Mitigating the carbon risks lurking in your 401(k). Employees in the U.S. with company-sponsored retirement plans are financing carbon-intensive companies and are disproportionately exposed to the climate-related risks such companies face, according to a recent report from the Business Climate Finance Initiative in collaboration with Mercer and the CFA Institute. Two guest posts on ImpactAlpha explore how companies – and employees – can reduce the climate-risk exposure of the roughly $8 trillion in assets held in more than 100 million 401(k) employee retirement plans across the U.S.
Dealflow: Africa's Cold Chain
A $150 million fund aims to curb food waste by investing in Africa’s cold chain. Fragmented supply chains, inadequate technology and unpredictable power cause nearly half of food produced in Africa to go to waste. Investors led by African Infrastructure Investment Managers will invest $150 million in strengthening Africa’s cold chain. Cold trucks, storage and related infrastructure are “critical for improving sub-Saharan Africa’s food security; allowing domestic producers to meet the standards required to participate in global trade; and creating higher-value jobs through more formal food retail and wholesale models,” said AIIM’s Damilola Agbaje. AIIM has taken a controlling stake in South Africa's CCS Logistics, a 50-year-old logistics company with six facilities in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Walvis Bay, Namibia. Bauta Logistics and Mokobela Shakati joined the deal and will partner with AIIM on its cold chain investment arm, Commercial Cold Holdings.
Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
Guillaume Abel, ex- of Ostrum Asset Management, joins Mirova as deputy CEO… Sébastien Duquet, formerly with Symbiotics, joins Mirova SunFunder to lead its climate fund (see, "The LiiST: Seven impact funds that are raising capital now")… KPMG promotes John McCalla-Leacy to global head of ESG… Aligned Climate Capital promotes Nneka (Uzoh) Kibuule to principal… Energize Ventures makes four hires: Jeff Smith, ex- of Norwest Venture Partners, joins as head of commercialization; David Yi joins as portfolio finance specialist; and Meredith Breach, ex- of Vista Equity Partners, and Jarell Mason, ex- of Houston Impact Fund, join as senior investment associates.
Access Ventures seeks new ways to lower costs for the housing insecure
ImpactAlpha, Sept. 3 – It’s expensive to be poor in America. Low- and moderate-income communities face a shortage of at least 7.2 million affordable housing units.
With its Reconstruct Challenge, Louisville-based Access Ventures, aims to identify approaches to reduce ancillary costs, including transportation and food costs, that can push many families’ total housing costs north of 50% of disposable incomes, founder Bryce Butler told ImpactAlpha.
The impact investment firm awarded $1.8 million in grants to a half-dozen companies to test and evaluate innovations in Louisville and southern Indiana over the next 18 months.
The group includes Austin’s Haven Connect, which has brought online the affordable housing application process. Nesterly, based in New York, connects elderly homeowners with excess space in their homes with younger, medium to long-term renters. Atlanta’s Padsplit provides furnished housing via a “membership” that includes rent, utilities and parking for a fixed, weekly price.
Urban Institute, a Washington DC think-tank, will test a new micro mortgage product to streamline downpayment costs and fees for affordable homes. Chicago-based mRelief streamlines the process for accessing food stamp benefits. New Directions, the one Louisville-based company selected, helps employers boost employee retention by providing downpayment assistance.
“Housing is necessary but not sufficient,” said Living Cities’ Ben Hecht in a keynote at the Louisville event where the awardees were selected. “We have to re-knit our social fabric so that citizens actually care about each other.”
The Reconstruct Challenge will provide the companies a stipend and executive education course to support impact measurement. Access Ventures is also reserving another $1 million for follow capital to help scale successful tests.
The investment firm contracted with a local company to evaluate the efficacy of the solutions, as well as the effectiveness of the process itself as a mechanism for financing innovation.
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