The Brief | May 8, 2018

A #MeToo moment for impact investing, unlocking refugee talent, a fund for black women founders

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Opportunity Collaboration reckons with a #MeToo moment in impact investing. Powerbrokers have become pariahs in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Washington, Wall Street and beyond. Claims of sexual harassment have roiled the social-impact world as well, leading to resignations at the nonprofit Defy Ventures and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. At this week’s Opportunity Collaboration gathering in Florida, delegates reckoned with the absence of the event’s founder and longtime president, entrepreneur and author Jonathan Lewis. Lewis has relinquished his roles and agreed to stay away from the event due to violations of the organization’s anti-harassment policy.

Organizers tried to face head-on the murmuring discussion and questions at the first Opportunity Collaboration since complaints surfaced at the event in Mexico last fall. Delegates saw a highly-produced three-minute video at the opening session Sunday night that addressed Lewis’ departure. “Our founder overstepped some boundaries and he is no longer with us,” Akaya Winwood, president of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and a conference partner, says in the video. “We hold him as accountable to what we believe in as we hold everyone in our community.” As we have seen in other fields, more shoes will likely drop as impact investing grapples with its own #MeToo moment.

Read, “Opportunity Collaboration reckons with its #MeToo moment,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Unlocking the value of refugee talent. It’s not easy to find work when you’ve lost your home and many of your rights. There’s increasing evidence of the economic contribution of migrants – when they’re given the chance. Of the 22.5 million refugees in the world, the U.N. says less than 1% are resettled and able to look for jobs. To better capture the lost talent, the U.N. last month launched a 10-point plan to help refugees find jobs and integrate more smoothly in host countries.

  • Labor mobility pathways… Talent Beyond Boundaries, backed by foundations and the U.S. State Department, has created a “talent catalog” of the skills of 10,000 refugees to match them with employers. Its pilot project in Jordan and Lebanon, launched in 2016, reportedly had matched only three refugees with jobs as of March. “This is about opening up an entirely new labor mobility pathway, so the social impact vastly exceeds the invested costs,” says Talent Beyond Borders’ Sayre Nyce.
  • Private sector solutions… Billionaire George Soros in 2016 pledged to invest $500 million in refugee-support projects and companies. Other companies and wealthy individuals that have taken up the challengeinclude Thyssenkrupp, LinkedIn and the American yogurt maker Chobani.
  • 10-point plan… The U.N.’s suggestions include: helping refugees navigate the host country’s administrative framework; providing employers with legal certainty; verifying refugees’ skills; training; matching refugees with appropriate employers; making the business case for hiring refugees; and coordinating the needs and actions of refugees, communities and employers.

– Lou Del Bello

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Backstage Capital looks to raise $36 million for black female founders. Arlan Hamilton’s venture capital firm Backstage Capital invests in underrepresented entrepreneurs. In its new fund, Backstage is focused specifically on black women founders. Learn more.

CleanCapital acquires solar projects in California and Vermont. The acquisition follows the formation last month of a $250 million partnership with CarVal Investors, founded by agricultural giant Cargill. Get the details.

Tyson Ventures backs Israeli lab-grown meat startup Future Meat. The corporate venture arm of Tyson Foods led a $2.2 million round of funding for Future Meat, which is in a race to bring lab-grown meat to market cost-effectively. Read more.

Mandaê raises $7.1 million from IFC and corporate venture funds. Mandaê offers a pick up and packaging service specifically for small e-commerce businesses so they can outsource their delivery operations. Dig in.

— May 8, 2018