Venture Debt for Emerging Markets
Athena Capital is an impact-oriented venture debt investor in small and medium enterprises (SME) in emerging markets.
We invest in early-stage businesses in a variety of industries through unsecured, short-term debt used for working capital. Athena Capital’s customized repayment structures, based on cash flows, support SMEs with sustainable growth.
We invest largely in “main street” and high-impact businesses that may not be attractive to rapid or high growth-oriented private equity or venture capital. Athena invests with two impact lenses: gender equity and positive climate change.
Many SMEs in emerging markets lack access to the capital they need to grow into healthy, steady-state companies.
In today’s global economic environment, this is especially true for SMEs founded by women or those developing high-impact businesses.
These companies are too big for microfinance, too small and slow-growing for venture capital, and are often perceived as “too risky” and lack sufficient collateral for commercial banks.
Athena customizes lending products that meet the specific needs of individual businesses, focusing on investments for working capital and to reduce cash flow volatility. We are lending in Indonesia through the brand BIDUK and initiating track record investments in Africa.
We partner with clients to grow their business. This means we don’t offer “off-the-shelf” financial instruments that clients have to retro-fit into their business needs. Athena put the client at the center by identifying the capital needs of each client and then develops custom solutions specifically for the business needs.
We also support our clients beyond money, by providing guidance and advice in navigating growth in early stage companies; we do this by helping them network, introducing them to partners and advisors that can help them use our funding smartly, for immediate impact on cash flows.
“When the very first COVID-19 patient transmitted at our office building all the funds were canceled except Athena. Athena not only provided us with the loan, but they also helped us to think rationally, gave us the insight to create cash flow projections, and even analyzed our leads pipeline so that as a woman leader I could have more strategic decision making. Athena supports Ecodoe beyond money. I’m grateful that today it’s easier for us as women entrepreneurs to have access to non-gender-biased financing.”
Laras Widyaputri, CEO, Ecodoe
Laras successfully grew revenue >800% within 18 months.
Athena Capital Bridges the Financing Gap
Athena delivers the financing solutions SMEs need to sustainably grow their businesses—to become ready for other types of capital, to reduce cash flow volatility, or to get to their ideal size and market fit.
Athena Capital offers flexible, tailored, uncollateralized, right-sized loans coupled with venture building support services for SMEs. We’ve removed gender bias from the investment process and included screens to capture climate benefit.
Athena Capital in Indonesia
Athena is currently lending to women-led and environmentally sustainable SMEs in Indonesia through our brand BIDUK. Learn more
Athena Capital in Africa
We are expanding to Africa, replicating our model there, starting with a track record investment to a women-run company.
Investing at the Nexus of Gender & Climate
We support SME clients to build stronger businesses. We look for founders and teams that are open to attaining long-term gender equity and environmental impact in ways that are tailed to their business model and stage of growth.
As part of our investment process, we assess the extent to which companies are doing their part to support the environment.
From Our Portfolio
JALA Fish is a woman-led exporter of Indonesian yellowfin tuna and flakey fish. Sourced from Talaud Island, JALA plays to the strength of Indonesia — its vast oceans — while utilizing sustainable sourcing and delivery methods for fishery products.
The company delivers premium quality products and safeguards marine sustainability by meticulously following traditional and sustainable ‘one hook, one fish’ methods of catch in small boats. JALA provides ongoing coaching to fishermen on how to improve the handling process and facilitates access to premium markets, such as Australia.
BIDUK, Athena’s brand in Indonesia, has supported JALA over two loan cycles enabling them to purchase raw materials, increase production, modify their processing facilities, and incorporate more gender equity practices into their business. Funding from BIDUK also supports the export certification process for JALA which will connect local fishermen from Talaud Island with broader international markets, including the US.
BIDUK’s partnership with JALA is about more than money. Committed to decent work for everyone, not just the male fishermen, JALA has created good jobs for women in the processing facilities and in logistics. JALA CEO Aninda Scholten said, “BIDUK is always helpful and always provides hands-on experience when facing a problem.”
BIDUK leverages our support of successful, sustainable, women-led businesses, like JALA, to address gender and climate imbalances and work toward a more sustainable and equitable future.