The Brief | January 3, 2023

The Brief: The Liist of new impact funds, sustainable development in Nepal, solar refrigerators, ESG predictions for 2023

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Happy New Year, Agents of Impact, and a warm welcome to all of the new subscribers who joined over the holidays. Please reach out and let us know what you’re up to. 

Featured: The Liist

Seven impact funds that are raising capital now (January 2023). The holiday season didn’t slow impact fund managers. This month’s Liist, in partnership with Realize Impact, features seven funds in full fundraising mode. In Senegal, WIC Capital is leveraging the investment power of women in business, as well as local and international investors, to support female entrepreneurs. WIC, for Women’s Investment Club, is backed by Senegalese businesswomen who invest their own capital alongside institutional investors. “100% of these entrepreneurs are thinking about the community, about the jobs they’re creating, and about the environment,” WIC’s Evelyne Dioh told ImpactAlpha in 2021. “Their focus is not just on the core business, which is always impactful, but across the value chain.” In Canada, TAS is supporting real estate projects that drive local and equitable value-creation. Upstart Co-Lab’s new Inclusive Creative Economy Strategy aims to funnel capital from investors and foundations to entrepreneurs in the U.S.’s creative industries. 

  • Impact tech. In Bangalore, Menterra is raising a second fund to back early-stage impact tech startups addressing India’s healthcare, education and agriculture needs. TEAMFund in the U.S. is zeroing in on technologies meeting the healthcare needs of underserved patients and over-stretched health systems in the U.S., India and Africa.
  • Climate and natural capital. Blackhorn Ventures in Colorado is raising its second Industrial Impact Fund to green resource- and carbon-intensive industries like transportation, energy and real estate. Climate Asset Management in the U.K. is in the market with two strategies to cultivate value from natural resources in Europe and emerging markets.
  • For more details, keep reading, “The Liist: Seven impact funds that are raising capital now,” edited by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha. Earlier editions of The Liist feature dozens more funds. Know of an impact fund manager currently raising capital? Drop us an email or submit this form.

Dealflow: Impact in Nepal

Dolma Impact Fund raises $72 million for sustainable development in Nepal. The private equity fund received commitments for its second impact fund from global development finance institutions, such as British International Investment, FMO, Swedfund, the International Finance Corp. and the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. Japan International Cooperation Agency joined with a late $10 million allocation. Dolma Impact Fund II will invest with a gender lens in clean energy, e-commerce, health tech, edtech and fintech companies and projects in Nepal. Dolma says it aims to boost inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Nepal and catalyze more private equity investments. Dolma Impact Fund launched its first fund in 2014, about a year before the Gorkha earthquake triggered an extended economic crisis in Nepal. 

  • Clean energy. Nepal is expected to play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in South Asia, with around 42,000 megawatts of hydropower generation potential, says Dolma Impact. NMB Bank Nepal secured $25 million from BII late last year to finance 50 megawatts of new clean energy projects.
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Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Pune-based Ecozen raised $10 million from Nuveen Global Fund as part of its Series C round to make solar-powered refrigerators and irrigation systems for India’s agriculture sector.
  • South Africa’s Solarise Africa secured $3 million from the E.U.’s ElectriFI Electrification Financing Initiative for commercial and industrial solar installations.
  • ASN Bank re-upped its investment in Symbiotics’ debt fund for micro, small and mid-sized businesses in Africa.
  • Visa Foundation invested €5 million ($5.3 million) in Amsterdam’s gender-focused Borski Fund. 

Signals: Trending in 2023

Big ideas and predictions for ESG in 2023. ESG – for environmental, social and governance considerations in enterprise operations and investment decision-making – took a beating from all sides last year. As ImpactAlpha’s David Bank wrote in our 2023 lookahead, ESG was seen as both “a barely disguised conspiracy to undermine capitalism or toothless box-ticking designed to pump up wealth-management fees.” Rather, he said, the metrics may one day be seen as having “helped distinguish the leaders who ushered in an economy built around sustainability, inclusion and equity from the laggards who tried to block it.” In other year-end roundups, ESG practitioners agreed climate change and regulation will dominate ESG debates this year. Some trends to watch:

  • Proof points. ESG may be a hot button issue, but research over the past year shows strong support for the practice from businesses, investors and the general public. In a guest post on ImpactAlpha, Manifest Social’s Ryon Harms rounds up a baker’s dozen of ESG studies that make the case. 
  • Opportunities for transparency, governance and impact. Investment research firm MSCI identified 32 trends including: Changing ESG fund names and labels. The rise of female corporate directors in Asia. New frontiers in lab-grown commodities. Sustainable cotton alternatives. Understanding the trends “will be a first step in assessing the potential impact they could have on investment portfolios,” writes MSCI’s Meggin Thwing Eastman.
  • Premium on quality data. Growing demand from investors and increased regulatory scrutiny have put a premium on quality ESG data, says EY’s Narendra Tiwari. In the coming year, adds Tiwari, more investors will seek accurate and reliable data, enabled by new digital reporting technologies, “to make more informed decisions about where to allocate their capital.”
  • Strong leaders will seize the moment. Instability in the economy will strengthen the hand of business leaders with long-term views, finds the Aspen Institute, which surveyed executives, journalists and scholars. Political posturing and increased scrutiny are “good for ESG,” says Thornburg’s Jake Walko. “It’s about growing ESG literacy – the noise and even the need to work through misinformation help build the understanding.” In 2023, strong leaders will seize the opportunity that exists to green the economy “to position and lead transformation, rather than retreat on talent or ambition,” says BCG’s Dave Young.
  • Impact startups will mitigate corporate risks. Social impact and sustainability discourse has improved exponentially in recent years; implementation and execution remains murky and patchy, says Microsoft’s Samira Khan. Among Khan’s #BigIdeas2023: Disruptive climate and impact startups will support the demand for better execution. Investment will flow to climate startups in 2023. The “S,” for social, “will also be an opportunity area,” says Khan, as corporates ramp up their focus on human capital in supply chains, including modern slavery in the fashion industry.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

TruFund Financial Services is looking for an impact investment officer in New York… Boston Consulting Group is recruiting a project leader or principal for climate and sustainability… Time’s CO2 division seeks a carbon market strategist in San Francisco… Boston Trust Walden Company seeks an ESG analyst… The Nature Conservancy seeks a state director for Arkansas in Little Rock.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is hiring a program officer for digital learning research and development in Seattle… Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is looking for a program officer for diversity, equity and inclusion in science in Redwood City, Calif… The World Resources Institute is hiring a director for the intergovernmental High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People secretariat in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area.

The Rockefeller Foundation is accepting applications for its summer internship program… The U.N. Environment Programme is looking for a communications and data analysis intern for its Net-Zero Banking Alliance… Ceres will host its Ceres Global gathering March 22-24 in New York and is accepting applications for registration scholarships.

Thank you for your impact.

– Jan. 3, 2023