Beats | May 1, 2018

Addiction-lens investing, finance for peace, affordable housing in Palestine, TPG’s big deal in China

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: Returns on Investment (podcast)

Pain Killers: How can impact investors help stop the opioid addiction epidemic? If impact investors are worth their salt, they’ll soon –– if not soon enough –– come up with a whole raft of investible solutions to the crushing burden of opioid addiction. The problem may have snuck up over the past decade, but there’s no escaping the costs of the crisis now. Action has been slow to mobilize on the front of positive impact to reverse the epidemic. “Why hasn’t the impact community embraced this issue more aggressively, given that it ticks so many boxes of things they care about and things they are good at?” Imogen Rose-Smith wonders in the latest episode of ImpactAlpha’s Returns on Investment podcast. “I’m surprised the voice of the impact community hasn’t been louder.”

Investors, and many others, can be overwhelmed by large, complex problems. Climate-change, for example, is at least as multi-faceted and huge, but there now exists a coordinated set of activities for combating it. AIDS presented novel scientific and social challenges, but the health crisis came under control after decades of dedicated efforts. It would be wrong to say that the opioid crisis is insoluble, or that it won’t in time be solved. The floor is open for both practical and innovative approaches to reducing the burden of addiction. What are you seeing, hearing or doing? Drop a note to [email protected].

Read on and listen in to the latest Returns on Investment podcast, “How can impact investors help stop the opioid addiction epidemic?”

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Janis Bowdler was named president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, which has launched Financial Solutions Lab, PRO Neighborhoods and Entrepreneurs of Color funds in Detroit, South Bronx and San Francisco… Andrew Collins, ex- of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, is the new director of responsible investing at the San Francisco Employee Retirement System… Finance in Motion in Frankfurt, Germany is hiring a senior officer on their impact management team.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Building peace through innovative finance. Durreen Shahnaz, founder of the Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), told the United Nations General Assembly, “If we can promote inclusion and close inequality gaps in our financial and economic systems, we can tackle a crucial source of conflict.” Shahnaz organized the $8 million Women’s Livelihood Bond on the Singapore Stock Exchange and recently announced plans for a women’s health bond for the U.S. She won an award last year from the Global Impact Investing Steering Group. In New York last week, she told the UN, “I stand before you not only as an expert on innovative finance but also as a woman whose life has been shaped by wars.” More excerpts from the speech.

  • Building peace… “We have grown from thinking of peace as something we keep, to acknowledging peace as something we build… To create sustainable peace requires that we acknowledge that peace is not solely a product of policy but of today’s systems that each of us lives within.”
  • Innovative Finance for Sustainable Peace… seeks “to drive forward sustainable peace-building efforts across the globe — in post-conflict countries, countries with high-risk of conflict and countries seeking to mitigate rising threats of violence by creating systemic social-economic resilience.”

ImpactAlpha has identified a growing number of opportunities to invest in peace, justice and strong civic institutions. Track them on under “Democracy and Peace.”

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Calvert Impact Capital invests $5 million in Palestinian housing finance. Vitas Palestine is a microfinance institution that offers loans for small businesses and housing improvements for low-income Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Get the details.

Bill Gates, Dell Foundation back Unitus Ventures’ second fund. The tech veterans behind the fund formerly known as Unitus Seed Fund tapped repeat investors and high-profile U.S. and Indian investors for 1 billion rupees, or $15 million. Read more.

TPG’s Rise Fund invests in Baidu fintech spinoff. A trio of TPG funds, including its $2 billion Rise Fund, are investing $1 billion for a 26% share in Baidu’s financial services unit. The impact? “Lending to customers with limited access to credit and to education loans,” the firm says. Dig in.

Ankur Capital’s new fund for early-stage tech investments. The Mumbai-based firm is planning a new fund of up to $50 million for early-stage investments in fintech and other technology companies. Learn more.

— May 1, 2018