitates charitable giving to help us to direct our support in dollars and staff time to philanthropic efforts. We are working with Percent Pledge to facilitate the employee matching program and the volunteer effort.
We focused on selecting partnering organizations that could impact areas of need in the communities where we operate including the United States, Southeast Asia and India. After reflecting on the important conversations happening in the U.S. regarding racism, injustice and inequality, we also added several charitable organizations specifically addressing social justice and equality. After careful consideration, and incorporating feedback from the entire B Capital team, we proudly delivered financial contributions to the following organizations:
· Team Rubicon: Team Rubicon is an international non-profit disaster response organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams, free of charge, to communities affected by disasters.
· COVID Tech Connect: COVID Tech Connect is sending smart devices to hospitals and senior care facilities across the US that allow critically ill patients to connect with their loved ones.
· Second Harvest of Silicon Valley: Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is one of the largest food banks in the nation, providing food to more than a quarter of a million people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties every month. More than half the people served are kids and seniors.
· NYC Health and Hospital System: NYC Health + Hospitals is an integrated health care system of hospitals, neighborhood health centers, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and home care — the public safety net health care system of New York City. NYC Health + Hospitals is committed to delivering high quality health services with compassion, dignity, and respect to all, regardless of income, gender identity, or immigration status.
· The Meal Bridge: A non-profit created in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic that pairs local restaurants with hospitals to provide donated meals to healthcare workers, supporting both the restaurant industry and frontline responders.
· National CARES Mentoring: A national program that alleviates intergenerational poverty in the African American community via programs that provide social, emotional and academic support to help Black children thrive in life.
· Equal Justice Initiative: EJI provides legal representation to people who have been wrongfully convicted, unfairly sentenced or abused in jails and prisons.
· Campaign Zero: An organization dedicated to ending police violence in America by limiting police interventions, increasing community engagement and ensuring accountability.
· The Bail Project: A fund that helps prevent incarceration and addresses racial and economic disparities in the bail system.
· LIVE FREE: Founded in response to the COVID crisis and its disproportionate impact on underserved and minority communities, LIVE FREE provides free personal protective equipment and preventive care.
· Project Kalay: Founded in 2015 in Myanmar, Project Kalay is dedicated to promoting better health in children through disease prevention and education. With movement now severely restricted, few visitors and essentially no tourism, obtaining basic supplies such as food and soap is now extremely difficult for these children and their caretakers. Project Kalay is working to obtain donations to supply basic foodstuffs and soap to as many children in the monasteries as possible during this pandemic.
· Doctors without Borders: Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) is an international, independent medical humanitarian organization that offers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, pandemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. B Capital is supporting efforts in Indonesia and Malaysia including awareness, training and education on infection prevention and control measures, guidance on PPE usage, translation services in hospitals, and food provisions for vulnerable families.
· UNHCR: The United Nations Refugee Agency is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. B Capital donations support COVID-19 efforts in Indonesia which includes PPE supplies provisioning, direct cash transfers, medical interventions and other grassroots activities for 5,430 refugees, 6,000 local Indonesians and 20,000 medical staff.
· ACT: A syndicate of India based VC firms facilitated by the United Way India, ACT backs the best start up founders and deserving volunteers combatting COVID-19 using existing start-up assets as force multipliers. The syndicate provides grants to individuals or companies focused on four main areas: reducing COVID transmission, enabling testing, helping prepare infrastructure for the next stage and supporting healthcare providers.
At a time when many people have to focus on surviving the very near term, or are faced with real threats of violence and discrimination in their neighborhoods, there has never been a better time for us to invest in the future of our communities via financial support for the organizations protecting the most vulnerable. Our team is committed to providing support, with the hope that our efforts impact those who need it most in this time of uncertainty.