Entrepreneurship | September 30, 2017

Betting on women in Southeast Asia, regenerative agriculture, beyond impact apologetics

The team at


Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

#Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Increasing capital flows to women in business in Southeast Asia. Only about 4% of the roughly $140 billion in impact investing assets globally makes it to Southeast Asia. And only a fraction of that goes to the region’s women entrepreneurs, who are underrepresented in all stages of business. Countries and investors in the region are “missing out on growth opportunities,” said Julia Newton-Howes, CEO of Australia’s Investing in Women Initiative, which is working with investors and entrepreneurs to boost gender equality in the region.

At last week’s Sankalp Southeast Asia Summit in Jakarta, partners in the $40 million initiative detailed the needs at each stage of company growth. Patamar Capital, for example, invests at the point that women-run businesses are ready to scale, mentoring founders to make that leap. Small Enterprise Assistance Funds, based in Washington, D.C., is helping mitigate real and perceived risks. The Global Impact Investing Network is collecting and sharing data to inform investors. “Very few financial enterprises have recognized the opportunity of investing in women,” said Rubin Japhta, a gender finance specialist at the International Finance Corp.

Read “Betting on women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia,” ImpactAlpha’s Michael Standaert’s report from the Jakarta gathering.

#ICYMI: Brief Highlights

Six steps for driving transparency and performance. “Mainstream entrants now dominate in impact assets under management. Early movers who weathered years of slow growth, marginalization, and even derision now face a new set of problems: rapid growth, acceptance, and, gulp, market-driven performance expectations,” writes Clara Miller, the president of the F.B. Heron Foundation. She calls for a “segmented, enterprise-level data infrastructure that supports disclosure, rigor, and transparency across the marketplace.” (Read more)

How tech-driven startups are driving social impact in Indonesia. Indonesia has all the elements of an impact investing market poised for growth: An active small and medium-sized business market. Tech-driven innovation. Significant unmet social needs. And Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Read why Nisha Dutt, CEO of business advisory firm Intellecap, believes scaling impact in Indonesia might be easier than in India. (Read more)

Gender diversity is about radical innovation…and outperformance.Diversity and inclusion isn’t about political correctness. It’s about overcoming blind spots to build better businesses. Investors actively seeking out investments in women founders, gender-diverse teams and companies delivering solutions for women — gender lens investors — are finding radical innovation, stronger companies and better profits. (Read more)

#Dealflow: Follow the Money

Agriculture Capital closes $548 million second permanent crops fund. The farmland owner-operator will invest in farmland and processing facilities for permanent crops like blueberries and fruit trees. The fund, which had an initial target of $400 million, is notable for attracting public pension funds and other institutional investors, including some that participated in Agriculture Capital’s $255 million first fund. The second fund will pursue the same vertically integrated strategy “focused on scaled regenerative permanent crop agriculture to address the needs of the global market,” said Agriculture Capital’s Rob Hurlbut. The company was co-founded by Equilibrium Capital, which continues to participate in the management and investment committees. “We saw the opportunity to bring institutional capital to permanent crops,” said Equilibrium’s Jay Pierrepont. “That sector rewards returns from impact. Good stewardship of the land and community is fundamental to delivering attractive yield and capital appreciation to investors.”

Bamboo Capital backs ComparaOnline to connect Latin American customers with insurance. ComparaOnline, a South American financial services and insurance comparison site, launched in 2009 to help consumers compare options for car and travel insurance, consumer loans, and credit cards. It operates in Chile, Brazil and Colombia, with one million active users per month. The latest round of funding was led by Bamboo Capital, which committed $14 million. Bamboo’s founder Jean-Philippe de Schrevel said the company “brings a fresh approach to the distribution and transparency of insurance and other financial services in Latin America.”

Envision Solar secures $4.5 million for solar electric-car charging. The San Diego-based company has developed a solar charging station for electric vehicles that can fit within a standard parking space and generate enough power for 225 miles of driving time. The company raised the $4.5 million in debt capital from an unnamed investor.

See all of ImpactAlpha’s recent #dealflow. Send deal tips and news to [email protected].

#Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Time for ‘impact apologetics’ has passed. Those that say impact investing isn’t financially viable are running out of excuses, says Tim Freundlich of ImpactAssets. The nonprofit financial services firm, along with Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund and community and investor network Toniic, convened clients, partners and members at the Impact Hub in San Francisco to share examples of how impact investments are being made and measured. Seth Goldman, founder of alternative meat-maker Beyond Meat, said the company’s partnership with TGI Fridays shows mainstream appetite for high-impact products. “We’re selling plant-based meat at the meat counter!” Goldman declared. Tammy Newmark of EcoEnterprises Fund said its third successively bigger fund for companies creating sustainable livelihoods for local communities shows that investors are satisfied. John Beckham, chief investment officer at MicroVest, said his firm is adding debt and fixed-income vehicles to meet the financing demands of businesses in maturing emerging markets. Freundlich said there’s no longer time for ‘impact apologetics.’ ImpactAlpha’s Zuleyma Bebell reports from San Francisco. Read and share.

#2030: Long-termism

Global goals weekend sports update. The winners of the Global Goals World Cup won’t be determined simply by their performance on the soccer field. There will also be a Global Goals World Cup Activist trophy for teams that devise the best action for advancing one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as prizes for most supportive crowd, and for most original team style.

The football competition is the inspiration of a Danish sports nonprofit, Eir Soccer, with support from the Danish government. The competition is open to girls and women of all ages. To compete, teams have to first choose and take action on one of the goals. For example, a team that chooses SDG №4 (Quality Education) might raise money for a school in need, or a team that chooses SDG №13 (Climate Action) might arrange a global-warming demonstration. Organizers say that over the next three years, games will take place on every continent. Global Goals World Cup Bangkok kicks off (ha!) this weekend. Here’s how your team can get in on the action.

That’s a wrap. Have a great weekend! Please send any news and comments to [email protected].