The Brief | June 17, 2019

Catalyzing capital to prevent plastic waste, impact options for smaller investors, eye-care exit for Lok, refugee-crisis crowdfunding

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Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: Impact Voices

Catalyzing capital to prevent plastic waste: A conversation with Circulate Capital’s Rob Kaplan and USAID’s J.P. Gibbons. Plastic waste is a global crisis. Investing to prevent it is an investment opportunity. Circulate Capital, spun off from recycling investment fund Closed Loop Partners, is leveraging corporate interest in securing supply chains and public interest in protecting the oceans to invest in solutions to plastic waste in South and Southeast Asia. Circulate secured a $35 million guarantee from USAID’s Development Credit Authority earlier this month. The DCA, which is slated to move into the new U.S. International Development Finance Corp. later this year, has made more than 600 such risk-sharing agreements to help unlock $5.5 billion in private financing. At least half of the loans covered by USAID’s 50% guarantee will be deployed in Indonesia, The Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

USAID’s John Patrick (JP) Gibbons and Circulate Capital’s Rob Kaplan sat down to talk about the partnership, and the role of guarantees and blending capital in solving sustainability challenges at scale. “As a donor, USAID wants to work ourselves out of a job as quickly as possible,” says Gibbons. “Eventually we want the market to say, ‘We no longer need a guarantor in this structure.’” For Circulate, the guarantee comes on top up of up to $100 million in equity commitments from PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever, Coca-Cola and other corporations. “For many of our investors, too much of their packaging is polluting the environment,” Kaplan says. “They lack access to the recycled content to put back into their products. They are constantly getting accused of being bad actors and face a huge ‘license to operate’ risk.”

Keep reading, “Catalyzing capital to prevent plastic waste,” a conversation between USAID’s JP Gibbons and Circulate Capital’s Rob Kaplan on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Morgan Stanley expands sustainable investment options for smaller investors. Two years ago, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management rolled out a couple sustainable investment products for non-millionaire investors. Now, the firm is adding a half-dozen more such options with $10,000 minimum investment sizes. The products allow clients to build impact portfolios from mutual funds and exchange-traded funds screened for environmental, social and governance, or ESG, metrics, as well as for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals such as ocean conservation (No. 14) or reduced inequality (No. 10). Wealth managers and financial advisors are touting their sustainable investing options to differentiate their services from lower-cost and automated services. “This new suite addresses heightened investor demand to align values with their portfolios,” says Morgan Stanley’s Lisa Shalett. Keep reading.

Lok exits as affordable eyecare company Disha raises $4 million. Delhi-based Lok Capital made its first healthcare investment in 2013 in the Bangalore-based low-income eye care provider. Lok has now exited Disha Medical Services as part of the company’s $4 million Series C funding. Disha launched a hub-and-spoke service model that targets rural and low-income patients in 2011 to compensate for India’s shortage of eyecare specialists. Operating under the brand Drishti, it provides screenings through vision centers and mobile clinics, with diagnosis and treatment at larger hospitals. Lok Capital invested in Disha via its second fund, now called Sarva Capital, because of its “geographic access for along with low cost options to the poor,” Lok’s Vishal Mehta said at the time. Insitor Impact Asia Fund, the Nilekani family office and several high net worth individuals’ participated in Disha’s Series C round. Take a look.

NeedsList raises $1 million for nonprofit crowdfunding platform. North Carolina-based NeedsList is a crowdsourcing platform for nonprofits and humanitarian organizations in need of money, goods, and volunteer hours. In time for World Refugee Week, Amplio Ventures, Marigold Capital, Omidyar Network, Next Wave Impact, Silicon Valley Social Ventures and the Kuo Sharper Fund backed NeedsList with $1 million. The platform connects relief organizations with corporate partners, and helps companies like Starbucks, TripAdvisor and WeWork develop charity campaigns. NeedsList has helped 150 organizations raise $1 million to provide clothing for asylum-seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border and translation services and English instruction for refugees. Here’s more.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Follow the talent. Sapna Shah was named managing director at the Global Impact Investing Network.

Seize the opportunity. Morgan Stanley is recruiting a vice president of sustainable finance digital product management in New York… Silicon Valley Community Foundation seeks an investment officer in Mountain View… Leapfrog Investments is hiring a senior associate director of healthcare in Kenya… Sustainable Oceans Alliance is looking for an accelerator program manager in San Francisco… Refugee Investment Network seeks an investment manager in Washington D.C… Capria is recruiting a network lead in Seattle… Calvert Impact Capital is looking for an investment analyst in Bethesda, Md…. The Bridges Impact Foundation is hiring a program associate for its MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) Program in New York or Boston.

Apply, respond, submit. The Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund and CaribbeanTales Incubator Program are looking for emerging and established film practitioners for a new film accelerator.

June 17, 2019.