ImpactAlpha, Dec. 28 – Of course we follow the money. But ImpactAlpha also follows the talent.
In dozens of profiles this year, we highlighted Agents of Impact who are breaking old rules, demonstrating new models and driving social and environmental benefits.
Impact is a team sport, so we also saluted young climate leaders, climate scientists, universal owners, green Nobel Prize winners, India’s citizen-responders, students of impact, Georgia’s organizers and, of course, friends of ImpactAlpha.
And you are all Agents of Impact. Let’s take a end-of-year spin through a dozen that stood out:
Donnel Baird, BlocPower
Baird is ‘turning buildings into Teslas.’ BlocPower, the climate tech startup he founded with Morris Cox in 2014 helps utilities, government agencies and property owners retrofit city buildings in underserved communities. BlocPower finances eco-friendly electric heating and cooling systems for small and mid-sized property owners at no up-front cost.
Dawn Lippert, Elemental Excelerator and Earthshot Ventures
For more than a decade with Elemental Excelerator, Lippert has been plugging capital gaps for community-focused, early-stage climate startups. Earthshot Ventures, her $60 million venture fund, is mobilizing commercial and institutional capital to scale solutions in every community.
Chris Sacca, Lowercarbon Capital
A Google executive-turned-venture capitalist, Sacca made early bets on Uber, Twitter and other rocket ships. Sacca joined the fight against climate change in the hopes of “unf**cking the planet.” With his wife, Crystal, and Clay Dumas, he is amassing a portfolio of “kickass companies” tackling some of the thorniest climate challenges.
Jessica Brooks, Sunwealth
Sunwealth uses unused rooftops of schools, churches and apartment buildings to build community-scale solar projects. Brooks sees a trillion-dollar opportunity to generate a quarter of the U.S.’s energy needs. The company shares the benefits of clean energy and next-economy jobs with low-income communities and underserved areas.
Konda Mason, Jubilee Justice
Mason made the move from managing jazz musicians to financing regenerative farmers, most of whom are Black. She’s helping hundreds of farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi raise yields and income while reducing methane and water use with a proven system of rice intensification.
Charlie Penner, Engine No. 1
Penner was the architect of Engine’s “reenergize Exxon” campaign. He kept a low-profile as he pressed his case through wonky papers and (virtual) meetings with investors such as CalSTRs and Blackstone – and helped put three insurgent directors on the oil giant’s board.
Bill Bynum, Hope
Hope, based in Jackson, Miss., has generated nearly $3 billion in financing across economically disadvantaged communities since Bynum founded the community development financial institution and credit union in 1994. This year, he has raked in large commitments as corporations increased their allocation to community lenders and minority-owned financial institutions.
Aunnie Patton Power, impact advisor and author
Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Patton Power teaches impact investing, advises on impact deal structuring and recently published Adventure Finance to explore creative financing structures for entrepreneurs and investors. Her latest project, Impact Finance Pro, is a recruitment platform for impact investing newbies and career-switchers.
Tatenda Furusa, ImaliPay
Following a tragedy in Nairobi, Furusa borrowed $10,000 from his family in Zimbabwe and launched ImaliPay to provide fintech services for Africa’s self-employed, freelance and informal gig workers. The startup aims to be a one-stop shop for savings, credit and insurance services.
Heather Fleming, Change Labs
Fleming’s entrepreneurship incubator has supported hundreds of Navajo and Hopi-run businesses in Navajo Nation, the largest tribal community in the U.S. She is building an umbrella organization of Native-led entities to support entrepreneurs across Indian Country.
Charles King, Macro
A former Hollywood super agent, King founded film finance and production company Macro to put the voices and perspectives of persons of color in front of mass audiences. Macro has produced a slate of films and TV shows, including Judas and the Black Messiah and Just Mercy, financed, he says, by investors who “saw the impact side, but most importantly, the business opportunity.”
Cathy Clark, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business
The faculty director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Fuqua, Clark estimates she has influenced the careers of more than 100,000 learners. With the U.N. Development Programme, Clark created a free online training to help enterprises and investors measure and manage their progress toward the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.