Seven New Social Ventures Receive Seed Funding from Columbia’s Tamer Fund for Social Ventures

Jun 10, 2020

The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, a Columbia Business School program that provides seed grants to nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid early-stage social and environmental ventures, has awarded seed grants to four startups in the fall and three startups this spring. After ten funding cycles, the growing portfolio is now comprised of 37 ventures, which are either led by Columbia University students, alumni, faculty or researchers, or advised by Columbia University faculty or researchers.

The founding teams of these ventures represent diverse schools across Columbia University, including the portfolio’s first entrepreneur from the School of Professional Studies, Marissa Cuevas of MicroTerra. Moreover, the portfolio expanded the sectors covered to include transportation with the addition of ClearRoad. Other schools represented in the portfolio include Teachers College; the School of International and Public Affairs; the Business School; the Law School; the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Mailman School of Public Health; Columbia College; Barnard College; the Earth Institute; and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Selected entrepreneurs gain funding and access to a wide variety of connections and resources available through the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and Columbia Business School.

The following Tamer Fund for Social Venture awardees were selected after their participation in an application screening round, a due diligence process with student teams from a Columbia Business School course, and a final pitch to the fund’s investment board:

Fall 2019

Article22, co-founded by Gael Forterre, ’19BUS; Elizabeth Suda; and Camille Hautefort, sells handcrafted jewelry created by Laotian artisans from recovered landmines. Each sale contributes to efforts by the Mine Advisory Group to clear unexploded ordnance left from previous wars.

CERO Cooperative, co-led by Maya Gaul, ’13CC; Lor Holmes; and Josefina Luna, offers commercial composting to the Boston metro area in a unique business model as a cooperative to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills and provide good green jobs where every employee is a worker-owner.

MicroTerra, founded by Marissa Cuevas, ’17SPS, builds onsite water treatment systems with microalgae, which transforms wastewater into a sustainable protein source and clean water. Their objective is to empower farmers in Mexico to become part of a circular agro-industry.

Zelp, co-founded by Patricio Norris, ’12BUS, and Francisco Norris, and collaborating with strategy advisor, Melissa Renteria, ’12BUS, provides “smart” wearable devices for cattle that reduces livestock emissions that contribute to climate change.

Spring 2020

ClearRoad, co-founded by Paul Salama, ’04SEAS, and Frederic Charlier, leverages existing vehicle data and GPS to provide lightweight congestion management and pricing solutions, which effectively reduces climate change-causing emissions.

Farm Fare, co-founded by Cullen Naumoff, ’10SIPA; Daniel Conway; and Laura Adiletta, equips small-scale producers and food hubs with data that enables them to work collaboratively through a shared marketplace and management platform while sharing high-cost infrastructure that already exists in a region.

Plan A Health, founded by Dr. Caroline Weinberg MD, ’12MPH, is a nonprofit providing mobile health care directly to underserved communities, starting in rural Mississippi, with an emphasis on improving sexual and reproductive health.


For more information about the social ventures and their founders, click here.

Find out about the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures and the online application here.

Application Deadlines: August 15 and March 1, annually

About the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures
Established in 2015, the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures provides seed grants of up to $25,000 to early-stage nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid social and environmental ventures. In addition to funding, the ventures gain access to a wide variety of resources and connections available through the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures was made possible by a generous donation by Tony and Sandra Tamer.


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