Can Venture Capital Change the World?

Ron Levin’s new book explores 50 disruptive startups that say, “Yes!”

Alumni Ventures
5 min readNov 30, 2023

At Alumni Ventures, we believe the work of builders, makers, and creators will help the world take its next great leap forward. We also believe that many opportunities exist in spaces where underrepresented entrepreneurs are aiming to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. In his new book, Higher Purpose Venture Capital, AV Managing Partner Ron Levin profiles 50 companies that are solving problems related to social and wealth inequality — including multiple AV investments. See below to learn how some of these startups are aiming to do well while doing good.

Watch: Ron Levin on Higher Purpose Venture Capital

In this video, Ron Levin discusses Higher Purpose Venture Capital, his new book on dynamic, socially-conscious entrepreneurs. Ron explains his inspiration behind the book and the role VC can play in addressing global poverty and societal challenges. Watch Now »

About Higher Purpose Venture Capital

A new generation of dynamic, socially conscious entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are stepping in to fill in gaps that governments have been unable to solve. Learn about 50 venture-backed startups that are uplifting humanity through social and financial inclusion. Learn More »

AV Investments Aiming To Do Well and Good

AllHere combines AI, behavioral science, and interactive nudges to foster attendance and engagement in K-12 education. It automates personalized, two-way text messaging with chatbots to improve attendance rates and guide students and families through school.

How We’re Involved

$8 million Series A in 2021 led by Spero Ventures, with participation from SoftBank’s Opportunity Fund

AV Funds Invested in AllHere

The Yard Ventures (for the Harvard community)
Total Access Fund (our broadest, most diversified fund)

Aprende Institute is a leading online education platform for vocational training in LatAm and the U.S. Hispanic market, offering an array of online certifications and courses. The platform integrates digital media with instruction-led activities, helping employees and students improve their work skills, start their own businesses, or embark on new careers.

How We’re Involved

$22 million Series A in 2021 led by Valor Capital Group, with participation from Univision

AV Funds Invested in Aprende

Purple Arch Ventures (for the Northwestern community)
Westwood Ventures (for the UCLA community)
The Yard Ventures (for the Harvard community)
Total Access Fund (our broadest, most diversified fund)

Boundless Immigration provides immigrants with tools, information, and personalized support to navigate the naturalization process. Its service provides new immigrants with access to an immigration lawyer and allows them to file critical paperwork online affordably.

How We’re Involved

$25 million Series B in 2021 led by Foundry Group, with participation from Emerson Collective

AV Funds Invested in Boundless

Congress Avenue Ventures (for the Texas Community)
Green D Ventures (for the Dartmouth community)
Westwood Ventures (for the UCLA community)
The Yard Ventures (for the Harvard community)
Total Access Fund (our broadest, most diversified fund)
Syndication (opportunities for AV investors)

Fido is a digital lending platform aiming to serve the ~560 million Sub-Saharan Africans who can’t access basic financial services through traditional banks. Powered by machine learning, Fido makes small personal loans through instant credit decisions based solely on a user’s cell phone data. Its technology is entirely automated, highly scalable, and capable of detecting fraud.

How We’re Involved

$30 million Series A in 2022 led by Fortissimo Capital

AV Funds Invested in Fido

Lakeshore Ventures (for the UChicago community)
The Yard Ventures (for the Harvard community)
Total Access Fund (our broadest, most diversified fund)
Syndication (opportunities for AV investors)

SoLo Funds is a peer-to-peer lending platform that relies on a user base of borrowers and lenders. Members lend money to other members to help them cover a bill, and then borrowers pay them back and add a voluntary tip as a sign of appreciation. SoLo Funds caters to people who aren’t typically eligible for traditional personal loans and often resort to expensive and predatory payday loans to cover cash gaps.

How We’re Involved

$10 million Series A in 2021 led by ACME Capital, with participation from ​Techstars​ and Serena Williams’ VC fund

AV Funds Invested in SoLo Funds

Towerview Ventures (for the Duke community)
The Yard Ventures (for the Harvard community)
Total Access Fund (our broadest, most diversified fund)

About Ron Levin

Ron Levin is Managing Partner of Alumni Ventures’ Seed Fund and Super Angel Partner Program. Ron has held various entrepreneurial, leadership, and business development roles. He has been an angel investor and advisor to over a dozen startups. Ron was Co-Founder and CEO of TravelPerk, a VC-backed travel management platform that is now a “unicorn” company with thousands of employees and customers across the globe. Prior to TravelPerk, he started the B2B division of Booking.com, and before that was a consultant with McKinsey & Co. Ron began his career at Lycos, one of the web’s pioneer search engine and web portals. Ron graduated from Babson College and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

About Alumni Ventures

Alumni Ventures offers accredited individuals access to professional-grade venture capital , a key asset class missing from the portfolios of many sophisticated investors. Since 2014, AV has raised more than $1.2 billion across 40+ Alumni and Focused Funds, serving a growing network of 9,500+ investors and 600,000+ community members. AV evaluates hundreds of investment opportunities every year and has backed 1,200+ unique portfolio companies. Alumni Ventures is the #1 most active venture firm in the U.S., and #3 most active in the world, according to PitchBook’s 2022 rankings. AV funds are private, for-profit, and not affiliated with or sanctioned by any school. For more information, visit av.vc.

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Alumni Ventures

Alumni Ventures offers individuals access to professional-grade venture capital, a key asset class missing from the portfolios of many sophisticated investors.