DEFINITION of Evergreen Funding
Evergreen funding is the gradual infusion of capital into a new or recapitalized enterprise. This type of funding differs from the traditional funding situation in which all the capital required for a business venture is supplied up-front by venture capitalists or other investors as part of a private funding round. When the money is provided upfront, the company then invests in short-term, low-risk securities until it is ready to use the money for business operations. With evergreen funding, capital is provided on a schedule or upon request by the investment team to the management of the company. Evergreen funding has also been used to describe a revolving credit arrangement in which the borrower periodically renews the debt financing rather than having the debt reach maturity. In this sense, lines of credit and overdrafts are types of evergreen funding as the borrower applies for it once and then is not required to reapply again to access the credit within at a later date. Evergreen funding is distinct from an evergreen fund.
An evergreen fund is an investment fund that has an indefinite fund life, meaning that investors can come and go throughout the life of the fund.
BREAKING DOWN Evergreen Funding
Evergreen funding takes its name from coniferous evergreen trees, which keep their leaves and stay green throughout the entire year rather than losing them during winter. Similarly, evergreen funding means capital is provided throughout the seasons of a company's development. In a normal debt-financing arrangement, company-issued bonds or debentures have a maturity date and require principal repayment at some future point in time. An evergreen funding arrangement, however, allows a business to renew its debt periodically, pushing back the maturity date each time so that the time until maturity remains relatively constant while the arrangement is in place. In the case of venture capital dollars, the financing is done by selling ownership stakes in the venture, but the infusions of capital are spread out over set periods. This approach is used to avoid pushing a company's growth beyond artificially fast. Evergreen funding of this nature assures entrepreneurs that the money is there but prevents them from growing too rapidly by limiting the pace of capital infusions.
Evergreen Funding for Cautious Growth
The main argument for evergreen funding for new ventures are the cautionary tales of startups that grew too fast and quickly outpaced their business model to the point that a profitable business on one scale becomes a ruined venture on the larger scale. Nevertheless, the majority of venture funding is still of the upfront variety as founders and investors are eager to scale up as fast as possible in order to fill any market voids in their sector before other startups can emerge to compete. Moreover, venture capitalists want as much of the growth as possible to occur when the company is in the private market so that the value of a potential IPO on the public market pays the maximum return.