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New Community Transformation Fund invests in Grain Technology to provide inclusive access to credit

Author: Ollie Howie

(GRAND RAPIDS, MI) – New Community Transformation Fund (NCTF), a Grand Rapids-based venture fund aimed at boosting businesses owned by people of color in West Michigan, has made an investment in Grain Technology, Inc., a six-year-old Oakland, California business that provides cash-flow-centered underwriting for individuals and businesses using a proprietary credit prediction platform which leverages machine learning technology.

The deal, NCTF’s first consumer-focused financial technology investment, was finalized in March this year. Grain will use the NCTF investment to continue supporting its tens of thousands of customers, expand its customer base, and invest in technological enhancements to its platforms.

Grain Photo small

As part of the investment, the company, which employs 28 people, will
seek to grow its footprint in the Grand Rapids area and add West
Michigan shareholders. Grain was founded in 2017 by entrepreneurs
Christian-Robert Joseph, who serves as CEO; Patrick De Suza, the Chief
Technology Officer; and Carl-Alain Memnon, the Chief Operating Officer.

“The idea behind our formation came from a determination to democratize credit,” said Christian Joseph. “As victims of the narrow credit system structure, we weren’t included in deserved opportunities and experienced large amounts of high-interest debt. Our product reimagines how credit decisions are made and widens possibilities for businesses and consumers.”

“We are appreciative of New Community Transformation Fund’s confidence in our platform with this significant investment,” added Carl Memnon.

Grain fit NCTF’s focus on investing in emerging companies within financial technology, health care, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. Those are the primary industries that the fund focuses on, with investments expected to range between $500,000 to $1,500,000.

“We are very impressed with Grain’s operations and wholeheartedly support their belief that creditworthiness is more than just a credit score,” said Birgit Klohs, executive board chair of New Community Transformation Fund and one of the group’s founders.

NCTF managing director Ollie Howie sourced the investment and has become acquainted with Grain’s vision.

“Grain’s cash-flow-centered model takes current aspects of someone’s life into account, not their past, so the lending decisions set individuals and businesses up for success, not penalize them,” said Ollie Howie. “The real-time, cash-flow-centered process is incredibly accurate and efficient. NCTF looks forward to helping Grain help others succeed.”

NCTF leaders are excited to continue investing in companies and have already compiled a solid pipeline of potential next investments. Additionally, other communities across the nation have their eye on what NCTF is doing and have even inquired about replicating the fund in other communities.

About New Community Transformation Fund

NCTF, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, officially launched on January 23, 2020, inspired by an idea that former longtime Right Place president and CEO Birgit Klohs had to create opportunities for entrepreneurs of color.

The venture capital fund has a goal of primarily investing in companies owned and / or operated by diverse business leaders, while providing suitable risk adjusted returns to its investors.

The fund focuses on scalable early to mid-stage businesses and transitioning succession companies within financial technology, health care, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. The fund requires that founders and portfolio companies have an economic impact on West Michigan.

NCTF maintains an investment committee comprised of local and national members and is governed by a board of directors which, along with Klohs as chair, includes fellow NCTF co-founder Skot Welch, President and CEO Global Bridgebuilders; Kwame Anku, CEO and General Partner of Black Star Fund; Garrick Rochow, President and CEO of CMS & Consumers Energy; Christal Jackson, an internationally known venture philanthropist; Ron Hall, President and CEP of Bridgewater Interiors; and Vivian Pickard, President and CEO of Pickard Group. Ollie Howie is managing director and executes all investments for NCTF.