Thursday 17 October 2019

Meehan emerges as investor in Bono's social impact fund


Blue Bottle Coffee chief Bryan Meehan has joined investors in The Rise Fund, co-founded by U2 frontman Bono
Blue Bottle Coffee chief Bryan Meehan has joined investors in The Rise Fund, co-founded by U2 frontman Bono

John Reynolds

Coffee shop multi-millionaire Bryan Meehan has emerged as a backer of the $2bn Rise social impact investment fund, which U2's Bono founded last year alongside Canadian eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll and US private equity mogul Bill McGlashan.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Dubliner Meehan confirmed he had invested an undisclosed sum in the fund, and said he was a big admirer of Bono and also former US presidential candidate Al Gore for having founded investment funds that aim to help solve the world's biggest social and environmental problems.

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The serial entrepreneur, who remains ceo of the coffee shop chain Blue Bottle Coffee, which he led and sold last year to Swiss food giant Nestle - having previously sold an organic supermarket chain in London - is no stranger to impact investing.

It emerged earlier this year that he backed Wefarm, a text messaging and online network for farmers in east Africa to share information, in a seed round alongside the founders of Wordpress and Skype.

Among those on the board of The Rise Fund are Ryanair chairman David Bonderman, British billionaire Richard Branson, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Lynne Benioff, wife of Salesforce founder Marc, Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Meehan added that Blue Bottle Coffee is currently busy expanding in Asia, most recently opening shops in Korea.

Rise, whose backers include both billionaires and institutional investors, has made 11 investments to date in the US, India, China, Argentina, Botswana, Kenya and Nigeria.

Earlier this year, former US Democratic presidential candidate and secretary of state John Kerry became a senior advisor to the fund, whose investments span education, agriculture, food, energy, healthcare, infrastructure, technology and financial services.

Meehan is a long-time associate of Bono who, along with his wife Ali Hewson, was a backer of the Blue Bottle Coffee chain. Meehan also founded the Nude skincare range with Hewson, which was sold to luxury goods giant LVMH in 2011.

Sunday Indo Business

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