New investment fund focuses on Asian Pacific Islander entrepreneurs

Elvin Lai, Asian Business Association San Diego (ABASD) board member; Lauren Grattan, Mission Driven Finance co-founder; Kent Lee, ABASD board member; and Louie Nguyen, chief investment officer of Mission Driven Finance.
Elvin Lai, Asian Business Association San Diego (ABASD) board member; Lauren Grattan, Mission Driven Finance co-founder; Kent Lee, ABASD board member; and Louie Nguyen, chief investment officer of Mission Driven Finance.
(Courtesy)

Mission Driven Finance has partnered with the Asian Business Association San Diego to launch the region’s first investment fund focused on Asian Pacific Islander entrepreneurs.

The fund seeks to provide financing for San Diego’s Asian Pacific Islander (API) community-owned small businesses and nonprofits, funding that may not otherwise be available through traditional means.

“For nearly 30 years, the Asian Business Association San Diego has helped local businesses grow and succeed through technical assistance, mentorship, advocacy and access to capital,” said Jason Paguio, president and CEO of the association in a release. “The AdvanceAPI Fund furthers our mission of ensuring we’re supporting everyone in our community, especially those most in need and some traditionally seen as unbankable. We’re looking forward to helping grow our region’s small businesses with Mission Driven Finance.”

Mission Driven Finance is an impact investment firm founded in 2016 by a team of finance and philanthropic leaders with the aim of building a financial system that ensures good businesses have access to sufficient, affordable capital.

The firm is all about investing in overlooked communities and the partnership is the perfect way to support San Diego’s API community, “long been underestimated for its economic strength and vitality,” said Lauren Grattan, co-founder and director of community engagement for Mission Driven Finance.

Mission Driven’s Chief Investment Officer Louie Nguyen came up with the idea for the fund.

“We are trying to reach out to Asian entrepreneurs who are doing good for their communities and need capital to expand. We hope to get the word out to as many people as we can,” said Nguyen, a Carmel Valley resident for over 20 years and Del Mar Heights School parent to Paloma and Naomi.

Through the fund, growing companies with API leadership or serving the API community can get access to capital in a size that’s hard to come by—$100,000 up to $700,000—as well as hands-on support and increased local and national exposure. Nguyen hopes that they can remove that barrier to capital within the community that is only growing in numbers and has recently faced some challenges. There are some 30,000 Asian Pacific Islander-owned businesses in the county and some have said that scares about the coronavirus have slowed trade.

Nguyen recently participated in a walk to promote Asian-owned businesses in the Convoy District with the Asian Business Association, San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, encouraging people to continue to support the small business community.

“As a small business owner in the San Diego region, I understand what a significant positive impact this brings to our community,” said Robert Ito, a local infill affordable and market-rate housing developer. “I’ve seen how critical access to capital is for our community. I’m very excited for this opportunity to invest in my fellow API leaders.”

For more information about the AdvanceAPI Fund, contact Mission Driven Finance at louie@missiondrivenfinance.com

-Karen Billing


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