New York, May 4, 2021 —  The Open Road Impact Fund was recognized as a Fast Company 2021 World Changing Idea in the categories of Impact Investing and General Excellence. Launched by Open Road Alliance in March 2020, it is the only impact investing fund focused on providing short-term bridge loans to established social enterprises experiencing an unexpected, externally caused cash crunch on their path to scale. To date, in its first year, the Impact Fund has disbursed more than $9 million to over 25 organizations across impact sectors globally.

This is not the first time Open Road has received recognition as a “world changing idea.” In 2019, Open Road Ventures, was recognized in the category of General Excellence by Fast Company. In the past five years, Open Road Ventures has disbursed more than $25 million in loans, keeping more than $263 million of impact on track. In the next five years, the Impact Fund will disburse up to $100 million in short-term loans to 200 social enterprises—keeping $1 billion of impact on track.

In March 2020, as the social sector’s needs for unexpected funding reached an unprecedented level, the Open Road Impact Fund was launched as a new vehicle to take the organization’s model for emergency financing to a commercial scale. The Impact Fund proved to be uniquely situated to respond to COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis. As the social sector faced decreased revenues and increased demand for services during COVID-19, the Impact Fund was already disbursing millions of dollars in critical bridge capital to social organizations in need. In its first year of operations, the Fund has supported impact organizations across the spectrum such as a healthcare organization expanding its telemedicine offerings to vulnerable populations in New Jersey; East Africa’s largest tilapia farm providing 20 million high-protein meals to local communities; and an education company accelerating its expansion into Ghana—all amid the global pandemic. 

Now in its fifth year, Fast Company editors and reporters selected the World Changing Ideas winners and finalists from a pool of more than 4,000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. Plus, several new categories were added, including Pandemic Response, Urban Design, and Architecture. The 2021 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Brazil to Denmark to Vietnam.

“There is no question our society and planet are facing deeply troubling times. So, it’s important to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, impact, design, scalability, and passion to solve these problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have discovered some of the most groundbreaking projects that have launched since the start of 2020.”

“Open Road is not just a ‘world changing idea,’ it is a method for clearing impediments to impact in a world that keeps changing. In this new normal, donors and investors will need to adapt to a posture of resilience rather than survival. The biggest world changing ideas are the ones that change not just your business, but how business is done among your competitors too. The Impact Fund is an idea for global adoption. This is the potential and the promise of the Open Road Impact Fund,” said Maya Winkelstein, CEO of Open Road Alliance.

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

About the Open Road Impact Fund

The Open Road Impact Fund is a $40 million fund launched in March 2020 by Open Road Alliance. The Fund provides short-term bridge loans to established social enterprises experiencing an unexpected, externally caused cash crunch on their path to scale. Built on the proven track record of Open Road Alliance, the Impact Fund is the first fund by Open Road that is open to outside investors, including family offices, foundations, and impact-first investors. It is currently the only impact investing fund to focus on filling discrete, short-term gaps in the social sector. In its first five years, the Fund will disburse up to $100 million in bridge loans to 200 social enterprises—keeping $1 billion of impact on track while providing investors with a financial return.

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About Open Road Alliance

Open Road Alliance serves the social sector by keeping impact on track in an unpredictable world. Founded in 2012, Open Road helps nonprofits and social enterprises overcome obstacles to impact. From small startup solar companies in Tanzania to human rights organizations in Syria, Open Road Alliance works across geographies and sectors. As the market leader in social sector bridge funding, our goal is to ensure innovative efforts to address the world’s greatest challenges can carry on without interruption. We do this by offering fast, flexible funding via charitable grants and loans. Open Road Alliance has provided 300+ grants and loans to 250+ organizations across 60+ countries, keeping more than $500 million of impact on track.


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