Zeal Capital Partners, a venture capital firm dedicated to narrowing the wealth and skills gaps by investing in early-stage tech-enabled businesses across the financial technology and future of work sectors, today announced that it has raised $62.1 million, topping its initial $50 million goal. Its funding was led by Truist Ventures and PayPal.
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Nasir Qadree, third from left, is founder and managing partner of Zeal Capital Partners. Team members include, from left to right, Andy Will, senior associate; Nicole Wardlaw, analyst; Nicole West, executive in residence, fintech; and Jason Green, executive in residence, Future of Work. (Photo: Business Wire)
Zeal Fund I is one of the largest first-time funds for any solo general partner. Nasir Qadree, founder and first-time fund manager, brings extensive venture capital and domain expertise specific to Zeal’s sector focus areas.
“There has been significant underinvestment in postsecondary education, workforce, and financial services, and as a result, wealth disparities have risen—leaving many Americans behind,” says Qadree. “We have an opportunity to accelerate innovative, early stage projects so that they can both reduce these disparities and drive high returns. Zeal aspires to be a true catalyst for economic equity, which it plans to achieve through 25–30 investments over the next four years.”
Zeal is pioneering the concept of Inclusive Investing™, a new investment discipline that allows the firm to cast a targeted, yet wide, net when sourcing companies which positions Zeal to reap outsized returns. Moreover, all portfolio companies sign a diversity pledge, commit to having diverse management teams (current or potential), align investments with global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and participate in Zeal’s Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) Working Group.
“Truist Ventures is committed to investing in and supporting diverse founders, while delivering access to innovative solutions for our clients. We’re proudly embarking on the next phase of our journey by making a meaningful investment in a fund that will enable us to provide support at scale,” says Vanessa Vreeland, head of Truist Ventures. “We’re excited to partner with Nasir Qadree and the Zeal Capital Team in executing on the Inclusive Investing™ strategy, which is aligned with our own purpose and commitment to advancing economic empowerment of communities of color and those who are underserved.”
In addition to Truist Ventures and PayPal, other initial investors include Synchrony, Skoll Foundation, Hampton University Endowment, Bank of America, Foot Locker Inc., RockCreek, Society for Human Resource Management, Southern New Hampshire University and Gary Community Investments, among others. This cadre of limited partners underscores Zeal’s Inclusive Investing™ thesis and the increased value proposition of the portfolio companies.
“Zeal Capital stood out to PayPal because of our shared belief that access to financial services creates opportunity,” says Peter Sanborn, managing partner, PayPal Ventures. “PayPal made a commitment to fight racial economic inequality, and venture capital funding is a key component of that. Through our investment in Zeal, we hope to empower the next generation of diverse financial services entrepreneurs.”
Since its first close in October 2020, Zeal has invested in five technology companies focused on closing equity gaps. Zeal’s sourcing capability is one of its core differentiators and its growing portfolio reflects this fact with investments in often overlooked companies that are not located in VC hotbeds.
“We are grateful to our strategic investors,” says Qadree. “Their backing of our Inclusive Investing™ strategy and the opportunity it presents validates why Zeal’s unique approach is timely and that it is untapped. Their alignment with our mission increases our value proposition when exploring partnerships with founders and ensures we can scale our reach. We also could not have exceeded our fundraising goal without the tireless efforts of the Zeal team that stands behind our vision.”
Zeal Capital Partners
Zeal Capital Partners is a venture capital firm based in Washington, D.C. that is focused on turbocharging economic mobility with its market-backed Inclusive Investing™ discipline. It does this by investing in diverse management teams that are reimagining the building blocks of wealth, from education to employment to financial health. Learn more at www.zealvc.co.