Rather than slow down this summer, impact finance seemed to be scaling up with follow-on funding for growing ventures and seed funding for several promising social ventures.
Solar series. Off-grid solar company BBOXX closed a $20 million Series C investment to help the company to expand in markets in West Africa and Cameroon. The round was backed by investors MacKinnon, Bennett & Company, ENGIE Rassembleurs d'Energies and a new $100 million private equity fund: KawiSafi Ventures. Existing investors Khosla Impact Fund, Bamboo Finance and DOEN Foundation also participated in the round. Since its launch in 2010, BBOXX has brought home-based solar power to more than 350,000 people in 35 countries. In Rwanda, its customer base is likely to surpass the national grid’s by the end of this year.
Medical devices. Venture capital firm Houston Health Ventures has invested an undisclosed amount into LegWorks, a San Francisco-based social enterprise that builds affordable, durable prosthetics for below-the-knee amputees. Its first product—the All-Terrain Knee—is a water-resistant, high activity knee that is priced in line with what U.S. insurance providers will cover, compared to the typical price range of $25,000 to $50,000 for competing products. The product is currently available in the U.S. and Europe, but is not being sold globally, where more than 90 percent of leg-amputees are unable to access prosthetics. Houston Health Venture’s investment will help LegWorks to expand its customer-base in its existing markets.
Transport transparency. South African transportation startup WhereIsMyTransport has raised $1.5 million of a target $2.6 million seed round. Participating investors so far include Goodwell, Omidyar Network and Horizon Ventures. WhereIsMyTransport is building an open platform for both formal and informal transport users in growing emerging market cities. The cloud-based platform aims to help commuters map urban transit routes, while collecting transit pattern data in cities where low-income commuters spend as much as 46 percent of their monthly income on transportation. So far the platform includes data for formal transport modes in South Africa’s major urban hubs, and has recently added Dar es Salaam’s BRT system and Cairo’s metro system. Its next phase is to add Nairobi’s informal taxi networks into the system.
Agtech. Bangalore-based agriculture tech startup CropIn Technology Solutions has raised $2 million in equity from Sophia Investment in a transaction that reportedly valued the company at $12 million, according to TechCircle. CropIn is a cloud-based platform that provides technical assistance and supply chain and crop tracking for small farmers. Sophia Investment is a Danish social enterprise foundation that invests in South Asian and African companies providing financial and livelihood services for the poor. This deals marks its first investment in India. CropIn was supported in a previous financing round by Ankur Capital, which took a 30 percent stake of the venture through a convertible debt investment.
DC finance. Washington, D.C.'s Innovation Finance Fund has made a $485,000 investment in startup GoodWorld, matching an investment made by 1776, Fenway Summer Ventures and Nyca Partners in January of last year. GoodWorld is a charitable donation platform that allows users to donate to causes through sites like Facebook and Twitter by linking PayPal to their social media accounts and using the hashtag #donate. The new funding from the D.C. government will support GoodWorld in working towards a Series A round. GoodWorld is the second organization to receive backing from the D.C. Innovation Finance Fund, which aims to incentivize private investment in local District businesses by offering a financing match.
Institutional capital. BlackRock has launched an impact bond fund as part of its $200 billion sustainable investment platform. The fund will focus on fixed-income investments, which will include corporate bonds for companies that actively focus on social and environmental outcomes, including corporate citizenship, high impact disease research and greenhouse gas emissions. The BlackRock Impact Bond Fund will be run by the asset manager’s Model Based Fixed Income team.
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Image credit: BBOXX