A new venture fund that invests in innovations to advance ethical supply chains has raised $25.2 million.
Working Capital passed the 25 million mark thanks to $2.5 million in contributions from Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and Zalando, one of Europe’s leading online fashion platforms.
Other major partners in the fund include Humanity United, Walmart Foundation, C&A Foundation, Stardust Equity, Open Society Foundations (Soros Economic Development Fund), The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund, and The Walt Disney Company. The UK’s Department of International Development has also provided Working Capital with “Sidecar” grant funding for pre-investment and seed-stage interventions.
A press release from Working Capital outlines the fund’s goals:
Since its launch earlier this year, Working Capital has invested in companies that leverage technology to bring visibility and accountability to supply chains and increased agency for workers.
Portfolio companies include Provenance, a blockchain platform enabling traceability; Ulula, a software and data analytics platform to engage workers; and QuizRR, an EdTech company which offers training solutions to advance worker knowledge and corporate accountability, and Sundar, an ethical sourcing platform that is transforming the fashion supply chain.
Working Capital Fund is exploring how emerging technologies such as machine learning, sensors and interconnected Internet of Things solutions can be brought to bear on supply chain labor rights risks.
“As leaders in their respective industries, both CIFF and Zalando will bring a unique perspective and further strengthen Working Capital’s partnership structure,” said Ed Marcum, Working Capital managing director. “The support of each of our partners signals an increased understanding that capital must be allocated to help develop efforts to better protect vulnerable workers.”
CIFF CEO Kate Hampton added that “Worldwide, 152 million children are victims of child labor, almost half of them working in hazardous conditions. CIFF is proud to partner with Working Capital to develop innovative solutions for making supply chains more transparent, ethical and viable.”
Zalando voiced its support for Working Capital as well, expressing optimism that the fund will provide digital solutions to supply chain abuses.
“The Program offers visibility, funding, and expertise to industry players that use digital technology to increase supply chain transparency,” said Dennis Hoenig-Ohnsorg, Team Lead Corporate Responsibility at Zalando At Zalando.
“We believe tech can be a positive force in the industry and focus our engagement in areas where we can have a systemic impact.”