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The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, a Columbia Business School program that provides seed grants to nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid early-stage social and environmental ventures, has awarded seed grants to four startups in its eighth funding cycle this spring. The growing portfolio of 30 ventures are either led by Columbia University students, alumni, faculty or researchers, or advised by Columbia University faculty or researchers.
The founding teams of these ventures represent diverse schools across Columbia University, including the portfolio’s first entrepreneur from Teacher’s College and others such as the School of International and Public Affairs, the Business School, the Law School, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia College, Barnard College, the Earth Institute, and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Selected entrepreneurs gain funding and access to a wide variety of connections and resources available through the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and Columbia Business School.
The following Tamer Fund for Social Venture awardees were selected after their participation in an application screening round, a due diligence process with student teams from a Columbia Business School course, and a final pitch to the fund’s Investment Board:
Dollaride, co-founded by Su Sanni and Chris Coles and advised by Professor Eric Goldwyn, ’17GSAPP PhD ’12GSAPP, enables people in transit deserts to access public transit through a local network of dollar van drivers.
Ilara Health, founded by Emilian Popa, ’10BUS, brings accurate and affordable diagnostics to rural Africans through miniature, AI-powered diagnostic devices that are integrated via a proprietary technology platform and distributed directly to primary care doctors.
Kaoun, co-founded by Rostom Bouazizi, ’19CC, Anis Kallel, and Nebras Jemel, enables underbanked individuals and businesses access to financial services through their first product called Flouci, which allows users to open bank accounts remotely and access instant transfer, payment, and credit services.
Saving 9, co-founded by Usama Javed Mirza, ’17TC, and Ovais Siddiqui, focuses on empowering rural communities with basic first aid literacy and building systems that save lives in emergencies.
Chris Coles, co-founder of Dollaride, has been previously justice-involved. He spoke about how joining the center’s Tamer Fund for Social Ventures portfolio allows him to redeem his past and pursue his interest in technology and engineering. “Although my times at Columbia were marked by some of the most challenging in my life, I’m happy that my story of redemption and perseverance has inspired the center to believe and invest in Dollaride. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, my justice-involvement proved to be an opportunity because it led me to technology, engineering, and realizing my personal passion and legacy. I hope my story serves as a reminder that hard work, dedication, and perseverance pay off.”
Through various justice-related initiatives, the University is committed to support all members of the Columbia community, including those formerly incarcerated, who are encouraged to apply to the fund. Learn more about related programs such as the ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP) at Columbia Business School here.
For more information about the social ventures and their founders, visit: https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/socialenterprise/socialventures#portfolio
Find out about the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures and the online application at: https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/socialenterprise/socialventures#criteria
Application Deadlines: August 15 and March 1, annually
About the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures
Established in 2015, the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures provides seed grants of up to $25,000 to early-stage nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid social and environmental ventures. In addition to funding, the ventures gain access to a wide variety of resources and connections available through the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures was made possible by a generous donation by Tony and Sandra Tamer.