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.
Our investments aim to improve outcomes for workers in global supply chains and other marginalized populations, by supporting early-stage businesses whose products and services provide workers with the means to engage their rights, and which improve visibility in supply chains for brands and retailers, investors, employers, workers themselves and other stakeholders.
We back interventions that can achieve three dimensions of performance: impact for workers, at scale, while providing sustained revenue. Impact for workers is intentionally first in this list; we only align with investment opportunities that have potential for – or have demonstrated – high-quality impact. Of course, this is a rapidly changing space, and Working Capital balances the quality of portfolio companies’ impact with commercial potential.