We are thrilled to announce that Sphera has acquired a WCIF portfolio company, SupplyShift. SupplyShift has established itself as a leader in supply chain sustainability, helping corporates map and operate an ethical supply chain. The acquisition by Sphera is both validation of Supply Shift’s unique value proposition as well as an amazing opportunity for the company to scale its impact to the next level as it strives to transform ethical supply chain practices globally.
Our initial investment in SupplyShift dates back to the Working Capital Fund’s inception in 2018 within The Omidyar Group’s human rights-focused foundation, Humanity United. We were introduced to SupplyShift by a contact working on Humanity United’s renewable energy strategies in South Sudan. We met with the co-founders Alex Gershenson and Jamie Barsimantov and were immediately struck by the alignment in our visions. We both recognized that until corporations know where products are made – and can gather supplier-level ESG data – they will remain unable to meaningfully address the systemic pressures of labor exploitation woven into global supply chains.
Back in 2018, we articulated the following thesis in our investment memo: “…supply chain mapping is a promising tool for multinationals to generate and act on additional visibility into the most challenging parts of working conditions in their supply chains. Establishing an investment in this category is a key pillar of our transparency thesis.” At the time, most corporations had little insight into their extended supply chain, unable to identify suppliers past the first tier. The few corporations that managed to collect this information, were still unable to align their supplier operations to their broader sustainability and labor rights objectives. SupplyShift offered a way to map, manage, and communicate with large supplier networks. Their cascading survey technology used a multi-tenant architecture to enable reporting and communication between brands and their supplier base.
Since we invested, SupplyShift has grown to work with leading brands and serve as the backbone for The Sustainability Consortium’s THESIS platform. It built a supplier network of over 100,000 suppliers where buyers and suppliers not only share information but also engage to eliminate labor risk and facilitate compliance. We continue to believe in the business opportunity and impact proposition that SupplyShift offers.
Regulatory changes and further innovations have begun to transform what is possible. New regulations driving mandatory supply chain due diligence and reporting coming from Europe (German Supply Chain Act, EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, etc) and other parts of the world are now making the need to know what is going on in your extended supply chain a requirement. Digitization of supply chains has begun to create easier availability of vast swaths of information that can be relied on for supply chain intelligence and assess sustainability and labor rights risks within the supplier base.
SupplyShift is poised to take advantage of these trends through its unique interactive mechanism between buyers and sellers. After all, the ultimate goal is not only to know where risk resides in your supply chain but to do something about it. SupplyShift’s integration into Sphera is a tremendous opportunity to reach new audiences helping drive corporate practice beyond risk awareness towards action. As an impact fund, that aims to drive both financial returns and amplify impact, we could not be more proud of the journey Alex and Jamie have undertaken.