For-profit

RHIA Ventures

ESG Activism

Reproductive Health Investors Alliance (RHIA) Ventures (formerly RHIA Investments) is a left-leaning investment firm which focuses its investments on companies which match its views on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. It was founded in 2018. [1] It is especially focused on legalized abortion, an issue which it addressed in an early 2020 letter urging corporate leaders to support abortion. [2]

RHIA’s portfolio includes nearly $34 million in two companies in which it invested in August 2019. [3] It was seeded by the Tara Health Foundation with a four-year, $7 million grant. [4]

Investment Strategy

RHIA Ventures engages specifically on making contraception and abortion more widespread. It is one of two early investors in Cirqle Biomedical, a start-up which is creating a non-hormonal contraceptive. [5] As of early March 2020, Cirqle’s research into its OUI contraceptive was still in the pre-testing stage. [6]

RHIA also invested $32 million in NURX, which aims to provide contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, end pregnancy, and prevent HIV/AIDS. [7] Nurx provides its products to women outside of a pharmacy environment. [8]

Activism

Despite its small investor portfolio, RHIA Ventures has engaged heavily and frequently on pushing corporations to support legalized abortion. Its five goals are to:

  • craft effective corporate messaging;
  • provide a louder voice to investors who support legalized abortion and related issues;
  • push companies to insure contraception and provide increased parental leave;
  • advocate for companies to support public policies favoring increased abortion, family leave, and contraception coverage; and advise companies on how to direct their lobbying and advocacy money so that abortion and contraceptive causes are not undermined. [9]

RHIA’s advocacy has received significant coverage in 2020 due to the release of two documents. The first, a report entitled “Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health,” explicitly advocated for corporations to support abortion and increased contraceptive access. The report was based on a national survey of college-educated women aged 18-35 as well as interviews with over 50 people involved in corporate hiring and policies. Twenty-four Fortune 500 companies were represented among the interviewees. [10]

The group also sent a letter to corporations urging them to support a “business case” for legalized abortion. [11] The letter was sent amid debate over the U.S. Supreme Court case June Medical Services v. Russo, in which the Court was considering whether a Louisiana law which requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is constitutional. [12] The letter represented 36 investors who manage $236 billion in assets, though Roll Call reported that $215.5 billion of those assets are managed by one signatory, New York City comptroller Scott Stringer (D), through the city’s government worker pension plan. [13]

Financials

RHIA Ventures was founded by Tara Health Foundation, a major financial supporter of abortion advocacy and expanded abortion access. Tara Health provided RHIA Ventures with a four-year, seven million-dollar grant. The Foundation has also provided several single-donation grants to support RHIA’s investments. [14]

Other funders of RHIA Ventures include the David and Lucile Packard Foundation[15] and the Educational Foundation of America. [16]

Leadership

Lisa Bowers Hammann is RHIA Ventures’ co-founder and CEO. [17] She previously spent almost 17 years with biotechnology giant Genentech in various marketing, product development, and operations roles. Her last position with the company was vice president and region head of North American supply chain. [18]

In between, Hammann was chief operating officer of the Tara Health Foundation, which she developed the RHIA brand and infrastructure. She is also on the board of directors for a Planned Parenthood affiliate and the health care efficiency group Cadence Health. [19]

RHIA’s two partners are Elizabeth Bailey and Stasia Obremskey. Bailey’s background is primarily focused in technology start-up ventures, impact investing, and medical innovation. Obremskey was a Tara Health Foundation fellow after a career in senior planning and strategic positions with start-ups, non-profits, and technology firms. She was also an investment banker and a management consultant. [20]

Shelley Alpern is RHIA’s director of shareholder advocacy. A longtime left-progressive shareholder activist, she has worked with a number of leading left-of-center groups like the environmental advocacy organization Ceres. She has received awards for LGBT advocacy. [21]

References

  1. LinkedIn, Lisa Hammann profile, Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisahammann ^
  2. [1] Laura Weiss, “Investors push companies to make business case on abortion,” February 12, 2020. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.rollcall.com/2020/02/12/investors-push-companies-to-make-business-case-on-abortion/ ^
  3. [1] CB Insights, Rhia Ventures. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.cbinsights.com/investor/rhia-ventures-investments ^
  4. [1] Tara Health Foundation, Rhia Ventures. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://tarahealthfoundation.org/rhia-ventures/ ^
  5. [1] CB Insights, Cirqle Biomedical. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.cbinsights.com/company/cirqle-biomedical ^
  6. [1] OUI, Our Story. Accessed March 11, 2020.https://oui.us/story.html ^
  7. [1] CB Insights, Nurx. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.cbinsights.com/company/nurx ^
  8. [1] Nurx, Main Website Page. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.nurx.com/ ^
  9. [1] Rhia Ventures, Shareholder Advocacy. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://rhiaventures.org/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
  10. [1] Rhia Ventures, “Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health”. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://rhiaventures.org/business-case-reproductive-health/ ^
  11. [1] Laura Weiss, “Investors push companies to make business case on abortion,” February 12, 2020. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.rollcall.com/2020/02/12/investors-push-companies-to-make-business-case-on-abortion/ ^
  12. [1] Kate Smith and Gilad Thaler, “Supreme Court justices focus on the impact of Louisiana abortion law.” Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/supreme-court-justices-focus-on-the-impact-of-louisiana-abortion-law/ ^
  13. [1] Laura Weiss, “Investors push companies to make business case on abortion,” February 12, 2020. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.rollcall.com/2020/02/12/investors-push-companies-to-make-business-case-on-abortion/ ^
  14. [1] Tara Health Foundation, Rhia Ventures. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://tarahealthfoundation.org/rhia-ventures/ ^
  15. “Reproductive Health Investors Alliance.” The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Accessed March 20, 2020. https://www.packard.org/grants-and-investments/grants-database/reproductive-health-investors-alliance/. ^
  16. “The Educational Foundation of America.” Center for High Impact Philanthropy – University of Pennsylvania. Accessed March 20, 2020. https://www.impact.upenn.edu/the-xx-factor/case-studies/efa/. ^
  17. [1] Rhia Ventures, Who We Are. Accessed March 11, 2020.  https://rhiaventures.org/who/ ^
  18. [1] LinkedIn, Lisa Hammann profile, Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisahammann ^
  19. [1] LinkedIn, Lisa Hammann profile, Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisahammann ^
  20. [1] Rhia Ventures, Who We Are. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://rhiaventures.org/who/ ^
  21. [1] Rhia Ventures, Who We Are. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://rhiaventures.org/who/ ^
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