The Nemtsov Foundation and the investment company The Untitled Ventures announce the establishment of the investment fund named ‘Venture for Democracy’


For the past two years, numerous independent Russian-language media outlets, human rights organizations, and activists have been operating from abroad. During the war, Putin’s government effectively severed civil society from any opportunities for fundraising within Russia. Grant financing is limited and unstable, posing a threat to key institutions of civil society, including the media, in the coming years.

A well-functioning non-profit sector is crucial for both the Russian emigrant community and the future of Russia. 

Since the onset of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of talented IT entrepreneurs have left Russia due to their disagreement with the ongoing war. Many of them aspire to build a global IT business in new countries but face difficulties in securing investments and opening bank accounts due to their Russian citizenship. This conclusion is the outcome of the feasibility study conducted by the Nemtsov Foundation in the summer of 2023. The Foundation believes that a compliance system (comprehensive verification of all counterparts) developed in collaboration with investigative journalists can address this issue.

The Untitled Ventures, drawing on a decade of experience leading to multiple successful exits, would provide investment expertise, while Nemtsov Foundation would verify all investments through an innovative and cost-effective approach developed in collaboration with leading investigative journalists

The Venture for Democracy Fund’s strategy involves investing in hi-tech startups founded abroad that will not operate in Russia and Belarus. The Fund will prioritize deep tech and AI-focused companies with an ambition to expand globally (except for Russia and Belarus) and grow their market capitalization. The Fund is aiming to raise $125m, of which $30m would be at first closing.

Fifty percent of the investment gain will be directed towards supporting civil society.

Zhanna Nemtsova, co-founder of the Nemtsov Foundation, stated, “We at the Foundation contemplated the creation of such a mechanism over a year ago. Our civil society is still weak, partly because it has received very limited and fragmented support from the business community for many years. The responsibility of business is systemic assistance to those who are fighting for the democratic future of Russia. Moreover, we want to create a culture of clean competitive business not tied to state contracts and corrupt schemes. The role of the Nemtsov Foundation in this project is to ensure comprehensive and high-quality verification of investors and investment recipients that will be trusted in the West. The investment fund is one of the tools that can be utilized to support both clean business and civil society. There are also plans to create an endowment that will distribute money to NGO projects based on transparency and competitiveness.”

“I am extremely excited by this partnership” – said Anton Antich, managing partner of the new fund and general partner at the Untitled Ventures. – “The idea of helping founders from the ex-USSR countries to scale their innovative businesses globally has always been in our DNA. Combining efforts with Nemtsov Foundation allows us to do just that at a new level of efficiency, while at the same time funding civic society and democratic initiatives in Russia, contributing what we can to make it a peaceful nation focused on making the world and the lives of people better as opposed to waging war. What’s not to like?!”

Mikhail Maglov, one of Russia’s leading investigative journalists, said: “The innovativeness of our approach is that we can use the methods of the investigative community to maximally highlight possible risks before making investment decisions. Databases stretching back multiple years and an understanding of the Russian context make it possible for us to examine a particular company and its founders in detail—and look beyond, too, to analyze all of the fund’s possible counterparties.”