With the backing of Invesco, finance veterans Colin Meadows, Kenneth Saffold and Brian Morris have launched o15 Capital Partners, an Atlanta-based firm dedicated to providing capital to companies led by and servicing undercapitalized entrepreneurs and communities.
The firm’s new fund o15 Emerging America Credit Opportunities Fund LP will invest in a more diverse economy through credit and equity investments in lower-middle-market businesses in the U.S. with a focus on women or minority-led businesses. Invesco is also investing an undisclosed sum in the new fund.
Meadows was a senior managing director with Invesco where he served for over 15 years. He held a variety of roles at the firm, including head of Invesco Private Markets, head of Invesco Global Institutional, head of Invesco Digital Ventures and chief administrative officer.
Saffold and Morris have worked together at predecessor firms since 2015 and have a shared passion for social and economic justice. Most recently, Saffold was a member of BlackRock’s Global Credit Platform, where he was responsible for originating and executing private credit investment opportunities across the U.S. out of the group’s $30 billion in AUM. He also served on the investment committee for the BlackRock Impact Opportunities Fund, a $1 billion multi-private asset class fund focused on investing in underserved ethnic group businesses and communities. He was also on the senior leadership team of the BlackRock Atlanta office.
Morris led origination and execution of healthcare financings at BankUnited, where he was the head of healthcare banking. He also oversaw the bank’s healthcare portfolio activities. Prior to that he was a senior managing director at CapitalOne, where he held various roles including sponsor finance team lead, head of healthcare originations, head of senor bank loan originations and had responsibility for all healthcare cash flow underwriting and portfolio management.
Since 2011, the firm’s founders have together committed $1.9 billion in more than 50 transactions directly related to o15’s investment strategy.
“The existing structure of capital markets continues to challenge historically disadvantaged communities, with more than a third of minority entrepreneurs citing the lack of access to capital as their primary business concern,” said Meadows, co-founder and managing partner of o15. “We founded o15 to address that challenge. The name o15 is derived from Special Field Order 15, which famously promised ’40 acres and a mule’ to former slaves during the Civil War. For us, it stands for this idea that to fully participate in capitalism you need capital, which was understood over 150 years ago and remains true today.”
Saffold, co-founder and managing partner of o15, added that women- and minority-owned firms control only 1.4% of the over $82 trillion managed by the U.S. asset management industry. Combined with a historical underinvestment in diverse-led companies and communities, a supply-demand imbalance has been created, he said. The firm will focus on opportunities in the Southeast as the region has the largest share of Black and Hispanic-owned businesses.
“We’re pleased to be an anchor investor in o15’s first Fund, which will help meet the growing needs of entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs,” said Marty Flanagan, president and CEO of Invesco. “This week is Juneteenth, which underscores the importance of our commitment to diversity and inclusion at every level of our global organization and within the communities in which we operate. Our support of o15 is part of our broad-based effort to continuously strengthen this commitment.”
The new fund will have the capability to invest across the capital structure and prioritize investments that have a disproportionate impact on minority communities, in the healthcare, education, business, and consumer services sectors where the team has prior investing experience. These companies will be led, owned, operated, or managed by women and/or members of historically undercapitalized ethnic minority groups, and/or providing a product or service that benefits those communities in particular.
“The diversity of the leadership team enables the firm to identify strong investment opportunities in undercapitalized markets that others may overlook,” added Brian Morris, co-founder and managing partner of o15. “o15 is well poised to capitalize on its sourcing, underwriting, diversity, geography, and will focus on delivering strong and consistent risk-adjusted returns and societal impact.”