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#Featured: ImpactAlpha Original
One Planet: Macron mobilizes capital for climate action, with a French accent. President Emmanuel Macron of France is moving to fill the vacuum in climate action leadership left by President Trump — and to position France at the center of a global capital shift. Macron’s “One Planet” summit Tuesday will mark the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, which went into effect last year and of which the U.S. is still a formal member, despite President Trump’s announced intention to withdraw. This week’s talks may be the most ambitious attempt yet to close the gap in funding for transitioning to renewable energy and modernizing infrastructure, as well as for helping countries adapt to unavoidable climate impacts.
Expected on Tuesday: News of a carbon trading market in China. New greenhouse gas limits for shipping. Financial commitments to help poor nations adapt to climate change. Further limits on coal use. Announcements from insurer AXA, software maker Microsoft and car giant Toyota. And, conference organizers hint, “surprise” announcements from the European Commission and the French government.
“We are in the process of aligning the entire financial system with low carbon, resilient development,” Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s top climate change official, said in a Monday keynote
Read, “One Planet: Macron mobilizes capital for climate action, with a French accent” by Eric J. Lyman, a Rome-based climate journalist reporting from Paris for ImpactAlpha.
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Gary Community Investments leads affordable-housing initiative in Colorado. More than 250 community land trusts in the U.S. help low- and low-middle income families buy homes through use of a land-lease, in which the house is sold but the trust retains ownership of the land beneath it. Gary Community Investments, a venture philanthropy firm, joined Colorado Health Foundation, Northern Trust, and the Denver Foundation to create the Elevation Community Land Trust. The new Elevation trust has raised $24 million to buy and build 700 affordable units in the Denver metro area over the next five years, then expand across the state. The same group invested with Gary Community in Denver’s social impact bond for homelessness last year.
Nepalese business incubator introduces second investment fund. Impact investing is limited in Nepal. The International Finance Corporation, the World Bank and the Dolma Impact Fund, which is active in Nepal’s social entrepreneurship scene, are key players. Now, One to Watch plans to raise a $20 million fund to invest in local businesses. The fund is targeting 15 investments of $300,000 to $1 million. “We have identified a specific role for us in the (Nepal) market,” says Willem Grimminck, One to Watch’s director. “All the small- and medium- enterprises are either too risky for venture capital or too big for microfinance.” One to Watch’s $4 million first fund invested in startups in agriculture, healthcare, building, and skills development. Early backers for its second fund include Peter Tropper, the former chief investment officer for the IFC’s private equity group, and the Dutch Good Growth Fund.
TortgaAgTech raises $2.4 million for strawberry-picking robots. Grain harvesting is already mechanized, but delicate specialty crops like nuts, fruits, and vegetables are still mostly picked by hand, often under harsh and exploitative labor conditions. Working conditions in indoor farms are more stable and predictable than outdoor farms. That also makes them riper for automation, which can cut energy and water consumption. Now come robots that could cut labor costs in half. Denver-based TortgaAgTech is developing robotic produce pickers to harvest strawberries, lettuce and other crops from indoor farms. Its seed round is led by early-stage venture capital firm Root Ventures. Ag robots have a long row to hoe. The U.S. is the leading global producer of strawberries, which still are mostly grown outdoors.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
‘Virginia is for Entrepreneurs’ aims to streamline funding for local startups. “VA4E,” as it’s called, lets startups find and pitch potential investors using a single common application that can be viewed by the dozens of investors. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Mark Warner launched the initiative to connect the state’s startup founders with investors seeking investment opportunities in the commonwealth. Warner said the new tool would help startups “evaluate their product fit and maturity, and connect them with venture and angel investors across the Commonwealth.” Warner tapped venture firm Village Capital and other champions of local entrepreneurship champions to build the platform, which adds Virginia to the roster of states and cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Cincinnati, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington D.C., that are testing new ways to finance local entrepreneurship. Ross Baird, Village Capital’s founder and CEO, says the key to success is whether such efforts can overcome investor bias and deliver capital to founders currently overlooked in the marketplace. If so, he says, “we can realize impact and alpha!”
Read, “‘Virginia is for Entrepreneurs’ launches to streamline funding for local startups,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.
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