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Columbia Business School Alum Brings Tech to Underserved Communities

Catching up with Kesha Cash

In America — especially during campaign seasons — we’re told that the interests of Wall Street and Main Street are diametrically opposed. Impact America Fund, founded by Kesha Cash ’10BUS, offers a flipped perspective and is working to change that dynamic. Impact America, structured like a traditional venture fund, invests in software and tech-enabled companies that are disrupting shadow economies and archaic industries that serve low and moderate income Americans.

Kesha had worked for well-known Wall Street names like Merrill Lynch before founding Impact America, but her heart was with the underserved communities and entrepreneurs who cared about social and economic change. During Hurricane Katrina, she helped manage a $350 million federal claim filed by New Orleans residents displaced by the storm. She also worked in the UK at Bridges Ventures, a $500M impact investing fund, during her business school summer. And shortly thereafter, she partnered with Josh Mailman to launch Jalia Ventures, an investment initiative that focused on mission-driven businesses managed by entrepreneurs of color.

Now focused full-time on Impact America, Kesha has steered the portfolio to create efficiencies and transparencies in local, low and moderate income economies, and their investment capital has already supported one of these companies towards an amazing accomplishment. Mayvenn, an online direct sales platform that enables independent hair stylists to generate additional income, has recently raised $10 million in Series A funding. The Series A round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, the investment firm co-founded by Columbia alum Ben Horowitz (’88 CC).

Mayvenn disrupts the system by which most Black women in America buy hair extensions and hair products, empowering hair stylists with online tools to sell these products directly rather than working within a bizarrely complicated supply chain. The company presents a great example of efforts to help communities and individuals who have been underserved by both the tech and finance industries. For more information on the Impact America Fund and the companies they invest in, hear Kesha Cash talk about it on Andreessen Horowitz’s podcast.

 

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