SolarCity: Rocky Road to Solar ‘Grand Slam’

Successful impact investors see around corners, bank on long-term trends and shrewdly assess risk. Oh, and it also helps to know Elon Musk. DBL Investors, a $225 million impact investment firm  in San Francisco, had all of those factors going for its investment in SolarCity, now the largest solar installer in the country, worth nearly

Beyond Carbon: Althelia Climate Fund Attracts Conservation Investors

Multiple cash flows. Clear environmental benefits. Enhanced rural livelihoods. Strong local partners. Guarantees against losses. Market-rate returns. The Althelia Climate Fund, based in Luxemburg and London, has packaged many of the elements that bankers and conservationists alike say are necessary to attract private capital to large-scale ecosystem conservation projects around the world. The most recent

Media Development Investment Fund: Banking on a Free Press

The Media Development Loan Fund began making equity investments more than 15 years ago. Last year, it finally changed its name to Media Development Investment Fund. The new name also better reflects the broader approach of the “media bank.” It takes more than financing to create strong, independent media companies in chaotic political and social environments.

Revolution Foods: Healthy Food for Healthier Students

Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey faced a fundamental design constraint when they launched Revolution Foods on the site of a former McDonald’s near Oakland, Calif.: About $3 for each lunch served. The UC Berkeley Haas Business School graduates were designing a line of healthy, nutritionally balanced meals for California’s primary and secondary school students, and

Greyston Bakery: A Social Enterprise That Tastes Good and Does Good

Little did you know but that pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream you polished off last night helped create jobs for people who face barriers to employment in a struggling section of Yonkers, outside New York City. Ben & Jerry’s sources its brownies from Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, which turns out

How ‘Happy Family’ Became Healthy Baby-Food Pioneers

Shazi Visram and Jessica Rolph launched Happy Family on Mothers’ Day in 2006 with the mission of making organic, nutrient-rich baby food widely available and affordable. Now mothers themselves, Visram and Rolph gave a Mothers’ Day present to investors last year: the announcement that Happy Family was being acquired by French food giant Danone, reportedly,

Gram Vaani: Social Networks for the Global Poor

Unfinished health care clinics and schools being completed across India. Widows of deceased migrant workers receiving their due compensation. Farmers accessing information to increase productivity. Fishermen sharing weather information. India’s poor are finding a voice—or more accurately, a social media platform to share it—on Mobile Vaani, the largest voice-based social media platform in the world. Mobile