This week: The investment winds are blowing for both small- and large-scale wind deals; the Kresge Foundation pledges $20 million to early childhood education in Detroit; and mom-and-pop shops in Peru and Venezuela may have more access to working capital to expand their businesses.
Big Investment in small-scale wind. United Wind has received $200 million in financing from Forum Equity Partners in what is the largest single investment in small-scale wind projects. United Wind leases small wind turbines to properties of one acre or more to generate energy on-site and has developed more than two dozen projects for homes, farms and industrial facilities. With Toronto-based Forum’s investment, the company expects to add an additional 1,000 projects in the U.S. United Wind launched in 2013 with $25 million from GSG Energy Finance and received $13.5 million from New York's state-sponsored NY Green Bank and U.S. Bancorp last October.
Larger wind project gets backing as well. Aegon Asset Management and La Banque Postale Asset Management have invested €70 million ($76 million) in a more traditional wind project: an offshore wind farm in the German North Sea. The Dutch and French financial services companies, which manage €342 billion and €150 billion in assets respectively, made the investment to demonstrate “commitment to a low-carbon energy future,” according to Aegon’s statement. The 288-megawatt “Meerwind” wind farm is comprised of 80 Siemens wind turbines that have been running since January last year. It has been given the lowest level investment-grade rating by Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poors.
Kresge PRI backs early childhood centers in Detroit. The Kresge Foundation has pledged $20 million over the next five years to renovate and build early childhood education centers in Detroit, Michigan. It coincides with the release of a new report on early education access in the city. The first part of its commitment is a $3 million program-related investment, or PRI, to the Illinois Facilities Fund, a non-profit investor, that will be used to renovate and expand existing centers. Kresge backed the PRI with $1 million in technical assistance and design, planning and development grants. The pledge is part of Kresge's Early Years for Success initiative and expects to serve 1,000 children annually starting in early 2017.
Accion backs Tienda Pago to finance mom-and-pop shops in LatAm. Accion has invested an undisclosed amount into Tienda Pago – a financial services firm that supports small retail businesses in Latin America. The small investment was made through Accion’s $10 million Venture Lab initiative that provides start-up funding for companies focused on financial inclusion. Tiendo Pago focuses on providing working capital loans, mobile banking and lines of credit to hundreds of mom-and-pop shops in Peru, Venezuela, and soon, Mexico. These products have helped them to increase their sales volume by 15 to 20 percent, the firm claims. Tiendo Pago is Venture Lab’s tenth investment.
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