What is a Capital?

Financial capital is a way to describe the money and other resources that people and businesses use to make things happen. Think of it like building blocks, or Legos. Each block, or dollar, is a small piece of financial capital that you can use to build something bigger.

Just like how you use building blocks to make different things, you can use financial capital in many different ways too. You can use it to buy things you want or need, save it for something special, or even lend it to someone else so they can use it to make things happen too. And just like how you can add more blocks to make something bigger, you can also add more financial capital to make bigger things happen.

Simplified Example

Let’s say you want to buy a card, you need to have enough financial capital, or money, to pay for it. If you want to start a lemonade stand, you need financial capital to buy the ingredients and supplies. And if you want to save up for something special, like a trip to an amusement park, you need to have the financial capital to put away for it.

History of the Term Capital

The term "capital" has a long and rich history in finance, dating back to the early days of commerce and trade. Initially, "capital" referred to the wealth or assets owned by an individual or organization, encompassing physical assets such as land, tools, and machinery, as well as financial assets such as cash, gold, and precious metals.

As economic systems evolved and financial markets emerged, the concept of capital expanded to encompass the funds invested in businesses and ventures. This broader definition of capital recognized the role of financial resources in driving economic growth and productivity.

In the 18th century, Adam Smith, in his seminal work "The Wealth of Nations," further refined the concept of capital, distinguishing between fixed capital, which is used for long-term production, and circulating capital, which is used for short-term production or consumption. This distinction highlighted the dynamic nature of capital and its role in various stages of economic activity.


Debt Capital: Debt capital refers to funds that are borrowed by a company or organization. This can include bonds, loans, and other forms of debt financing. Debt capital typically comes with a fixed interest rate and a repayment schedule, which can be used to finance a wide range of projects, including capital expenditures, mergers and acquisitions, and research and development. Debt capital is an important source of funding for many companies, particularly those that may not have the cash or other resources to finance their operations or investments.

Equity Capital: Equity capital refers to funds that are raised through the sale of ownership stakes in a company. This can include common stock, preferred stock, and other forms of equity financing. Equity capital does not come with an interest rate or repayment schedule, but rather provides investors with a share of the company's ownership and potential profits. Equity capital can be used to finance a wide range of projects, including expansion, research and development, and acquisitions. Equity capital can also provide companies with additional resources and expertise, as investors may be able to contribute to the company's growth and success.

Working Capital: Working capital refers to the funds that a company has available to finance its day-to-day operations. This can include cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and other current assets. Working capital is an important measure of a company's financial health, as it represents the difference between its current assets and current liabilities. Companies with sufficient working capital are better able to manage their cash flow, pay their bills on time, and invest in future growth opportunities. Working capital can be used to finance a wide range of operational expenses, including payroll, rent, utilities, and inventory.

  • Capital Fund: A capital fund is like a big piggy bank where people or organizations put money together to use for a specific purpose.

  • Venture Capital: Venture capital is an investment in a start-up or early stage business that involves high risk but also the potential for high rewards.