Angel Fund, Kiva Zip invest in local startups

by Taylor Morris

Executive Staff

The Sewanee Angel Fund provides an opportunity to benefit local business and learn about applied economics. Led by Newton Law (C’15) and Sam Taussig (C’15), the Angel Fund group invests in startup companies in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia to assist in job creation and economic growth. The fund began with contributions from Sewanee alumni totaling $110,000, and the group hopes to increase the fund over as a result of their investments over the next three to four years. Thus far, the Angel Fund has invested in five companies that they deemed to show promise, and the students hope to reap benefits for themselves and the community as a result.

The Kiva Zip program complements the Angel Fund as well as the already established Sewanee-Kiva Initiative, which provides loans to underprivileged entrepreneurs internationally. Kiva Zip focuses on company owners within a 50 mile radius from Sewanee. “Many of the same skills needed in Angel Investing are also utilized for Kiva Zip,” said Taussig, “ideas, attitudes, and skills all have to be evaluated with respect to the overall question of ‘is there a market for this’?” As Kiva Trustees, Taussig and Law meet with prospective lenders to ensure investing in their business economically wise for everyone; approved lenders are then crowd-funded through Kiva.org, a nonprofit microfinance organization that aims to help alleviate poverty on a worldwide scale.

Angel Investing and Kiva Zip not only serve as a form of outreach in helping less fortunate entrepreneurs, but also as a way for Sewanee students interested in economics to participate in real-life applications of what they learn about in class. Law says the movements are, “Looking toward growing, we want everyone to know that we’re not a bunch of Wolves of Wall Street…Sewanee is in a unique position to grant financial support to communities that also apply our liberal arts skills.”

For more information about the Sewanee Angel Fund, see the Sewanee Angel Fund Facebook page, or email angelfund@sewanee.edu. The Kiva Zip program is led by Taussig, tausssr0@sewanee.edu/, while Sewanee-Kiva Initiative is directed by Taylor Morris, morrita0@sewanee.edu.

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