The Enterprise Center Celebrates Launch of Innovate Capital Growth Fund

group photo of Innovate Capital team & investors

Innovate Capital is a federally licensed Unleveraged Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) focused specifically on minority and women-owned businesses

PHILADELPHIA – The Enterprise Center today celebrated the launch of the Innovate Capital Growth Fund, a licensed Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) as designated by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Innovate Capital is a new for-profit fund, focused exclusively on investing growth equity capital in minority and women-owned businesses.

“The SBA’s SBIC program was founded in 1958 and has been one of the most successful federal programs ever for the benefit of US small businesses,” said Della Clark, President of The Enterprise Center, and a founding partner of Innovate Capital. “But these benefits have not always flowed to minority and women-owned businesses. This is due primarily to structural inequities and a lack of access to generational wealth, especially for business owners of color. Our fund is aimed directly at this problem, providing capital for these businesses to scale operations and unlock generational wealth for themselves. We expect to capitalize on the unprecedented commitments made by major corporations and foundations to support minority and women-owned businesses by connecting capital to these substantial opportunities.”

At a launch event held in Philadelphia, The Enterprise Center leadership was joined by federal representatives from SBA, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), local elected officials and leaders from some of the largest corporate and financial institutions in the region to celebrate this historic milestone. With the launch of Innovate Capital Growth Fund, The Enterprise Center becomes the first MBDA Business Center in the country to have both a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and an SBIC under one roof.

“Under SBA Administrator Guzman’s leadership, the SBA has delivered billions of dollars in private financing to small businesses through our SBIC network,” said Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator for the SBA’s Office of Investment & Innovation. “Access to this capital helps more entrepreneurs seize the opportunities of our nation’s growing recovery and realize their American dream of starting and growing a successful business. The addition of Innovate Capital Growth Fund as a licensed SBIC marks a demonstration of the SBA’s commitment to license SBICs focused on enabling access to capital for minority and women-owned small businesses.”

“The MBDA is committed to the hard work of enabling businesses to raise equity capital. This is a historic achievement for a woman-led, minority venture capital fund – a type of financing not easily obtainable for many minority businesses,” said Miguel Estién, MBDA Acting National Director. “We’re excited to see the Philadelphia MBDA Business Center become the first SBIC within our network. It is our hope that this fund creates a blueprint and acts as a catalyst for other minority investment funds to pursue SBIC licenses.” 

The fund’s current commitments of approximately $14 million are from some of the largest companies, institutions, and banks in the region, as well as support from some of the largest private equity groups based in Philadelphia. Institutional investors who are committed to the first round of funding for Innovate Capital include Bank of America, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Customers Bank, Darco Capital LP, Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund, Firstrust Bank, Forman Family Foundation, Halloran Philanthropies, Independence Blue Cross, NewSpring Capital, Spring Point Partners, Republic Bank, Univest Bank & Trust, University of Pennsylvania, and The Enterprise Center.

“Independence has a long track record of buying from and supporting diverse businesses, but helping minority- and women-owned companies access capital is critical to setting them on an equal footing for growth and success,” said Gregory E. Deavens, President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross. “We’re proud to have our Foundation invest in the Innovate Capital Fund, and because it’s sponsored by The Enterprise Center, we know that the Fund will have a transformative impact in Philadelphia and beyond.”

“As part of our ongoing commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, we’ve dedicated $350 million to minority- and women-led companies through capital investment by mission-focused venture funds,” said Jim Dever, President, Bank of America Greater Philadelphia. “Our investment in the Innovate Capital Growth Fund will help increase access to funding and growth opportunities for minority-led businesses and demonstrates our commitment to Greater Philadelphia and the communities we serve.”

“The Forman Family Foundation is proud to be one of the initial investors in the Innovate Growth Capital Fund, part of our $10 million commitment to increase equity and access to capital for minority and female managers and entrepreneurs,” said Michael Forman, Chairman and CEO of FS Investments and co-founder of the Forman Family Foundation. 

“CHOP is pleased to support the Innovate Capital Growth Fund,” said Madeline Bell, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We have worked closely with The Enterprise Center for many years, and we are pleased to support this important effort to provide growth opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. It will go a long way towards creating the jobs associated with economic stability – ultimately leading to better health outcomes in Philadelphia and communities throughout the region.”

Della Clark will serve as a managing partner of the fund. Della is joined by managing partner Bob Palmer, formerly a managing director of CMS Mezzanine, who brings more than 30 years of experience in banking and private equity. A third managing partner, Blessy Thomas, adds her experience in working on growth strategies with major corporations.

“I am gratified by the overwhelming support we have received from the Philadelphia business and investment community,” said Clark. “Troutman Pepper has been with us since the beginning of the idea of Innovate, lending not only the necessary legal expertise but also creativity, perseverance, and support to help take that idea to reality. Steve Hobman from Radnor-based New Spring Capital also has been an early supporter of our efforts and has been integral to our success in achieving this vision. We hope that other institutional investors will join us as the fund seeks to raise $50 million to address the capital gap faced by numerous minority and women-owned businesses in the region.”

The fund will target growth equity investments exclusively in minority or women-owned businesses throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with revenues between $2-20 million. Innovate Capital will partner with The Enterprise Center and its 30 years of expertise in procurement for minority-owned businesses, connecting capital to contract and acquisition opportunities to accelerate their growth.


More information on Innovate Capital can be found here: