Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers! We’re taking a “Brief” break for the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., so we’re giving you a double-helping of impact today. We’re grateful to you all. See you back here on Monday.
#DoubleFeature: Two ImpactAlpha Originals
How one graphic artist is changing India’s male-dominated culture, one cartoon at a time. Even in Mumbai, India’s most modern city, women must still navigate an oppressive set of taboos. The unwritten rules make them cautious of their movements and their attire, restrict their behavior and infect their thinking. Roshnee Desai’s visual art challenges those social norms. Her works — short films, cartoons and even the upholstery in a Mumbai taxicab — all seek to get people thinking and talking about women’s rights and social issues.
In Episode №5 in ImpactAlpha’s Women Rising in India series, Esha Chhabra provides a guided tour of Desai’s work, which takes on not only sexual harassment but periods, bras, pads and other aspects of women’s everyday lives that are still sensitive in India. The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal №5 calls for the end of “all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.” As a graphic designer and visual artist, Desai is keen on infusing digital art with real-world issues. “It’s about educating and engaging men as much as it is about women,” she says. “It’s not one or other.” Dig in and have a look around Desai’s work. Then catch up on all the episodes of ImpactAlpha’s Women Rising in India series.
How are the world’s biggest asset owners playing the risks ahead? (podcast). No sooner had we recorded the latest episode of ImpactAlpha’sReturns on Investment podcast than Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund proposed dropping oil and gas companies from its index and its portfolio. Imogen Rose-Smith, now an investment fellow at the University of California’s president’s office, called up and graciously agreed to score one for ImpactAlpha’s David Bank. In the heated (but always friendly!) roundtable discussion, Imogen played the role of cautious realist to David’s blue-sky forecaster. At issue: the role of the world’s biggest asset owners in the rotation of capital toward sustainability and inclusion. Read on and listen in. Then subscribe to all of ImpactAlpha’s Returns on Investment podcasts.
#Sponsored: Bird + Stone
Holiday gifts that support gender equality. Gender equality is improving, but there are still huge strides to be made. More than 130 million girls are out of school. Reproductive health is inaccessible for too many women. Bird + Stone’s jewelry lets you support women and girls with donations to organizations moving the needle on girls’ education, women’s health and more. Their “Future is Female” cuff has raised $10,000 for Planned Parenthood of NYC — so far. Get 15% off your purchase with code IMPACTALPHA. Support women and girls this holiday season.
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
J.P. Morgan commits $2 million to support Chicago’s small businesses. The capital is part of a planned $40 million package to drive economic growth in Chicago’s distressed South and West sides. “We all know that Chicago is a segregated city and there’s not the same access and opportunities in some neighborhoods as others,” J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation’s Charlie Corrigan said. The funding was allocated to a half-dozen small-business support organizations including IFF Chicago, a real estate firm that supports non-profits in low-income communities. The others were 1871, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Blue1647, Women’s Business Development Center, World Business Chicago and Sunshine Enterprises. J.P. Morgan’s work in underserved urban communities includes a planned $150 million to invested in Detroit by 2020 and a recent $10 million commitment to Washington D.C.
Kauffman Foundation puts up $1.2 million for microlending to underserved entrepreneurs. The U.S. economy could add a million businesses and 9.5 million jobs if minorities started and owned companies at the same rate as whites, according to the Kauffman Foundation. The entrepreneurship-focused foundation will make grants of $300,000 to each of four microlenders in Kansas City, Missouri, including AltCap, Women’s Business Center, KC Hispanic Economic Development Corporation and Justine PETERSEN. The program is based on a Chicago initiative led by Jonathan Brereton, a principal at Revolve. “In Chicago we learned the key to improving sustainability among microlenders is developing the ability to sell microloans to local banks,” said Brereton. The initial capital will provide funds to 20 to 30 Kansas City businesses, says Brereton, a consultant to Kauffman. As the funds turn over, he says, “microlenders can help underserved entrepreneurs for years to come.”
ElderAid gets angel backing to care for India’s seniors. By 2025, 11% of India’s population will be over the age of 60, up from 7.5% today. ElderAid Wellness provides at-home care for India’s growing senior population. Co-founder Vandana Nadig Nair says multi-generational households are less common as Indian youths move in pursuit of job opportunities. Within her own family, she says, “my aunts and uncles in Bangalore with children in other cities and countries needed help and support.” ElderAid provides caretaker support, emergency assistance, bill payments, property management, and volunteer and hobby activities. The two-year-old enterprise raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from a Hong Kong-based investor. Earlier this year, Nestle began developing a line of senior nutrition products specifically for the Indian market.
NewSchools’ $1.5 million in grants seeds 15 early education ventures. The nonprofit venture fund divided the awards between 15 participants in NewSchools Ignite Early Learning, an accelerator focused on early childhood education. The cohort includes MIND Research Institute, which has a visually-based teaching method for mathematics, and WriteReader, a story writing and publishing program for early readers. The accelerator has backing from Omidyar Network and the Piton Foundation. NewSchool’s previous accelerator supported special education startups.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
Take more risks, and other venture-philanthropy takeaways. To back innovators solving hard problems we need to take more risks, pleaded Sean Hinton, CEO of Soros Economic Development Fund. In Oslo, Norway earlier this month, investors, grant-makers, banks and business schools met at the annual conference of the European Venture Philanthropy Association to boost capital flows and ecosystem support for social ventures taking on global challenges. We need to stop the mantra on scale, said Paul Streets, CEO of the Lloyds Bank Foundation and “focus and discuss much more around why we are here and what is happening on the ground.” To go further, said NESsT’s Roxana Damaschin-Tecu, we need to better match capital to the needs of social ventures. “It’s seeing capital as the means and not the final goal and not to push entrepreneurs to become deals too early in their stage of development.” Read, “Take more risks and four other venture-philanthropy takeaways,” by Romy Miyashiro of Cordaid.
Leapfrogging car-ownership in India. How big an opportunity is India’s transition to an “electric mobility system”? The Indian government is seeking to transition the country’s automobile stock to 100% electric by 2030. That could represent growth and savings of $330 billion, according to “Enabling the Transition to Electric Mobility in India.” The report from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Rocky Mountain Institute estimates the net figure by taking the cost of importing 1,600 million metric tons of oil (the amount needed by 2030 under current trends) and subtracting the cost of domestic battery production sufficient to power 100% electric mobility, an estimated 3,500 GWh through 2030. (Indian battery makers could capture up to 40% of that value chain by importing only cells and assembling battery packs in India.) Bonus: going all-electric could eliminate one gigaton of carbon-dioxide emissions from the atmosphere by 2030.
The scale of India’s effort to leapfrog the western model of private-vehicle ownership is immense. But barriers to electric vehicle adoption are falling with steep declines in technology costs, business model innovation, and increasing connectivity. EVs are expected to cost the same as conventional vehicles by 2025. India needs to quickly to deploy a widespread EV-charging infrastructure.
And the alternative may be even more daunting. India’s urban population is projected to nearly double over the next decade. Under a business-as-usual scenario, vehicle ownership could reach 170 million by 2030. In cities like Delhi, already dangerously polluted, the use of bus services is declining, as more urbanites can now afford to buy vehicles or use ride-hailing services. Bus passenger ridership fell 11% between 2014 and 2015. Nitin Gadkari, India’s road transport minister, warned an Indian lobby group that India is going to move to domestically produced, cost-effective, pollution-free fuel “whether you like it or not” — and threatened to bulldoze cars that don’t conform.
Onward! Please send news and comments to TheBrief@impactalpha.com.