Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Christopher Trinetti, lead at IIE.VC.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Chris! Tell me, what challenges are you addressing through your organization?
Chris: It’s great to be here, Spiffy! Emerging venture capital fund managers, especially diverse fund managers, face more significant challenges than established fund managers related to starting, raising, and managing funds. One of the greatest challenges they face is access to capital or lack thereof. Through IIE.VC, I am working to increase access to capital for diverse emerging fund managers. Our mission is to help billions of dollars of public, private, and philanthropic capital reach diverse emerging fund managers by 2025.
Spiffy: Very inspiring! What motivated you to do it?
Chris: As we speak, dozens of states and tribal territories across the United States are implementing venture capital programs—many of which are focused on investing in diverse emerging fund managers. This capital is coming from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which is a USD ten billion small business capital access program from the Treasury Department. One-third of those dollars (about USD three billion) are going to venture capital investments, but like with any ambitious initiative, there are challenges—the biggest one being the one-to-one match capital requirement. Emerging managers are required to raise one private dollar for every one public dollar, and do so during a very difficult fundraising environment. Cue—IIE.VC.
Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Chris: We are working to tangibly, meaningfully, and sustainably bridge the racial and gender wealth gap by helping billions of public, private, and philanthropic capital reach diverse emerging fund managers. More capital for more diverse investors means more investment for diverse entrepreneurs and the communities they reside and serve.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience or community?
Chris: On October 19, 2023, IIE.VC convened nearly 100 cross-sector leaders, including limited partners, emerging venture capital fund managers, state and federal government officials, and philanthropic and nonprofit leaders, who gathered in New York City. Our objective was to delve deep into the state of the venture capital industry, spotlighting the role of diverse emerging fund managers. Never before has a group of dozens of cross-sector leaders gathered to discuss the state of the venture capital industry with a focus on diverse emerging fund managers.
Spiffy: That’s amazing! Tell me about an inspiring startup that your organization has helped to advance its impact.
Chris: We are currently working with the state of California to support their first venture capital fund investment into Unshackled Ventures. IIE.VC will provide Unshackled with grant capital and technical assistance to support fund management post-SSBCI award. Unshackled Ventures provides the “friends and family” capital immigrant teams often need. They sponsor visas, provide full immigration support, and a community of resources, removing obstacles to help immigrant entrepreneurs succeed faster.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Chris: We live in a polarized and hyper-individualistic nation. Our world needs more people and organizations, like IIE.VC and JumpStart, which break down silos and blur lines between public, private, and philanthropic sectors.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Chris—it’s been an honor!
Christopher Trinetti works at the intersection of capital, policy, and economic development. As a trusted advisor, he counsels leaders across public, private, and philanthropic sectors, steering them toward strategic investment, sustainable economic development, and measurable impact. He works with a diverse group of stakeholders, including venture capital firms, family offices, high-growth startups, nonprofits, universities, government agencies, and real estate firms. Chris leads IIE.VC, the venture capital vertical for the Initiative for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (IIE), a national public-private-philanthropic collaboration to increase access to capital for diverse fund managers and entrepreneurs. He also serves as a senior advisor at JumpStart. (First published on the Ladderworks website on November 22, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.