Exclusive: Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, makes her debut as a startup investor

December 14, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC

Throughout her near half-decade on the global stage—and long before—Meghan Markle has made gender equality one of her core causes. The Duchess of Sussex is now extending that mission to the private sector as she begins to build a portfolio of startup investments.

The duchess is investing in Clevr Blends, a startup that makes instant oat-milk lattes. In a statement announcing her investment in the brand—which is led by cofounder and CEO Hannah Mendoza—Meghan emphasized her interest in supporting female-founded companies, which received only 2.7% of venture capital funding in 2019. The personal investment is Meghan’s first to be made public.

“This investment is in support of a passionate female entrepreneur who prioritizes building community alongside her business,” the duchess said in a statement to Fortune. “I’m proud to invest in Hannah’s commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I personally love and [that] has a holistic approach to wellness. I believe in her, and I believe in her company.”

Wellness has long been an interest of Meghan’s; she often wrote about the wellness space when she ran a now-shuttered lifestyle blog called The Tig. Meghan reached out to the Clevr team after trying the company’s oat-milk latte product, which debuted through a Santa Barbara pop-up coffee shop in 2017. The Southern California–based business is headquartered near Montecito, where Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, moved earlier this year.

A representative for the duchess declined to disclose the size of her investment, which wasn’t part of any kind of larger funding round. The brand, which has six staff members, has until now been self-funded. Clevr plans to use the investment to scale its business, which currently sells four different kinds of instant lattes retailing for $28, as well as a milk frother and travel mug. The brand has also committed to donating 1% of revenue to organizations fighting for food justice in the U.S., money that is currently going to Santa Barbara’s El Centro SB, a mutual aid and community organization.

“Entrepreneurs need funding, but they also need advisers who care deeply about what they are building. I’m grateful to have found both in the Duchess of Sussex,” Mendoza said in a statement. “Her passion for what we’re creating is palpable, and I couldn’t imagine a more aligned partnership. We’re excited for the road ahead.”

Since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex departed from their roles as senior members of the Royal Family in early 2020, the pair have been developing platforms to continue to support their charitable causes—which also include mental health, the end of online harassment, and support for veterans—as public figures largely based in the U.S. Their Archewell Foundation, where Meghan is continuing to work on the issue of gender equality through the nonprofit space, is getting off the ground. The duchess joined the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and MPW Next Gen Summit this fall to discuss these issues.

During their complicated exit from their official roles in the Royal Family, the couple stated a commitment to attaining “financial independence,” meaning they would no longer rely on British taxpayer funding; as working members of the Royal Family, they were barred from earning any form of “professional income.”

In addition to Meghan’s interest in startup investing, the duke and duchess, who is a former actor, have entered the private sector through a deal to produce content for Netflix.

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