CrossBoundary Energy’s fund exit is a proof point for Africa’s commercial solar market – and catalytic capital. An African solar energy fund that only five years ago appeared too risky even for impact investors has delivered, yes, impact – and a hefty return. CrossBoundary Energy has sold its 40-megawatt off-grid solar portfolio to ARCH Emerging Markets Partners, giving its investors a full exit and a 15% return. The blended-finance facility also helped unlock financing for a fast-growing sector of Africa’s energy market: rooftop solar for commercial and industrial users. “Distributed renewables are becoming an accepted reality and an increasing trend across Africa,” CrossBoundary Energy’s Pieter Joubert told ImpactAlpha. ARCH invested $40 million to acquire the portfolio and enable CrossBoundary Energy to deliver new rooftop solar installations for Africa’s large commercial businesses and industrial users.
Dealflow: Follow the Money
Astanor Ventures raises $325 million for sustainable food and agtech. Good Harvest Partners I, Astanor’s first institutional fund, will back “entrepreneurs developing scalable solutions to re-align nature, agriculture, and culture,” said cofounder Eric Archambeau. The focus is on U.S. and European companies addressing climate-related challenges in agriculture and food production and that advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
Impact Voices: Pass the Mic
Valuable lessons to help investors integrate impact and financial management. Impact measurement and management isn’t just magical thinking. “With enough effort and skill, the practice produces value and insights for investors, which can help them make better and higher-impact investing decisions,” write Bridespan’s Michael Etzel and Stephanie Kater, who reviewed The Impact Management Project’s "Impact-Financial Integration" handbook for ImpactAlpha. The handbook shares lessons from 13 investors on integrating impact with financial risk and return. Financial and impact performance are typically assessed separately, say Etzel and Kater. “The handbook tears down this divide so that investors can play a greater role in solving social problems.”
Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
John Kerry, the former secretary of state and senator from Massachusetts, will lead the Biden administration’s effort to combat climate change. “The work we began with the Paris Agreement is far from done,” tweeted Kerry. “I'm returning to government to get America back on track to address the biggest challenge of this generation and those that will follow.”... Arctaris Impact Investors is looking for a senior fund accountant in Boston… Applications for the Notley Fellowship for young business and technology professionals to contribute to Austin’s social innovation ecosystem are open through Tuesday, Dec. 1… ImpactAlpha's David Bank joins Impact Entrepreneur’s Laurie Lane-Zucker to discuss “Reporting on impact,” Thursday, Dec. 3.
“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.
Host Monique Aiken recaps this week’s Agents of Impact Call on gender-smart investing and we go to South Africa to follow up with Secha Capital’s Kuhle Mnisi and Wukina’s Maureen Sibanda, this week’s Agents of Impact.