First ESG-centred global VC fund in Japan launches with the help of Withers

The firm brought together partners from Tokyo and New York to work on the landmark deal

First ESG-centred global VC fund in Japan launches with the help of Withers

The first environment, social and governance (ESG)-centred global VC fund in Japan has been established with the help of a multijurisdictional team from Withers.

MPower Partners Fund L.P. will concentrate on investments in Japanese startups in their growth to late stages, as well as early-stage startups from overseas. The fund will support ESG integration, business scaling and global expansion for startups, and will also help startups from abroad enter the Japanese market.

The fund will consider businesses in a variety of industries, from healthcare and wellness to fintech.

“MPower Partners empowers entrepreneurs by providing tech-enabled solutions to societal challenges and driving sustainable growth through ESG integration,” Withers said.

The fund is led by four Japanese financial industry experts – Kathy Matsui, Yumiko Murakami, Miwa Seki and Eriko Suzuki. The capital commitments target is estimated at US$150m.

Three top financial institutions in the country have committed to the fund – namely, The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited, Sompo Holdings, Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Group. They join a group of international investors.

“The team leading MPower Partners are recognised ESG thought leaders and I cannot think of an investment fund that is more well suited for the times that we live in,” Withers partner Koji Yamamoto said. “The unparalleled success of MPower Partners to raise capital is a testament to the support and belief that the market has for its unique strategy. We are honoured to work with them on this launch.”

The Withers team guided MPower Partners on “the entire spectrum of fund formation, regulatory and tax,” the firm said. Aside from Yamamoto, partners Yoshiyuki Omori, Takeo Mizutani and Eric Roose made up the Tokyo side of the team, while partners David Guin and Elliot Galler made up the New York contingent.

The team received support from associates Erin Gutierrez and Brian Yu.

“Our ability to successfully launch a sizable venture capital fund during a global pandemic was made possible due to the tremendous support we received from Koji Yamamoto and the Withers team,” said Matsui, MPower Partners’ general partner. “Since the initial stage of our fund conception, they provided valuable guidance and were very responsive to our needs. Given the global nature of our fund, we appreciated their ability to deliver the entire Withers network to support us every step of the way.”

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