The Brief | November 29, 2018

Being Bobby Turner, banking Asia’s unbanked, pay-as-you-go solar in Zimbabwe, Sir Ronald Cohen calls out the G20

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What we know about Turner Impact Capital’s school, housing and health funds. Bobby Turner has been busy. In the last month or so, his Turner Impact Capital christened a charter school in Washington, D.C., opened several new health clinics in Florida, and acquired new apartment buildings for affordable workforce housing in San Antonio, Houston, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Oh, and the peripatetic Turner secured investor commitments he says should push the firm’s assets above $1 billion across five funds. Turner has been on a journey of self-redemption in the five years since he left Canyon Partners, the $25 billion hedge fund he had helped build with other veterans of Michael Milken’s dealmaking shop at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s. “I had become so self-loathing,” Turner said in an interview with ImpactAlpha. Turner now considers himself an “evolved capitalist” and is trying to turn market forces toward what he calls “the three-legged stool of social injustice” – education, housing and health care.

Turner has teamed up with tennis star Andre Agassi on two Turner-Agassi charter school funds that have raised more than a half-billion dollars and have built 87 schools serving 45,000 students. He has enlisted actress Eva Longoria and basketball star Chris Paul as “ambassadors” (as well as investors) in two Turner Multifamily Impact Funds that acquire and preserve urban rental housing for families earning less than an area’s median income. A new health care fund has opened a half-dozen clinics in Florida. “There is a tsunami of interest among investors to find market-rate solutions” to social challenges, he says. “Where the bottleneck is today is the dearth of investment managers who can deliver sound financials and sound impact.”

Read, “What we know about Turner Impact Capital’s school, housing and health funds,” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Skype founder’s Oriente raises $105 million for financial services for Asia’s unbanked. Nine-figure Series A investment rounds are rare. They’re even rarer for companies targeting large populations of unbanked customers. Skype co-founder Geoffrey Prentice raised $105 million for a year-old fintech startup that is leveraging smartphone penetration in Asia to meet the demand for payment services and credit. Oriente, which operates Cashalo in the Philippines and Finmas in Indonesia, will use some of the capital to launch in new markets. Dive in.

Zimbabwe’s Zonful raises early funding for pay-as-you-go solar. Four of five rural Zimbabweans lack access to electricity.  Zonful’s solution is pay-as-you-go home solar systems for as little as $6 per month, less than half the amount rural families typically spend on lighting and phone charging. Paris-based Energy Access Ventures is backing the company with $300,000 to expand beyond the 10,000 systems it has already sold. It is the second slug of capital Zonful has raised since August. Read on.

Robo-advisor Nutmeg launches social investing options. The digital investing platform is the latest online advisor to respond to everyday investors’ demand for socially-focused options.  London-based Nutmeg has rolled out a “socially responsible” theme that uses environmental, social, and governance screens to invest in stocks and exchange-traded funds. Other automated investment providers like Betterment, Wealthify, Wealthsimple, and Motif have adapted their products to include social investments. Swell, OpenInvest, and Earthfolio started as dedicated social investing platforms. Here’s more.

Impact Voices: Pass the Mic

Sir Ronald Cohen to the G20: Embrace the impact revolution. The British venture capitalist is taking his case to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit this weekend in Buenos Aires. “The existing social contract has expired – we need to draw up a new one,” writes Cohen, chairman of the Global Social Impact Investment Steering Group, in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. “It’s time for a new financial model that values impact alongside risk and return.” Sir Ronald, who helped bring venture capital investing to the U.K., has spent 20 years making the case for valuing impact in investment decision-making. Focusing entrepreneurs and the private sector on social and environmental challenges, he says, can also drive high rates of return.

  • Cohen’s proposes to apply impact coefficients to sales, employment costs, cost of goods sold—all the way down to the profit line—and to the balance sheet. Says Cohen, “When every company publishes impact-weighted accounts alongside financial ones, impact will have assumed its place in investment and business decision-making.”

Read, “Leaders of the G20: Embrace the impact revolution,” by Sir Ronald Cohen, on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

BlueOrchard Finance is hiring an infrastructure associate in Zurich… Hardware solutions philanthropy Gearbox International Foundation is recruiting a director of finance and a director of research and communications… The Urban Future Lab/ACRE cleantech incubator is looking for a program manager in New York.

November 29, 2018.