Diageo investment fund Distill Ventures is opening up an additional US$5m round of funding for drinks entrepreneurs working in “underrepresented communities”.

Founded in 2013, Distill Ventures is a venture capital company formed by London-based investment group Independents United and Diageo. In 2021, it completed a $5m investment into ten drinks brands spread across the US, UK and the Netherlands.

The second round of funding will focus on LGBTQIA+ and female entrepreneurs. Applicants to the programme can apply for an initial investment of up to $500,000, spread out over the course of six to twelve months. Further funding can be applied for at a later date.

Previously funded brands included Vascano Tequila, a brand set up as a representation of the founders’ intersectional identities of being female, black and LGBTQIA+. Also receiving support was Atōst, a US-based apéritif that is a majority Latina and female-operated brand.

Kamuti Kiteme, the managing director for inclusive investment programmes at Distill Ventures, said: “The pre-accelerator remains distinct in its approach; we’ve taken our proven support model for founders in drinks and extended it to early-stage companies to offer hands-on guidance, along with funding at all stages of growth.”

“Paramount to the DV model is its commitment to letting founders lead, and the Pre-Accelerator was designed to maintain flexibility along each founder’s journey without tying them into longer-term equity agreements. What we create today will help us achieve the ambitious goals we aspire to achieve tomorrow,” said Kiteme.

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Applications to the programme are open globally from now to 1 December. The programme will begin in February.

Last month, Diageo launched an ESG initiative in Africa that aims to fund smallholder farms across the continent, particularly focusing on those that are affected by water and climate crises.

“I go into bars asking ‘have you got anything from Africa?’ A fair few times, the answer’s no” – Spearhead Spirits on ambitions to take African spirits worldwide