During nearly half a decade on the global stage – and long before that – Meghan Markle has made gender equality a major contributor to it. The Duchess of Sussex is now expanding that mission to the private sector as she begins building a portfolio of startup investments.
The Duchess is investing in Clevr Blends, a startup that immediately makes oat milk latte. In a statement announcing her investment in the brand, led by Co-Founder and CEO Hannah Mendoza, Meghan highlighted her interest in helping women-run businesses that received just 2.7% of venture capital funding in 2019. The personal investment is the first to be published by Meghan.
"This investment is to support a passionate entrepreneur who is prioritizing community building alongside her business," the Duchess said in a statement to Fortune. "I am proud to invest in Hannah's commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I love personally that has a holistic approach to wellness. I believe in her and I believe in her society."
Wellness has long been a concern of Meghan; She often wrote about the spa when she ran a lifestyle blog called The Tig. Meghan reached out to the Clevr team after trying the company's oat milk latte product, which was launched at a pop-up cafe in Santa Barbara in 2017. The southern California-based company, headquartered near Montecito, where Meghan and her husband Prince Harry are based, moved earlier this year.
A representative of the Duchess declined to disclose the size of her investment, which was not part of a larger financing round. The brand with six employees has so far been self-financed. Clevr plans to use the investment to scale its business, which currently sells four different types of instant lattes for $ 28, plus a milk frother and travel mug. The brand is also committed to donating 1% of sales to organizations fighting for food justice in the United States. This money is currently going to Santa Barbara's El Centro SB, a mutual aid and community organization.
“Entrepreneurs need funding, but they also need consultants who care deeply about what they build. I am grateful that I found both of them in the Duchess of Sussex, ”Mendoza said in a statement. "Your passion for what we create is palpable, and I couldn't imagine a better partnership. We look forward to the road ahead."
Since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down as senior members of the royal family in early 2020, the two have been developing platforms to further support their charitable causes – including mental health, ending online harassment and support for veterans – As public figures largely based in the US, your Archewell Foundation, where Meghan continues to work in the nonprofit on gender equality, is on the rise. The Duchess attended the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and the MPW Next Gen Summit this fall to discuss these issues.
During their complicated exit from their official role in the royal family, the couple pledged to achieve "financial independence," which means they would no longer rely on funding from UK taxpayers. As working members of the royal family, they were forbidden to earn any form of "professional income".
In addition to Meghan's interest in startup investments, the Duke and Duchess, who is a retired actor, entered the private sector through a deal to produce content for Netflix.
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