The Brief | June 21, 2018

Charting the impact investing narrative, blockchain ethics, alt-credit, Incofin’s India fund

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: The Impact Alpha

Connecting the dots and charting the narrative, every week. David Bank kicked off the “new” ImpactAlpha back in April with a column that promised we would cover impact investing like the serious beat that it has become. Every day, we’ve tried to bring you the deals, the signals and the voices that are building a new approach to business and investing. That column kicked off a weekly drill as well. With his column, The Impact Alpha, David is charged with lifting ImpactAlpha’s beat reporting into a cogent narrative. After a dozen columns, he decided to take stock of the story so far.

Take a spin through, “Connecting the dots and charting the narrative,” by David Bank, on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Ricult raises $1.85 million for alt-credit-score lending to small farmers in Asia. The company integrates alternative-credit risk metrics with crop and weather information to determine farmers’ creditworthiness. Rather than lending money, it lends farming inputs and couples them with data and agricultural advice to help farmers be more productive. Dig in.

Incofin kicks off first India-focused fund. The Belgian impact investment firm will invest in food and agriculture startups and financial services firms like Veritas Finance. The India Progress Fund is looking to raise $80 million, mostly from international investors. More.

Kellogg Foundation backs loan fund for Battle Creek. With $6.4 million in capital from the foundation and local investors, including Kellogg Co., the Battle Creek Small Business Loan Fund will provide capital and technical assistance to local entrepreneurs. Go deeper.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Why blockchain needs ethics. The blockchain is hot. But without a strong ethical foundation, the technology could face the same backlash already rocking the tech world. The Beeck Center at Georgetown University, has released Blockchain for Ethical Design Framework, to help blockchain developers mitigate data and privacy risk by being thoughtful and vigilant about how the applications are built in the first place.

  • Front-end design. Among the questions blockchain designers should think about: whether blockchain is even the best approach to the problem they are trying to solve.
  • Back-end risk. “If you don’t take [ethical design] into account, you’re adding risk,” Cara LaPointe, a senior fellow at the Beeck Center, told ImpactAlpha. “Having a collaborative model where you’re bringing in all the different stakeholders, including users, is really important for the process of developing technology.”

Read, “Laying an ethical foundation for the blockchain future,” by Jessica Pothering, on Impactalpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

“One of the things that I’m very proud of, in terms of impact investing over this last decade, we’ve proved that it’s market rate…we’ve proved you can do it across asset classes,” Candide Group co-lead and Transform Finance co-founder Morgan Simon told Business Insider in an on-air interview. “I think the challenge that we have for the next decade is to make sure that the impact is real.”

— June 21, 2018.