California Announces First Investment by Program Designed to Create More Inclusive Venture Capital Ecosystem

Jun 27, 2023

Unshackled Ventures receives state’s first investment from new Expanding Venture Capital Access program

SACRAMENTO (June 27, 2023) — Today, the state of California’s Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) announced the first investment by a new state program, Expanding Venture Capital Access. The program — the first venture capital (VC) program administered by the state — was designed to create a more inclusive VC ecosystem. Unshackled Ventures received $4.1 million as the state’s first investment.

Founded by immigrant entrepreneurs, Unshackled Ventures invests in visionary immigrant founders, providing the “friends and family” capital that immigrant entrepreneurs often lack, while also providing full support for the founders’ immigration process, including sponsoring visas and offering a community of resources. These investments generate innovation and U.S. jobs.

“We are thrilled to announce this first investment from our new venture capital program,” said IBank Executive Director Scott Wu. “In spite of California’s dominance in the VC industry, venture capital remains inaccessible to many entrepreneurs. Increasing inclusion in who receives VC funding starts with increasing inclusion in who manages VC funds — and both are critically important in the state’s push toward equity.”

While California is home to many of the world’s top venture capital firms, the VC community is demographically concentrated, making it challenging for underserved investors and startups to access funding. Studies have shown that startups led by inclusive teams have generated better investment returns than teams that lack diversity.

The new venture capital program’s primary focus is investing in underrepresented VC fund managers, including those in geographic areas that are socio-economically disadvantaged or that receive very limited VC funding. The program is also looking to make investments that promote climate equity and climate justice.

“We looked at where there were unmet needs in the VC world and you don’t have to dig deep to see that we needed to expand access to venture capital beyond the usual suspects,” added Wu. “This program allows us broaden our reach to those who haven’t had the same access to opportunity.”

“This is a momentous first step for the state of California’s venture program,” said IBank Deputy Director of Venture Capital Derrick Tang. “The team at Unshackled belongs perfectly within our mission — to help entrepreneurs gain access to a California dream, and help support an inclusive economy that is prosperous and representative of the people of our state.”

“We founded Unshackled Ventures nine years ago with a simple mission — to help unrecognized and excluded immigrant entrepreneurs succeed faster,” said Manan Mehta, Founding Partner of Unshackled Ventures. “We believe immigrants represent a national advantage, and by partnering with the state of California, the state with the largest immigrant population in the country, we are confident that our efforts to drive more innovation and inclusion will result in more economic prosperity and American job growth.”

The Expanding Venture Capital Access program is funded by $200 million from California’s $1.2 billion allocation from the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which provides capital to fund small businesses, including those that are socially and economically disadvantaged startups and investors. The program is administered by IBank — part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) — in partnership with Cambridge Associates.

Interested VC fund managers can visit IBank’s Expanding Venture Capital Access webpage to learn more.

About the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank: IBank was created in 1994 to finance public infrastructure and private development that promote a healthy climate for jobs, contribute to a strong economy, and improve the quality of life for Californians and communities throughout the state. IBank is located within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and is governed by a five-member board of directors.

IBank issues tax-exempt and taxable revenue bonds, provides financing to public agencies, provides credit enhancements, acquires and leases facilities, leverages state and federal funds, and provides loan guarantees and other credit enhancements for small businesses. Visit us at

Karen C. Naungayan
Deputy Director of External Affairs
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