UnitedHealth Group is making a $5 million investment in Enable Ventures, a fund that aims to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
The investment will back companies that can create better quality of life, offer resources to entrepreneurs with disabilities and provide support to people with disabilities who are unemployed or underemployed. Enable puts a focus on providing the technologies and tools necessary to upskill or reskill people with disabilities to help them enter or reenter the workforce, according to the announcement.
Catherine Anderson, senior vice president of health equity strategy at UnitedHealth Group, told Fierce Healthcare in an interview that backing Enable aligns with the company's broader investment strategy around health equity.
"The current investment with enable is built on the shoulders, if you will, or the strong foundation of the work that we've been doing, really starting with being a leader in housing tax credits," she said. "And then that has led us into what we think is a leading position in social impact investments."
Other similar investments include a $10 million infusion into Invest Appalachia, a new fund that aims to drive economic equity and address social needs. UnitedHealth Group also invested $25 million in the New England Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund as well as $10 million to the Community Outcomes Fund at Maycomb Capital.
Anderson said Enable lands in an area that the team identified as ripe for improvement. One in 5 disabled people is employed, she said, and connecting people with work is shown to drive improved health outcomes.
"So our partnership and investment in enable is an example of where we've thoughtfully looked for investment opportunities to start to further address those things that we know are standing in the way of people achieving optimal health," she said.
UnitedHealth Group unveiled the investment at SOCAP Global, a key investment conference, earlier this week.
When the company is evaluating potential investment targets, it does so through several lenses, Anderson said. "Health equity isn't just one thing," she said.
The team will examine areas of statistical significance, as in this case with the data backing up the unemployment challenges facing disabled people, or look internally at initiatives it's deploying for UnitedHealth Group's own employees.
"We're really looking at win-win-win opportunities where we can deploy our capital investment strategy in a way that aligns to other work that we're doing," Anderson said.
She added that the investment in Enable really highlights how UnitedHealth Group is thinking about these kinds of investments.
"This investment is an example kind of a leading indicator of what you're likely to see from us in the future," she said.