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Masawa Minute 52

What’s it like to be a founder? | Harnessing data for social change | + More!

This is the Masawa Minute — mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing snippets from what we’ve read the last two weeks + where you can get active.

Welcome to the last newsletter of the year! And what a year it’s been. Fittingly, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been reading all about investment — from impact investing to social businesses and the post-growth economy, and that’s what we want to share with you today. Cheers!

Masawa Thoughts

It’s great that impact Investing, the concept of providing (financial) capital to another organization for an eventual social and financial return, is gaining steam. Impact investing goes further than do-no-harm ESG screening that is becoming de jour at most large financial institutions. And even though much of impact investing could be classified as fluff, especially when there’s no accountability towards positive impact, the attention is welcomed.

We’ve been thinking much about the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of various flavors of capital that those catalyzing mental wellness need to shift out of the existing mental health crisis. Financial capital is crucial, bar none, but so is the human, political, intellectual, computational, natural, and community capital needed to support networks of changemakers.

Explicitly, Masawa is committed to Nurture Capital, the holistic approach to working on weaving together the power of people and purpose into the financial and social impact success of impact investments. And we might be cooking up something to drive the impact further! Don’t be a stranger, or stay tuned… ☺

Startup Spotlight


Cerebral, an online mental health provider, just raised $300 million in its Series C financing round, boosting the valuation to $4.8 billion. This comes less than two months after Simone Biles joined the company as chief impact officer. A few days ago Cerebral also joined forces with precision psychiatry startup Alto Neuroscience for a decentralized Phase 2 clinical trial for Alto Neuroscience’s depression drug candidate ALTO-300.

Cerebral, launched in January of 2020, prides itself on offering a combination of online services encompassing mental health care and wellness. Its offerings include everything from counseling to medication delivery for conditions like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. After the latest round, the company finds itself among the world’s largest and fastest-growing digital mental health companies — we’re excited to see what comes next + how they can maximize and maintain their impact!

This Week’s Story

How to make your emergency response system more resilient — and why you should

a single american dollar bill

During the first 6 months of the pandemic, the demand for emergency grants and loans significantly exceeded anything most organizations were prepared for. As investors struggled to keep up the need for emergency funding, countless impact-first companies had to wait months for investors to set up procedures and protocols to deal with the unprecedented situation. Had the response been faster and more efficient, the financial hits taken wouldn’t have been as big. With this in mind, now is the time to start preparing for the next crisis (which will inevitably come) so that we can have a better outcome in the future. Resilience is the ROI in the world of the new normal, and impact investors must adapt their practices accordingly.

The first step in doing that is identifying the flexibility of the fund’s legal structure — that can save a lot of time when developing emergency strategies further. After that, it’s essential to understand that the emergency response system needs to be developed ahead of a crisis, and it needs to function effectively without any unnecessary delays. In a large-scale crisis, like a pandemic, it’s also important to choose one’s losses. It’s an investor’s responsibility to clearly identify who or what they won’t be able to save. Preparing emergency financing criteria before a crisis hits is the best way to ensure that these decisions are sensible, just, and in line with the investor’s values. In addition, for impact investors, taking the opportunity cost of lost impact into consideration is critical. In the end, resilience isn’t about defeating a crisis today, but rather about protecting the impact in the future.

How Impact Investors Can Prepare for the Next Crisis

What else we’re reading…

a glass filled with coins and a tiny plant growing out of it

💸 One of the most necessary reforms in mental health care is shifting from treatment to prevention. Next to the social arguments, now there’s a financial argument as well — years of research on early interventions for psychosis demonstrates a substantial return of investment.

💁 Being a founder is tough — we all know that. But no one knows it better than founders’ coaches, who hear it all. A lot of founders are exceptionally lonely and feel like they can’t talk to anyone about their experiences and struggles, or their need for support. Except for their coaches, that is, who often do a magnificent job keeping the founders on track.

📔 Data matters. It’s essential for the success of any project, including social impact initiatives that can and should harness the power of data to facilitate social change. Investors are in a perfect position to support data utilization in their collective impact partnerships and initiatives — here’s how.

🌱 Sustainable investing is booming — more than half of consumers believe that investors and financial service companies are obligated to help the environment and aren’t putting enough effort into it. However, there’s also some skepticism about the industry and its potential for real impact. Where does this leave sustainable investing?

💼 Traditional business models aren’t cutting it anymore when it comes to envisioning the future we want to have — it’s time to turn to non-extractive and regenerative practices. Read an interview with Melanie Rieback, the founder of the Post Growth Entrepreneurship (PGE) Incubator, to learn what problems she sees in the growth economy and how we can move past it.

Gabija Vilkaitė

Gabija works as a Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Masawa. She lets her vision of a more just, sustainable, equitable world guide Masawa’s story and inform the work towards transforming global mental wellness to make it accessible and accepted.




Masawa is the world’s first mental wellness impact fund, committed to shifting the established paradigms of investment and mental health support. We invest in founders innovating mental wellness and work with them to maximize impact, organizational health, and financial returns.

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We are the mental wellness impact fund. We invest in companies innovating mental wellness and help them succeed through impact & organizational health support.

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