Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!
#Featured: Open Mic
Africa’s women entrepreneurs are ready for financing. Africa has a robust pipeline of investable, women-founded, women-led and women-focused businesses. What it doesn’t have is enough women making investment decisions in institutions that control the flow of capital. More women in venture capital funds, private equity funds, banks and other funding will counter biases that lock female founders out of funding and grow the number of female-founded businesses.
With Isis Nyong’o Madison, of the online platform for women in Kenya, MumsVillage, Suzanne Biegel of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative reflects on the path forward for gender-lens investing in Africa. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” Biegel writes. “To bring capital to these businesses, we need women investing in women as much as we need more men investing in women. It matters who has access to capital, who directs capital and how power structures are formed.”
Read Suzanne Biegel on “Five Ways to Advance Gender Lens Investing in Africa”:
How high is your Impact IQ? Take Jérôme Tagger’s Brief Quiz № 15:
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Bunker raises $6 million for insurance marketplace for small businesses. The Omidyar Network led the Series A funding for Bunker, which offers insurance products for leases, service agreements, loan obligations and other small-business issues. The platform aims to make it easier for small businesses to protect themselves from legal and business risks as work becomes more contract-based. Bunker also makes it easier for larger companies to hire independent contractors and small businesses as vendors. “With the continued rise of the gig economy and the sheer speed of business relationships, we need more flexible insurance products delivered in the simplest and quickest way,” says Omidyar’s Rob Veres.
Seed funding for eVote will help launch voting and polling platform. The non-governmental voting platform is intended for opinion gathering and surveying of large groups to drive decision-making in businesses and communities. eVote’s market positioning as a social awareness and transparency tool helped it secure $3 million in seed funding from London-based social tech investor SGO. SGO has been searching for “tools and solutions that will expand the infrastructure for democracy in the 21st century.” eVote’s Julie Sun says that existing survey tools are labor intensive to set up and often not reuseable. “It is also a rather taxing experience for participants,” Sun told ImpactAlpha, adding that eVote’s approach favors “bite-size voting experiences.” Other startups are working on solutions to improve transparency in governmental voting, like blockchain-based Voatz and Clear Ballot.
Innova Memphis raises $31 million to fund U.S. agriculture innovation. The fund, the fourth for Innova, has been certified as a Rural Business Investment Company, a category that requires 75 percent of funds be invested in communities of 50,000 people or less, and at least 50 percent in businesses. Innova, based in Memphis, Tenn., is trying to spur early-stage agtech development within farming communities, rather than in tech hubs like Silicon Valley. “I think companies should be where their customers are,” says Innova’s Jan Bouten. Innova got its start in 2007 as part of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation’s effort to spur high-growth tech companies in the Memphis area.
See all of ImpactAlpha’s recent #dealflow.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
An index for inclusive growth opportunities. A new tool from Morgan Stanley and the Economist’s Intelligence Unit ranks tech-driven opportunities in 20 countries across finance, education, healthcare and gender equity. Among the takeaways: income inequality in the U.S. is more akin to China, Argentina and Turkey than to the U.K., the Netherlands or Australia. Technology can leapfrog stages of development in least-developed markets, but investments are hampered by the lack of digital literacy, along with basic services like energy, clean water and sanitation. The 150 metrics are combined into 50 indicators across inequality, housing affordability, healthcare costs, education gaps, financial inclusion for women and the digital divide.
SOCAP’s Good Capital Project aims to shape the future of impact investing. The first initiative from the new backers of SOCAP is a one-day event in New York on June 19. The Good Capital Project has the ambition of “bringing the best minds together to set daring goals for the future of impact investing.” The two-year initiative will include efforts that roll up into the fall SOCAP conference in San Francisco. Among the five reasons organizers give for attending: “It is time to create a truly collaborative way for industry practitioners to join forces to drive the future of impact investing.” ImpactAlpha is a media sponsor of the event; it’s not too late to get the early-bird discount, which ends tonight at midnight.
The five skills you need to thrive in 2030. “It’s the cliched hope of the paranoid parent that teaching Chinese will best prepare kids for a future of different power structures in geopolitics,” futurist Tom Goodwin writes in GQ. “But is that essential in a world of Google Translate?” We don’t need to teach kids how to code, he argues, we need to teach our children how to dream.
Goodwin calls this approach “outward-in” schooling. Yes, we need basic knowledge, says Goodwin. “Kids will struggle to communicate if they can’t spell at all, but when spell-checkers auto translate and software handles voice-to-text, maybe it’s not something to take up much time.”
For today’s five-year old who will be entering the working world in 2030, Goodwin advocates an “inward-out” approach to learning. The five most important skills: Learn how to build relationships, to listen and converse. Foster curiosity, because when all information is available, our imagination is the only limit. Build agility, since we really don’t know what jobs will exist in 2030. Teach creativity, as ideas generate value and will so in the future. Encourage empathy, because in a divided world it’s essential to know what it’s like to be different. If we succeed, Goodwin promises, our kids will be “adaptable to change in a world we cannot foresee.”
That’s a wrap for this week, have a great weekend! Thanks for reading. Please send any news and comments to [email protected].