David Zapol ’05: Investors’ Circle Foundation
David Zapol, a dual degree MBA/Masters of Public Health student, received a CORPS fellowship to work with Investors’ Circle Foundation, the research and educational arm of Investors’ Circle (IC). IC is a social venture capital intermediary that supports early stage sustainable business ventures. IC members and active affiliates are high net worth individuals, professional venture capitalists, family offices and foundations. “Government and granting agencies are obvious sources of funding on initiatives to improve public health and nutrition, but I was interested to see how capital markets could impact this area,” he says.
Zapol assisted the foundation in examining new financing vehicles to fund local, sustainable and organic food ventures. He gathered and analyzed feedback from workshops with social entrepreneurs working in this area. “I had the opportunity to hear about the ongoing victories of CEOs from firms like Stonyfield, Ben and Jerry’s and Tom’s of Maine,” he says.
Zapol also designed research and survey approaches to assess the need for financing alternatives. “Its pretty clear that agriculture has fallen out of favor with the finance world and we don’t know why,” he says, “While there are hoards of investment banking reports on Whole Foods, financiers know very little about the rest of the supply chain, and firms that provide essential functions in the food system often have limited access to capital. Nutritional benefits from family farms have been lost as industrial farms and monocrops have become ubiquitous. The goal is to create a sustainable food system.”
This semester Zapol has continued working with IC to conduct the survey he designed this summer. “We’re keen to learn what the current generation of entrepreneurs and investors are looking for, and where there are opportunities to increase the number of deals that with positive social, environmental and financial returns.”