What is Evergreen Funding?
Evergreen funding describes a type of business funding that is gradual and ongoing, as opposed to a one-time infusion of capital. The phrase originated in the United Kingdom.
Evergreen funding is typically spoken of in relation to the funding a business receives from venture capital firms. Venture capital firms may provide initial funding and/or later stage funding that may be needed when a company looks to expand its market or engage in new product development.
The term evergreen funding is also sometimes applied in an investing context. In such a case, the term refers to venture capital funds and describes how a fund is structured.
- Evergreen funding is a term that refers to funding that is provided to a company on an ongoing basis rather than as a one-time, lump-sum of cash.
- Evergreen funding arrangements offer flexibility to both borrowers and investors.
- Such funding arrangements often resemble a line of credit loan, where the borrower can access up to a specified maximum amount of funds as needed.
Evergreen Funding vs. Traditional Funding
Evergreen funding stands in contrast to traditional business funding, which is usually a one-off affair. That is, a venture capital firm or other investor provides a one-time, lump-sum of capital to a company – typically in return for an equity interest in the company. Again, the funding provided may be initial start-up funding for a business or later stage funding that is provided when a company is already established and growing.
In contrast, evergreen funding consists of funding that is gradually dispensed by the investor to the borrower (the company in need of capital). The fact that money is provided to the borrowing firm on an ongoing basis is what gives the loan arrangement its “evergreen” nature.
A variety of funding structures may be used in such an evergreen funding arrangement. Additional funds beyond an initial investment may be doled out according to an agreed-upon timetable. Alternatively, additional capital may be released to the borrower when it achieves certain milestones in growth – such as a certain level of annual revenue.
The funding arrangement may also be set up in a form that is similar to a line of credit. In that case, the investor agrees to provide money to the borrower as needed, up to a specified maximum amount, and usually limited to a certain time frame.
Let’s look at an example of an evergreen funding arrangement. Assume that Company ABC is looking to secure both start-up and additional funding for a retail clothing business. The company needs start-up capital to create and manufacture its products and to open an initial retail store. The company also anticipates needing additional funding at various points in the future to gradually open more retail locations and to develop and manufacture additional products.
Convinced that Company ABC’s business plan is viable, Venture Capital Firm XYZ agrees to provide funding to the company as follows:
- The venture capital firm agrees to provide up to $20 million in total funding.
- Some $7 million in initial funding will be provided to Company ABC to help get the company to the point of having manufactured products and a first retail store.
- A maximum of $13 million in additional funding will be made available to the company.
- The company can draw on the additional funding as needed, as it grows its business and expands, opening more stores and producing more products.
- The stated terms for receiving additional funds specify that the company can access up to an additional $2 million in funding for every $1 million it generates in annual sales; for example, if the company generates $2 million in revenues during its third year in operation, it would be able to access up to $4 million of the available $13 million in investment capital.
- Additional funding will only be provided up to a maximum time frame of five years from the date of the initial funding of $7 million; beyond that time, any remaining amount of the potential $13 million in additional funding will revert to the investor and no longer be available for the company to access.
Evergreen Investment Funds
“Evergreen” has also come to refer to the structure of some hedge funds, private equity funds, or venture capital funds. Traditionally, investments in such funds offered investors very little flexibility. One’s investment was tied up in what is known as a closed-ended fund for several years. However, in recent years, many private equity investment firms have begun to offer their clients open-ended funds that offer greater flexibility to investors.
Such funds are set up so that investors have the option to cash out or re-allocate their investment funds periodically, even though the investment firm is still maintaining investments in the fund’s portfolio companies.
Evergreen funds also offer increased flexibility to the investment firms, as they can continue to raise investment capital for the fund on an ongoing basis. These funds exist as ongoing investment enterprises, rather than having a specified end date.
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