I see three stacked businesses that make up the Symbiotic Fund.

 

At the top is the equity fund we have been scoping out already; doing deals from $250,000 to $1-2 million with 40 percent of the total raised for this portion set aside for follow on. Investments fitting in with our trifold focus of food and ag, forestry and forest products, and indigenous and local, place based culture linked to the first two. Together, we are investing in community resilience.

 

The two other pieces of the company would be a seed fund, hopefully in the Village Capital network, and an accelerator with many aspects borrowed and learned from Echoing Green and the Unreasonable Institute. The accelerator would be for social entrepreneurs working in the vertical sectors where our fund would invest. It’s likely to come online before the seed fund, which needs capacity dollars to become real, either from public funds, corporate sponsorship or philanthropic grants, all of which typically take time to bring together.

 

What we are not: the Symbiotic Fund is not a typical, fixed time of exit venture fund, which takes its money out whether or not its good for the company, or the right time for the highest, long term financial return for investors. Arbitrary sell by dates for deeply relational investee, investor engagements where scalable impact, rather than rapid high margin capital return is the goal are a total mismatch.

What is a fit is investing together with the entrepreneur toward a shared future.

That means we can fund capacity in the way a seven year venture fund can not.

 

But a totally open ended time frame is hard to focus on. I propose that Symbiotic Fund has a 14 year window. Just like Joseph had 14 years managing the kingdom for the Pharoah in Egypt. Investing and operating within a timeline of slightly more than one generation, enough to go through, say, seven good years and seven bad years, but managing with the goal to show the highest blended value impact in year 14. Richer, more biodiverse soil, cleaner streams and rivers, enhanced livelihoods in the communities in which our companies work and have an impact.

 

It does not mean that investors have to get out of the fund at that point in time, or that they necessarily need to feel obliged to reinvest. It could be that the fund has accomplished it’s goal and should splinter into a handful or dozens of enterprises.

 

The broad community of stakeholders, from indigenous people to local rural people in the Southern Appalachians who have been effected by the fund, to its investors, to the entrepreneurs who have been invested in and participated in the impact and financial return of the Symbiotic Fund, to the founders of the holding company and their heirs will have to decide what happens to the entity in a way that makes sense.

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