Siebert Williams Shank, Microsoft create impact investment fund

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Siebert Williams Shank & Co. has formed the Clear Vision Impact Fund LLC, with an initial $25 million investment from Microsoft Corp., the firm said on Thursday.

The fund has a target size of $250 million and will invest in small and medium-sized businesses. It aims to maximize social impact by helping minority- and women-owned business enterprises access capital.

“We are extremely pleased to have Microsoft’s critical support in delivering the commercial and social resources necessary to strengthen underperforming communities,” said Chris Williams, SWS chairman.

Chris Williams, Chairman of Siebert Williams Shank & Co.

“Our role in helping to implement Microsoft’s vision of community support is a recognition of the vital role that small businesses play in their communities, particularly during this period of widespread economic distress,” he said.

The partnership between SWS and Microsoft aims to help targeted firms get access to monies they may have previously been denied so as to create a positive impact for the firms and for the communities where they do business.

State, county and city revenues had been hammered hard by the coronavirus. This infusion of cash to MWBE firms will in the end bolster municipal revenues as businesses ramp up hiring and get back to work where they will be able to enhance their profitability.

“We're pleased to continue our 10-year relationship with Siebert Williams Shank to partner together to create new opportunities and expand access to capital for minority-owned small businesses,” said Tahreem Kampton, assistant treasurer and CIO at Microsoft. “There is much work to do to reduce the technology gaps that exist in our ecosystem today. This is just the first step to building a more diverse and equitable playing field and we look forward to the opportunities that this investment will help create.”

The fund is also expected to leverage SWS’s national network of relationships and its visibility and reputation within the minority business community.

Suzanne Shank, SWS president and chief executive officer.

“This is the beginning of a long-term commitment by Microsoft and by our firm to continue to address the decades of underinvestment in communities of color and the persistently limited access to capital for entrepreneurs in those communities,” said Suzanne Shank, president and CEO of SWS. “We are thrilled that Microsoft has recognized the value of this endeavor and we are confident others will follow.”

Siebert Williams Shank is the nation’s largest women-owned and minority-owned investment bank. It is the result of the 2019 combination of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. and the Williams Capital Group.

The firm is a top-ranked manager for municipal bond transactions. Combined, its two predecessor companies have participated in about 2,000 municipal financings in the last five years and have been lead managers on over 200 financings totaling about $30 billion.

The firm's name pays homage to one of its original co-founders, Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

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MWBEs Social Finance Microsoft Suzanne Shank Siebert Williams Shank