Few investors back early-stage startups targeting poor customers in emerging markets. Fewer still make money on such investments. To address this “pioneer gap,” Global Partnerships and Eleos Foundation announced the launch of a new $5 million Social Venture Fund that aims to impact the lives of 5 million people in East Africa – and earn a modest return.
With $2.7 million in commitments, including $1 million from Global Partnership and investments from Sorenson Impact Foundation, Linked Foundation and other individual investors, the fund aims to back 12 East African startups focused on education, energy, health, rural livelihoods, sanitation and water.
As part of the deal, the Eleos Foundation dissolved and granted its assets to Global Partnerships to cover the expenses of the 10-year fund. Eleos's investments in Sanergy, Penda Health, and Eneza Education will roll into the new fund. Jim Villanueva, who has been Eleos's executive director, will join GP as the fund's managing director.
Bain moves ahead. After more than a year of talking – and listening – former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has formally launched the Bain Capital Double Impact Fund, according to a barebones federal filing.
Neglected disease biotech. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation led Just Biotherapeutics' $14 million second Series A round, with the Gates Foundation leading the round with $8 million. The Seattle-based biologics venture, which spunoff from Amgen in 2014 is focused on therapeutic proteins, including anti-HIV antibodies. (For ImpactAlpha's report on the Gates Foundation's biotech investments, see “Neglected No More.”)
The foundation, which led the round with an $8 million investment, was joined by existing investors Merck, Lilly Asia Ventures and ARCH Venture Partners, who each contributed $2 million. Just Biotherapeutics raised $15 million in its first Series A in September, along with a $24 million grant award from the Gates Foundation for its HIV-antibody work. The new investment capital will be used to build a laboratory and to pilot manufacturing.
Renewable energy. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has committed $10 million to its first renewable energy investment. Mainstream Renewable Power is focused on expanding renewable energy in Africa. The commitment is part of a $117.5 million funding round that is also backed by the International Finance Corporation. For the New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund, launched by heirs to the Standard Oil fortune, the investment is part of a shift of investments out of the fossil fuels industry. The investment is part of the fund’s $97.5 million impact investing portfolio, which comprises about 12 percent of the fund's total investments.
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Private healthcare. Kenya’s Sidian Bank and the Medical Credit Fund have formed a 4 billion Kenyan shilling ($4 million) loan fund for private healthcare providers in Kenya. The partnership fund aims to provide low-cost and flexible debt for 2,500 health providers to use for equipment and facilities. It will issue loans up to $2.5 million. The goal of the three-year investment facility is to improve healthcare access and services in Kenya by expanding private providers’ reach and capabilities. Private facilities make up about 35 percent of Kenyan’s healthcare sector.
Impact in India. Bangalore-based Menterra Venture Advisors has made investments in medical diagnostics company Biosense Technologies and agri-business venture Nubesol. Biosense, which was incubated by Villgro, makes low-cost tools for diagnosing diabetes, anemia and other diseases that are in use in 2,000 Indian villages. Nubesol helps Indian sugar farmers increase their yields and reduce their costs.
Menterra was started in January backed by 40 crore rupees ($6 million) from investors. Biosense and Nubesol are its second and third investments. Menterra has not disclosed the amounts of investments, but it typically invests between one and four crore rupees ($150,000 to $600,000) in early-stage social ventures. Menterra’s commitments were made with co-investments from Zurich-based Rianta Capital’s Artha Platform.
Peer-to-peer lending. U.K.-based ThinCats has launched a peer-to-peer lending platform, Community Chest, to provide unsecured loans to social ventures. Investors get a tax break: loans made through Community Chest qualify for up to a 30 percent tax reduction in the first year of a three-year loan. The platform’s first deal is a £500,000 ($660,000) loan to ART Business Loans, a community development finance institution focusing on small businesses.
DealFlow is ImpactAlpha's weekly roundup of what, where, how and why impact capital flowed each week… See more impact deals in ImpactAlpha's DealFlow section. And send your deal news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit: ShareAmerica via Eneza Education