Inclusive Economy | November 2, 2017

Central America’s growth opportunity, AquaSpark’s aquaculture deals, VCs back immigration-tech…

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

#Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Founders and funders to watch in Central America and the Caribbean.Central America and the Caribbean have not generally been considered a global growth story. But relative stability, young and growing populations, GDP-growth that outpaces that of the U.S., and a dearth of capital for entrepreneurs suggest opportunities for investors in the region’s 20 countries. Delivery of essential services for the poor and emerging-middle classes in Central America and the Caribbean would appear to be a growth industry.

Antigua, Guatemala, will be the meeting ground next week for investors and new and growing ventures taking on the region’s health, energy, education, food and housing challenges. The occasion is the Latin America Impact Investing Forum, or FLII, hosted by social venture-incubator Alterna Impact November 8–9. The FLII will bring together more than 300 local leaders, investors and entrepreneurs looking to mobilize even more capital than the approximately $400 million impact investors placed in Central America in 2014 and 2015 combined.

Read, “A dozen founders and funders to watch in Central America and the Caribbean,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha:

A dozen founders and funders to watch in Central America and the Caribbean

There’s still time to register for the FLII Central America and the Caribbean. Use code IMPACTALPHA_NETWORK_50 for a 50% discount:


#Dealflow: Follow the Money

Aqua-Spark backs aquaculture ventures Proteon Pharmaceuticals and Cryoocyte. The Dutch aquaculture fund has made 15 sustainable aquaculture investments over the last two years. Poland-based Proteon has developed an antibiotic-free method of killing bacteria like salmonella in fish and poultry. Aqua-Spark was the sole investor in its $4.1 million Series A round. “We’ve been looking at disease-battling companies from the beginning,” Aqua-Spark co-founder Mike Velings told AgFunderNews. Aqua-Spark also co-led (with Vodia Ventures) the $4 million Series A round for Cryoocyte, which is working on technology for freezing fish eggs. The technology could be important in preserving long-term biodiversity in aquaculture.

Investors back peer-to-peer lenders LenDen Club and CASHe. Peer-to-peer lending, in which individuals provide small loans to other individuals, has taken off in India since the country “demonetized” last year, removing existing 500- and 1,000-rupee notes from circulation. Lending app CASHe, which provides short-term personal loans of $150 to $1,500 to salaried young professionals, raised $3 million in debt financing from IFMR capital (after raising a $3.8 million equity round in April). LenDen Club, which also provides personal loans, raised $500,000 from an undisclosed investor. The company has handled transactions worth 170 million rupees ($2.6 million) in the past three years. About 30 peer-to-peer startups operate in India; some have reported doubling loan originations since demonetization.

UBS introduces impact equities fund. The Swiss bank is the latest to roll out a stock fund aimed at positive social and environmental impacts. UBS pledged earlier this year to commit $5 billion towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and raised $325 million for TPG Growth’s $2 billion The Rise Fund. UBS Asset Management’s open-ended impact fund will target 40 to 80 companies focused on “solutions to global challenges such as climate change, air pollution, clean water and water scarcity, treatment of disease and food security,” International Investment reports. Standard Life launched its Global Equity Impact Fund last week.

See all of ImpactAlpha’s recent #dealflow. Send deal tips and news to [email protected].

#Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Venture capitalists are investing in immigration tech. More than half the founders of $1 billion U.S. startups were born abroad (see, “Immigrants and the American Economy). An Obama-era rule, postponed by the Trump administration, would have given foreign-born entrepreneurs access to special visas. The National Venture Capital Association and other entrepreneurs in September filed a lawsuit in D.C. federal court to save the rule. Now, some VCs are putting their money where their mouths are. Catalyst Investors, a $1-billion New-York-based firm, recently led a $21 million round for Envoy Global, which helps employers navigate immigration and visa procedures for foreign-born workers. (General Catalyst, based in Cambridge, Mass., with $3.7 billion in assets, joined the round.) Unshackled Ventures, backed by Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, is looking to invest $25 million in foreign-born entrepreneurs by hiring them as students, taking over their visa process and backing their startup ideas with $300,000. Crunchbase has rounded up eight other VCs that together have invested more $50 million in seven immigration-related startups: 500 Startups, CIT GAP Funds, ff Venture Capital, First Round Capital, Globespan Capital Partners, Intel Capital, Pelion Venture Partners, and RRE Ventures.

#2030: Long-Termism

How high is your carbon footprint? Check your ZIP code. Urban sprawl is pushing up levels of greenhouse gases even as cities get more green. A UC Berkeley study found that population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the U.S. The average carbon footprints in the cities’ networks of suburbs can be twice the average. “Unfortunately, while the most populous metropolitan areas tend to have the lowest carbon footprint centers, they also tend to have the most extensive high-carbon footprint suburbs,” said grad student Christopher Jones, who worked on the study. (This interactive map shows average annual household carbon footprint by U.S. ZIP code.)

Mayors of a dozen cities around the world have signed the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration, pledging to get their cities to zero-emissions by 2030. But cities also need to look for ways to contain urban growth to ensure that future development is both dense and green. In the developing world, the per capita numbers are much lower, but tend to follow a similar pattern. Household income, vehicle ownership, and home size contribute to larger carbon footprints; all are considerably higher in the suburbs. Increasing suburban density alone won’t help. Dense suburbs have significantly higher carbon footprints than less dense ones, the researchers found, largely because of higher incomes and greater consumption. They also tend to generate their own — you guessed it — high-carbon suburbs.

Onward! Please send news and comments to [email protected].