Japan’s first Venture Philanthropy fund launched


January 7, 2015


Japan’s Social Investment Partners has launched a Japan Venture Philanthropy Fund (JVPF), Japan’s first full scale venture philanthropy fund, under the Nippon Foundation. The fund will provide financial and non-financial support to organisations in the country. 

Ken Ito, AVPN’s advisor in Japan and a member of the fund’s board, told AVPNews that the fund focuses on “the development of next generation issues such as education, youth employment, childcare, women’s proactive participation in society as well as the revitalisation of local communities”. He added that the fund also nurtures and develops leaders in these fields of activity.

JVPF is currently in the due diligence process and is planning to announce its first investment by the end of 2013. While there have been experimental venture philanthropy funds such as Social Venture Partners Tokyo, those funds have been sized at only US$10,000-US$20,000 investment per investee, while JVPF will look to invest as much as US$300,000 per investee. Its initial capital is 100million yen (US$1.05million), with more funding to be raised after the launch to support the expansion in their activities. It will also support investees by providing them advice in strategy building, marketing, public communication, governance, internal controls and performance evaluation in the area of social impact.

Social Investment Partners said its support will continue for multiple years and its partner organisations will provide pro-bono services in strategic consulting, legal and public communication services and the like. Social Investment Partners’ fund will potentially invest in and provide grants to both non-profit organisations and corporations, which will be selected on the basis of the social impact created by their solutions, the growth potential of the businesses and the leadership and capability of the management.

The fund is headed by Tomoya Shiraishi, who is the chief executive officer. Tomoya is the former Japan representative at private equity firm Permira Advisors and is currently advisor to the Tohoku Kyoeki Investment Fund.

“The practice of venture philanthropy was developed in Europe and United States and philanthropists have been providing support to SPOs with mid to long term commitments in a capacity of professional expertise,” Tomoya said in a statement.

He added that in Japan, there are many social enterprises which provide solutions to social issues through business activities rather than traditional charity. “However, many of them are struggling for growth due to shortage of management resources. We aim to build an ecosystem to support the growth of these organisations,” he added.

While JVPF is a venture philanthropy fund, it is not focused on impact investing. However, according to Ken, there is increasing interest in the area of impact investing in Japan. He said that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is presently conducting research on how they can start an impact investing programme.

Other members on the board of the fund include Kazushige Kobayashi, a managing director at Capital Dynamics; Masaru Shibata, partner at Crosspoint Advisors; Daisuke Takatuski, director at Carlyle Japan; Hiroshi Nonomiya, partner at Crosspoint Advisors; and Toru Mio, chief executive at Mio and Company.For the press release of the SIP launch, please access here.

About Author
Alfred Poon
Alfred Poon Technology Lead AVPN

Alfred Poon is Technology Lead of AVPN’s Knowledge Centre.

He is a geek by nature, adman by passion, and holds a Masters in Nonprofit Communications from Indiana University. Alfred spends his time building communications infrastructure that brings people together. Prior to joining AVPN, Alfred has consulted for Social Purpose Organisations in over thirty countries, bringing his unconventional mix of nimble technology to enable data driven communications.