MassMutual launches $100M fund to invest in diverse founders

Insurance company MassMutual announced Thursday the launch of a new impact investing MM Catalyst Fund of $100 million. The money will be used to continue investing in Massachusetts-based diverse-led companies. It’s close to finishing the deployment of its first MM Catalyst Fund of $50 million, which launched two years ago and has so far invested in 16 businesses throughout the state.

This second MM Catalyst fund will continue with the first fund’s mission of focusing on seed to Series B investments within Black-led startups as well as those from rural communities and other historically overlooked backgrounds. The fund will also selectively invest nationwide alongside fund managers at MassMutual’s First Fund Initiative, which focuses on investing in Black, Latino and Indigenous-led businesses across the U.S. and Canada.

The latest MM Catalyst Fund and the First Fund Initiative bring MassMutual’s impact investment pledge for overlooked founders to $300 million, the institution told TechCrunch+. The efforts of MassMutual are a case study on how LPs and other investors can adjust themselves to better commit toward backing diverse funds and fund managers.

Liz Roberts, the company’s head of impact investments, said that MassMutual looked at the facts: The Black, Indigenous and Latino communities make up more than a third of the U.S. population. Less than 5% of all VCs identify as Black or Latino, and, at the same time, less than 5% of all VC funds are allocated to Black and Latino founders.