As the daughter of two artists and a father who grew up in Tanzania, seeing the world through a different lens is something that’s come naturally to Eva Yazhari since her earliest days. It’s no wonder. Growing up in a middle-class neighborhood on Staten Island, Eva didn’t just see extraordinary wealth when she gazed across the Hudson at Wall Street, but boundless possibilities — opportunities to transform the financial system so that it worked for more people.
Eva’s career in finance has been a singular quest to use the proven levers of capitalism in ways that align with ethical values right from the get-go. Eva came of age as a financial professional in the post-Bernie Madoff scandal era and the financial market meltdown of 2008. And her takeaway was that the recklessness of that time had ripple effects that profoundly affected the lives of everyday people.
Values and values awareness matter. And there had to be a better way to integrate values with finance.
Eva realized that the place to start was by becoming a superlative investor in her own right. She honed her investment acumen at the highly entrepreneurial fund manager EnTrust Capital, where she played a critical role in raising $4.8 billion over five years. Armed with the fundamentals of how to build a successful investment fund, and with an entrepreneurial spirit baked into her DNA, Eva went about realizing her vision: finding a way to invest based on her values.
In 2009, she co-founded Beyond Capital Fund when the field of impact investing wasn’t much more than a philanthropic experiment, let alone a way to finance the great entrepreneurs of tomorrow’s economy. At the time, most investors weren’t ready to consider impact investing as a viable alternative for their portfolios. So for her first fund, Eva established a 501(c)(3) non-profit to prove that you could achieve financial returns and invest your values.
Inspired by her own upbringing, Eva concentrated on investing in India and East Africa, regions where over a billion people were living in poverty. Eva was convinced that the possibility of bringing more people into the broader economy could improve lives as well as create an economic engine.
Her Game-Changing Idea
Over time, Eva came to realize that conscious leadership was one of the most important factors in driving the creation of successful, values-aligned businesses. Building purpose-driven businesses means factoring in all stakeholders, not just shareholders or customers. How does a business impact the community where it operates or sells its products? What about the impact on employees, families and governments? And what can you do as an investor to ensure that impact outcomes are baked into the fabric of a company?
To better understand what drives purpose-driven leadership, Eva embarked on a research project that eventually became one of the most widely recognized podcasts in the impact space, The Beyond Capital Podcast. Eva interviewed 75 founders to discuss their inspiration, their “ah-ha” moments, their success stories and the challenges they have faced to grow their businesses.
By 2019, the investment climate had shifted, and more people were waking up to the possibility of investing in returns-seeking and purpose-driven businesses. Having proven the investment case in the non-profit venture, and armed with the knowledge from her podcast, Eva co-founded Beyond Capital Ventures.
True to form, Beyond Capital Ventures reflects Eva’s ability to think differently. Eva realized that venture firms like hers would better serve the companies they invest in if their interests were more fully aligned. Investment returns at venture funds aren’t just about rewarding investment professionals. They are created on the backs of founders. So why not encourage founders to drive better impact outcomes in their businesses by enabling them to share in the upside of an improved business?
Taking a page from UK-based Kindred Capital, Eva incorporated what is known as an equitable venture strategy into her fund’s financial model. Beyond Capital Ventures incentivizes founders by sharing some of their carry with those who achieve certain impact milestones, typically around Beyond Capital’s three large impact themes: climate, gender and livelihood. It’s a recognition, Eva explained, that “we have to move away from the idea that I’m the one with the money and you, the founder, are just taking it.” Beyond capital, indeed.
Why Her Work Matters
In an investment marketplace dominated by financial transactions that are divorced from our values, Eva has helped define what it means to invest with integrity. Investments can be more than transactional – they can be relationship-driven, ethics-based, heart-centered, and even fun. It means breaking some conventions and rewriting the financial playbook. All while delivering market-rate, risk adjusted returns.
Today, Beyond Capital Ventures is a top-quartile fund that is poised to scale. And if Eva’s past is a harbinger of her future, there will be no stopping her, and we will all be the better for it.