Beats | April 10, 2018

Corporate impact investing, returns on gender inclusion, Edovo aims at recidivism, Agents of Impact

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Greetings ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Corporate venture capital tilts towards impact investing. Corporate venture capital investing hit an all-time high last year. This year, it’s tilting toward impact. Take last week’s mega solar deals in Saudi Arabia and India from the $93 billion SoftBank Vision Fund. SoftBank, of course, is not a bank, but the Japanese technology company that set up the mammoth Vision Fund (with $28 billion of its own money, as well as outside investors) to position itself for 21st century growth opportunities. The fund is just the biggest example of corporate venture capital investors seeking strategic investments in ventures that deliver social and environmental benefits.

Salesforce, the cloud software company, stood up the $50 million Salesforce Impact Fund last October and has made a dozen investments, including in the pay-as-you-go clean-energy finance platform Angaza (which this week will be only the second for-profit company to receive a Skoll Award at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England). “When you’re looking for great companies solving big social and environmental challenges, you find founders with less common backgrounds than those in the tech world,” Salesforce’s Claudine Emeott told ImpactAlpha. Orange, the French global telecom company, is exploring impact investing at Orange Silicon Valley, the firm’s innovation and corporate venture arm. Says Orange’s Moses Choi: “The value of pursuing financial inclusion, of reaching the next billion for example, is obvious.”

Read, “SoftBank, Salesforce and Orange signal corporate tilt towards impact investing,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Featured event: Yale Impact Investing Conference

Yale’s first Impact Investing Conference. Wharton has one. Columbia has one (around social enterprise). Yes, Harvard has one too. Now it’s Yale’s turn. The university will host its first conference dedicated to impact investing on April 27. Fund managers, foundations, religious organizations, government officials, and industry leaders will take stock of impact investing, and the opportunities and challenges ahead. Register here (or stream the event live here).

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Capturing the alpha in gender inclusion. Say you’re keen on the supposed $28 trillion opportunity in women’s equal participation in the global economy. What do you do? MEDA, the international economic development organization that spun off Sarona Asset Management, has a tool to help investors capture the value of gender inclusion.

  • Up your gender-lens investing game… The Gender Equality Mainstreaming, or GEM, framework assesses gender inclusion within companies.
  • Cross-cutting… The online self-assessment analyzes a company’s inclusion of women across environmental, social and governance criteria. (Other gender-data tools, such as EDGE and WEPs Gender Gap Analysis are less integrated with ESG standards).
  • Outperformance… MEDA analysis of more than 180 portfolio companies found outperformance by companies with above-average female representation.
  • More gender-lens investing coverage… on ImpactAlpha.

The GEM framework, “provides an explicit approach for an investor to incorporate a gender lens into their financial decision-making,” said Criterion Institute’s Joy Anderson.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE moved 10 “carbon conversion” efforts into the finals of the  $20 million contest. The projects, from the US, Canada, China, India and Scotland, are turning waste carbon-dioxide into concrete, fuels, plastics and other valuable materials… Halloran Philanthropies’ impact report looks back on The Pursuit of Human Well-Being, a Halloran-funded book on global progress… Bridges Fund Management says it supported 2,600 jobs last year.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

A recap of this morning’s deals…

Edovo closes $9.8 million to expand tablet-based inmate education. Startups aimed at the challenges of over-incarceration are attracting impact investors. Read more.

JPMorgan adds $2.5 million to Ascend 2020 program. The bank’s effort to kick-start investing in women- and minority-owned businesses will expand to 10 cities. Learn more.

Walton Family Foundation bankrolls two charter-school finance funds. The foundation committed $300 million to help bridge the capital gap in facilities financing for non-profit charter schools. Read on.

Veritas Finance secures $8.5 million debt funding for small business lending. The Chennai-based startup serves more than 14,000 small business customers with loans as small as $75. More details.

Click here for more ImpactAlpha dealflow. Send deal tips and news to [email protected].