The Brief | July 19, 2018

Call for moral revival, NAACP exchange-traded fund, alt-credit scoring, big tent for talent

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: The Impact Alpha

A minister’s call for moral, as well as economic, revival. A faith-based campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience may seem a long distance from the more genteel concerns of impact investors and entrepreneurs, ImpactAlpha’s David Bank writes in his latest column. Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Rev. William Barber II of North Carolina has revived the campaign for economic justice that King launched in the last year of his life. The new Poor People’s Campaign, with protests in 40 states, calls for voting rights, universal health care, fair wages and affordable food, education and housing – and a national moral revival.

What impact investing can bring to that moral agenda is the ability to make demands not only of government, but of capital itself. Witness, for example, the early mobilization around “opportunity zones” to ensure that investment strategies align with community goals. Or the “new revivalists” that ImpactAlpha has profiled around the country, who are building entrepreneurial ecosystems to launch businesses and revive communities. Fusing Rev. Barber’s call for moral revival with impact investing may lift up both. For the Poor People’s Campaign: strategies for inclusive prosperity for 140 million poor people in the U.S. For impact investors: a popular base grounded in the lived experience and aspirations of America’s own emerging market.

Keep reading, “A minister’s call for moral, as well as economic, revival,” on ImpactAlpha. Catch up on all of David’s columns here.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Impact Shares’ minority empowerment ETF launches to the public. An exchange-traded fund created by non-profit investment manager Impact Shares in partnership with the NAACP is going live on the New York Stock Exchange. The fund, which trades with the ticker NACP, is a values-aligned investment option that also creates an ongoing funding stream for the NAACP. Partner organizations can collect as much as $500,000 for every $100 million invested. Dallas-based Impact Shares, is also partnering with the YWCA to launch a women-focused ETF. Read on.

Alt-credit scoring startup Cignifi secures $4.3 million. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company uses mobile phone data to determine credit risk for unbanked customers around the world. The company has closed $4.3 million for its latest equity round, which includes backing from LeapFrog Investments and Omidyar Network. Here’s the scoop.

Autodesk Foundation invests $250,000 in Closed Loop Ventures. The philanthropic arm of software firm Autodesk made a program-related investment to Closed Loop Ventures’ 10-year fund, which primarily makes equity investments in recycling and waste-management startups. The foundation supports environmentally and socially-conscious design. Here’s more.

Impact Voices: Pass the Mic

Development professionals-in-training make good impact investors, too. An impact investor without financial training cannot perform key parts of their job. But an impact investor without systems-level understanding is equally ill-equipped, argues Spectrum Impact’s Rehana Nathoo in a guest post on ImpactAlpha.

  • “We must push past the persisting myth… that business school is the only way to get “specialized” training,” writes Nathoo, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s school of foreign service. Development studies are a viable pathway for impact investing practitioners, she argues, and can protect against “impact-washing.”
  • Development professionals, says Nathoo, understand that successful scaling “is as vulnerable to the traditions of local markets as it is to limited track record of the entrepreneur.”

In training the next cohort of talent, says Nathoo, “let’s invite students and educators from across disciplines to learn more about this space in the same way we attempt to work within it – together.”

Read, “Development professionals-in-training make good impact investors, too,” by Rehana Nathoo, in ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Maria Laura Tinelli (Argentina/Uruguay), Beto Scretas (Brazil), Angelica Zegers (Chile) and Rodrigo Villar (Mexico) will join chair Alejandro Preusche to explore a $1 billion impact fund of funds for Latin America on a task force of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment … Blended-finance platform Convergence is looking for a managing director for Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia… The Principles for Responsible Investment is hiring a senior manager of impact and thematic investments in London… US SIF is looking for a research manager in Washington D.C.

— July 19, 2018.