Elizabeth McCluskey, CMFG Ventures. This is what an impact investing career path looks like. McCluskey was working at UBS, first in investment banking and then in wealth management, when the Great Financial Crisis wiped out nearly $10 trillion in household wealth. “I got to see firsthand how fragile our financial institutions were and how vulnerable so many Americans were during that time,” McCluskey told ImpactAlpha. She went to Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management to figure out “how I could integrate impact into capitalism.” McCluskey joined Chicago-based Impact Engine and helped it grow from an accelerator for social impact startups into a venture capital and private equity firm managing $63 million in assets. Now, McCluskey has been tapped to head CMFG Ventures’ Discovery Fund, a $15 million open-ended vehicle that will provide venture funding for early-stage fintech startups led by under-represented founders, especially women and people of color.
The Week’s Big 6
1. Year of the Climate Fund. In a single day, announcements of more than $12 billion in institutional capital committed to climate solutions signaled a step-change in climate finance. TPG Rise Climate’s $5.4 billion fundraise and Brookfield Asset Management’s $7 billion fund, along with a parade of other 10-digit green and climate funds, belie a more sober reality. As impressive as the new funds are, Climate Policy Initiative’s Barbara Buchner says what’s remarkable is that “we are not seeing more action to close the trillion-dollar climate investment gap.” Go deeper.
The Week’s Dealflow
Clean energy. Soltage closes a $130 million debt facility to finance a distributed utility-scale portfolio of projects across the U.S… CrossBoundary backs PowerGen to develop mini-grids in Nigeria… Hydropower developer Natel Energy closes $20 million in financing led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Chevron’s corporate venture arm… Bright Power clinches $24.5 million to help commercial building operators and owners manage their energy and water usage… Benin-based small-scale, off-grid solar provider MyJouleBox secures €3 million to expand to Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Togo.
The Week’s Talent
Pembrook Capital Management brings on municipal finance attorney David Baker Lewis and affordable housing advisor Ghebre Selassie Mehreteab as advisors on racial and economic equity in affordable housing lending… Amber Kuchar-Bell, ex- of CDFI Fund, joins Opportunity Finance Network as chief strategy and operations officer… Emma Sissman is promoted to director of portfolio acceleration at SJF Ventures.
The Week’s Jobs
RBC Capital Markets is looking for an analyst for its sustainable finance group in New York… Omidyar Network is recruiting a principal for its Reimagining Capitalism team in Washington, D.C… Mission Driven Finance is looking for an investor relations coordinator… Convergence is hiring an associate director of content and thought leadership and a digital communications associate in Toronto or Washington, D.C.
“It’s a great time for new entrants, but for those of us who’ve been doing this for a while it is equally urgent to raise our game right and to not get complacent,” said Margot Brandenburg of the Ford Foundation.