Origin & Approach
The Supply Chain Innovation Fund
What Makes Us Unique
WORKING CAPITAL IS A DIFFERENTIATED INVESTMENT PLATFORM, UNIQUELY FOCUSED ON DELIVERING IMPROVEMENTS IN LABOR RIGHTS
At Working Capital, we identify opportunities to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative, market-based solutions to meet the growing corporate need to protect vulnerable workers and source responsibly. To do this, we invest in early-stage companies led by bold, inspiring entrepreneurs.
We are open to new possibilities and eager to explore emerging, disruptive technologies that can help companies improve working conditions in their global supply chains. We hope to hear from entrepreneurs with innovative ideas about how we can collaborate to build a better, more responsible future.
The Fund is operating and investing in a space within venture capital and technology innovation that is experiencing significant growth, increased market opportunity, and strong investment tailwinds.
The Working Capital Innovation Fund was established in 2017 with a unique mission and a highly-differentiated thesis about how to support systemic improvements in respect for labor rights. Supply chains are rife with labor risk, including widespread forced and child labor, underpayment of wages, unsafe workplaces, and restrictions on worker organizing. The private sector faces increasing pressure to understand and address these risks in their operations and extended supply chains, driven by tightening legal requirements in the US and Europe. At the same time, the present toolkit available to brands, retailers, and their suppliers presents inadequate for this task. Social audits are the intervention most frequently arrayed against supply chain labor rights at a large scale, yet they suffer from serious credibility and efficacy questions. Working Capital is thus uniquely situated to offer an alternative, as it seeks to invest in companies that provide tools which brands, retailers, and suppliers can use to improve their visibility into supply chain risk, provide preferences for high performing suppliers, and engage workers in an effort to source responsibly.
Working Capital is an early-stage venture fund that invests in scalable innovations to meet the growing corporate demand for more transparent and ethical supply chains—addressing the urgent need to protect vulnerable workers and source responsibly. It was initially incubated by Humanity United, which is founded by The Omidyar Group, a diverse collection of independent organizations and initiatives.
We designed the Fund to invest in categories of intervention where there is a significant opportunity for impact, some corporate expenditure, and deal flow from impact-oriented entrepreneurs. These include Transparency and Traceability, Risk Assessment, Ethical Sourcing, Responsible Recruitment’’and Worker Engagement. Our intent is to create a portfolio that generates evidence for the effectiveness and impact of these various types of interventions, and thus helps build a market for impactful companies.
Gender remains a focus for our investment decision-making and nonfinancial support for portfolio companies. Still, data that would indicate the gender-specific outcomes or impacts for workers remains extremely difficult to access.