Bitwise Industries raises $50 million to go national with its model for inclusive tech ecosystems. Before the growth of Bitwise Industries, few would have mistaken Fresno, Calif. for a tech hub, even though the gritty San Joaquin Valley farm city is only 150 miles from pricey Silicon Valley. Bitwise has challenged those assumptions, training more than 5,000 locals for technology careers since 2013 and rehabilitating more than 450,000 square feet in faded downtown buildings in Fresno and the nearby Bakersfield and Merced. The Hive, a former records warehouse, has become a colorful 50,000-square-foot building that houses two dozen startups and anchors downtown Fresno. With a new round of $50 million in financing, Bitwise is taking its integrated model to Toledo, Ohio and other cities that have been largely left out of tech-related investment and job creation. “The Bitwise model empowers communities of concentrated poverty to access quality jobs in the fastest growing industry in the global economy,” says Jake Soberal, co-founder and co-CEO with Irma Olguin Jr. (see, “Agent of Impact”).
Dealflow: Follow the Money
Ikea-backed foundation invests in fossil fuel-free equities and green steel. The IMAS Foundation, launched by the furniture company’s founder, is committing €250 million to a fossil fuel-free public equities fund developed by U.K.-based investment boutique Osmosis. The Netherlands-based foundation, with assets of €11 billion ($13.4 billion), invests on behalf of Ikea’s corporate philanthropy. It is the first backer of Osmosis’s Resource Efficient fund. IMAS also is investing directly in a fossil fuel-free steel manufacturing plant in Sweden. The €2.5 billion plant, being developed by Swedish company H2 Green Steel, will be powered by green hydrogen.
Signals: Ahead of the Curve
ImpactAssets 50 showcases an increasingly diverse impact ecosystem. Worker ownership. Small business relief. Impact real estate. Climate solutions. This year’s ImpactAssets 50 showcases a diversity of impact investment options, from billion-dollar funds to first-time managers. The public database of 50 funds with at least $25 million in assets and three years of track record spans asset classes, sizes and geographies.
Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros, ex- of Growald Family Fund, joins the Climate Leadership Alliance as managing director of global climate strategies… OneTen’s Maurice Jones joins Ignite Social Impact as an advisor… Kristen Eshak Weldon, ex- of Louis Dreyfus Company, joins Partners Capital as global head of ESG and impact investing… Elemental Excelerator is seeking applications for its energy and cleantech accelerator...
“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.