Mexican impact fund raises via public markets. Venture capital firm IGNIA has reached a $90 million first close on its second fund with commitments from domestic pension funds. The Mexican pension funds, which were restricted from private equity investments until 2009, backed the fund through publicly traded certificates called “Structured Equity Securities” or CKDs. CKDs were established during the global economic recession as a work-around — Mexican financial regulations dictated that pension funds could only invest in public securities. The goal was to get more investment capital into private companies and infrastructure projects.
Goldman backs low-cost solar with equity. Goldman Sachs is making strides to invest $150 billion in clean energy in the next 10 years – but some strides will be small. The investment bank has taken an undisclosed equity position in PosiGen Solar Solutions, a Louisiana-based solar energy company. The company installs solar panels on residential homes and currently serves 7,500 customers in the U.S. Goldman had previously offered the company a working capital loan. The bank’s equity investment – made through its community-focused Urban Investment Group – intends to help the company grow its services for low and moderate income households. PosiGen’s “Make Power–Save Power” focuses on bringing low cost solar panels and energy efficient home upgrades to economically distressed communities to help families to save on energy costs. The company estimates its current customers will collectively save $9.5 million annually in utility costs.
Elevar Closes India, Latin America Fund. Elevar Equity has raised a $74 million third fund that is geared toward improving basic services in low-income communities in India and Latin America. The Seattle-based impact venture capital firm has made several investments with its third fund already, including two financial services institutions in India and one in Peru. In all, Elevar reports that it has invested in more than 20 companies that have collectively raised $7 billion of equity and debt. Investors in the new fund – Elevar Equity III, LP – include Rockefeller Brothers Fund, JP Morgan Chase, Omidyar Network, Prudential Financial and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Philippine media group gets investment boost. Omidyar Network has invested in Philippines-based digital media company Rappler Holdings Corporation. Rappler is an online social news network whose mission is to “inspire community engagement and digitally fueled actions for social change,” with a heavy focus on citizen journalism. It also includes a feature to capture its readers’ emotional reactions to its stories. The media platform, which launched in 2012, claims to the Philippines first all-digital news organization. Omidyar’s investment was amid a fundraising push in which Rapper is hoping to attract more foreign investors. It is one of only three media companies to issue Philippine Depositary Receipts, which is a way of offering common stock to foreign investors – currently prohibited in the Philippines. Rappler was previously backed in a seed funding round by North Base Media, a fund started by three prominent international journalists to finance independent media outlets.
Microfinance fund offers fresh loan to Armenian lender. BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund has committed $3 million to support small businesses in Armenia. The Geneva-based commercial microfinance fund provided loan to Armenian bank, Armeconombank, which will finance Armenian businesses.
Armenia has an active – and tightly regulated – microfinance sector, with other players including Oikocredit and French bank Credit Agricole. BlueOrchard has a history with the bank having made its first investment in Armeconombank in 2010 – $4 million of a larger $10 million loan – to support its local lending mission. Armeconombank is formerly a state-owned bank, which has since become a “joint stock bank”, meaning that it is partially owned by non-government and foreign shareholders. Its largest foreign owner is the London-based development financial institution, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which holds 20 percent of shares.
NFF financing supports California family services. The Nonprofit Finance Fund has provided $750,000 in financing to a family services organization in California's Bay Area. Brighter Beginnings offers a range of programs including medical services, early-childhood programs, and mental health services within economically disadvantaged communities. The organization has accepted a $350,000 loan and a $400,000 line of credit from NFF to grow the reach of its clinics from 1,100 patients to over 9,000 within the next two years. Brighter Beginnings plans to offer primary and behavioral care services at its East Bay clinics in Richmond and Antioch, pending approval from the federal Health Center Program.