Standing against racism and prejudice

At Bridges Fund Management, we stand with the peaceful demonstrators across the United States, exercising their First Amendment rights to protest the deaths of so many Black Americans. As our team has reflected on the tragic losses of life, including the high-profile cases of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery that have catalyzed the current unrest, we want to acknowledge the anger and frustration many in our community experience on a regular basis. We understand that the challenges facing our country go beyond poor law enforcement practices and police brutality. We believe the recent events stem from long-standing and unacceptable disparities in our educational, health, and economic systems for communities of color, disparities reinforced by racism and prejudice, and amplified by the coronavirus pandemic over the last few months.

Bridges Fund Management was founded in 2002 in response to the growing wealth gap in the United Kingdom, with an explicit aim of investing in businesses that are located in or serve underserved communities to stimulate economic opportunity. In 2014, when we launched Bridges in the United States, we shared the same commitment to investing in underserved communities in the areas of health & wellness, education & skills and sustainability. With support from investors our investment thesis has been to widen access to affordable, high-quality health, education or environmental services in low to moderate income communities while creating decent full and part-time jobs.

Our commitment, however, did not include an explicit racial equity lens, and it is something that we as a global team can and should do better at. We will work with our portfolio companies to go beyond the data that we collect on employee demographics to build more racially diverse boards and teams. We will work harder at identifying entrepreneurs of color who are looking for a mission-aligned growth capital. We will continue to work to recruit and promote diversity within our own team.

And we will focus the work of the Bridges Impact Foundation’s field-building initiatives towards the goal of diverse and inclusive impact investing sector in the United States. The Foundation helped catalyze Impact Capital Mangers (ICM), a diverse network of market-rate managers, which has just launched the Mosaic Fellowship for students of color. And we co-sponsor the MBA Impact Investment Network and Training (the MIINT) with Wharton, where we are working to build a diverse pipeline of impact investors for the sector.

We recognize that, given our small size, Bridges alone cannot solve these systemic problems. But as impact-driven investors, we have both an opportunity and an obligation to drive positive change and build a more inclusive future. As global leader in the field of impact investing, we have to do more: on our teams, with our funds, with the companies we invest in, with the teams they employ, and with the customers and communities they serve.

Both professionally and personally, the Bridges team wants to express our solidarity with all those exercising their right to peaceful protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, both in the U.S. and the UK.

The Bridges Team