It is difficult to write a Year in Review post without acknowledging the multitude of challenges that affected all of us; however, others have written more eloquent summaries than I can produce here. Suffice it to say, 2020 was a memorable year and a unique environment to launch a new investment fund.
If you are unfamiliar with Render Capital, we are a $15 million investment fund committed to increasing the access to capital for businesses within Louisville and Southern Indiana. We were started by Access Ventures and carry forward their core belief that the economy must function for all people.
Render Capital was conceived in late 2018 and the following year was spent building out the thesis, the team, and related investment initiatives. We entered 2020 with excitement and announced the fund in February, only to have encountered a global pandemic and resulting economic shutdown a few weeks later.
In light of the circumstances, we made adjustments to our original plan for the year, but not our focus as we had the opportunity to immediately put our thesis to work. Early in the pandemic, we provided emergency financing for the immediate production of hand sanitizer and our Growth Loan suspended all principal payments due from our borrowers. Our largest response effort was organizing a $1.5 million small business continuity loan fund, in conjunction with LHOME, METCO, James Graham Brown, and many others, which helped 68 businesses navigate the economic shutdown.
In addition to our COVID-19 response efforts, we launched the Render Competition through which we invested $800,000 into 8 companies from an initial pool of 194 applicants. We also created a WeFunder match fund through which we invested $60,000 into 3 companies. All told, we invested $2.36 million dollars into 17 companies in 2020 across all investment products.
Although 2020 didn’t go as planned our efforts were deeply fulfilling. We had the privilege to sit with hundreds of entrepreneurs and community partners during highly uncertain times and see first hand the resilience it takes to be successful. The Louisville and Southern Indiana region steps into challenges and that provides encouragement and optimism going into 2021.