Dry Powder

Updated on April 9, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Dry Powder Meaning

Dry powder is cash reserves set aside for the contingencies or the investment opportunity to utilize it at the right time. It is also called reserves set aside for the business to face the tough times or any kind of operation-related downfall.

Dry Powder

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It is done to safeguard the investments made by the investors as it increases the faith of the individuals of financial institutions who have contributed their funds to the company. In addition, this will benefit the business organization in the long run by making it more financially stable and better equipped to handle situations that are not always within the organization’s control.

Dry Powder Explained

Dry powder in finance means setting aside for emergencies and includes monetary and non-monetary things. It is also referred to as liquid funds available for use. It is different for different organizations.

For financial institutionsFinancial InstitutionsFinancial institutions refer to those organizations which provide business services and products related to financial or monetary transactions to their clients. Some of these are banks, NBFCs, investment companies, brokerage firms, insurance companies and trust corporations. read more and business organizations, the dry powder is cash reserves. Financial institutions and business organizations set aside cash reserves to grab the opportunity or meet emergencies.

For traders and manufacturers, it is the stock or material as the manufacturers set aside some of their stock or material to be used in times of the unavailability of material or emergency. For Investors, it is liquid assetsLiquid AssetsLiquid Assets are the business assets that can be converted into cash within a short period, such as cash, marketable securities, and money market instruments. They are recorded on the asset side of the company's balance sheet.read more as the Investor holds some liquid assets to meet emergencies.

The concept is just an explanation to save for an emergency, whether a business organization or otherwise. It is a concept that originated from military fights as the soldiers kept a stock of guns, gunpowder, gunshot, food packets, and other things used in times of war to protect themselves in an emergency.   But now, this concept has widened and is used in almost all areas of business, and also it is used in non-business sectors.

The business organizations also set aside certain funds to meet the emergency and grab the uncertain opportunity. Keeping the dry powder increases the credit standing in the market and ensures smooth business conduct in tough times. Dry powder in finance also increases investors’ confidence, but sometimes it might prove to be harmful as there is the loss of opportunity cost of idle funds, and keeping funds idle might prove risky.

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#1 – In Business Environment

Business organizations usually need funds to meet their day-to-day expenditure and invest the funds. The business plans the funds by cash flow and fund flow. The safe players of the company set aside specific funds to use in an emergency as they believe that businesses should not depend upon a single source of income. Some business organizations set aside funds to meet the opportunity in the future to grab the option they want to invest in earlier. All business organizations need to set aside funds to meet emergencies as business conditions are always dynamic, and the future cannot be predicted to safeguard and protect the interest of investors. Business organizations set aside the funds to meet emergencies. Business organizations should balance liquid funds and investments to protect the opportunity costOpportunity CostThe difference between the chosen plan of action and the next best plan is known as the opportunity cost. It's essentially the cost of the next best alternative that has been forgiven.read more.

#2 – In Private Equity

The concept of dry powder private equity is very significant. Huge investors invest in Private equities to earn a high rate of return. Private equityPrivate EquityPrivate equity (PE) refers to a financing approach where companies acquire funds from firms or accredited investors instead of stock marketsread more or venture capitalistsVenture CapitalistsVenture capital (VC) refers to a type of long-term finance extended to startups with high-growth potential to help them succeed exponentially. read more use the funds to make new investments or expand the business. But they also keep certain funds aside to grab the opportunity in times of need as their investments are long termInvestments Are Long TermLong Term Investments are financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, cash, or real estate assets that a company intends to hold for more than 365 days in order to maximize profits and are reported on the asset side of the balance sheet under the heading non-current assets.read more, so keeping dry powder is very important in private equities. The fund set aside is also used in tough times or recessions to meet obligations. Dry powder private equity ensures smoothness in the business. It is the responsibility of private equity or venture capitalists managers to maintain the balance between investment and dry powder to prevent unnecessary idle funds.

#3 – Reserves

For Reserves, it means free reserves, which can be used at any time to meet the emergency or grab opportunities. It includes only those reserves available in cash, i.e., liquid reserves and cash reserves. It includes only cash reserves, which are available for free use.


Let us take the example of Finance Venture Ltd, which is a venture capitalist and aims at providing funds to start-ups and growing companies. They have set up a target of keeping aside a third of their earnings as dry powder capital so that they are never in short of funds during their business operation. This fund will provide them with a sense of financial stability to carry on with their business.


Dry powder capital affects the business in the following ways:



  • Dry powder in venture capital may lead to in the form of dry powder, which will lead to a  loss of opportunity cost.
  • It may reduce the return on investment and can deviate the investors.
  • It increases the risk factor as keeping heavy cash reserves can be risky because it may lead to fund misappropriation.
  • It might discourage investors, and they cannot get market returns.

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