The Brief | May 30, 2018

Corporate impact strategies, private equity for the SDGs, equity for Indian food and housing startups, good jobs in Africa

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha Readers!

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Corporates chase impact and innovation with venture investments. No sooner had ImpactAlpha called the trend in corporate venture capital’s move into impact investing than came a flurry of deals that confirmed the rising “strategic” value of inclusion, sustainability and impact in corporate C-suites. In two months, we’ve reported an average of one noteworthy corporate venture deal per week across cleantech, food and agriculture, and inclusive financial services. Corporates, from Salesforce and Tyson Foods to the oil giant BP, are backing impact ventures as a way to tap innovation, access new markets, and drive their own efforts at inclusion and sustainability.

Another signal that corporate impact venture investing is on: two events on the trend in the next few weeks. One World is hosting “Innovations in Corporate Social Impact Summit” June 14th while Orange Silicon Valley, the venture arm of French telecom Orange, is producing a Corporate Impact Summit on June 28 in San Francisco. Pay attention. Corporate VC reached an all-time high last year, with more than $31.2 billion deployed in nearly 1,800 deals. Orange, with 130 million mobile customers in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East, says reaching targets such as those set by the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals “helps enable the long-term sustainable growth of our company.”

Read, “Corporates chase impact and innovation with venture investments,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Featured Event: Orange Silicon Valley’s Corporate Impact Summit, June 28

Corporate VCs seek impact. Orange Silicon Valley, the venture arm of French telecom Orange, is convening investors and entrepreneurs in San Francisco for a one-day event on corporate impact through innovation and venture. On the agenda: Entrepreneur collaborations with corporations in emerging markets. Africa’s venture and startup innovation trends. The investment and innovation gap for sustainable development. Request an invite.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Oikocredit backs Indian organic food and affordable housing startups.Oikocredit backed YCook, which sources organic produce from farmers, and Aashiyaan Housing & Development Finance, which aims to help families buy homes. Get the details.

Janngo raises $1.2 million for social digital startup lab. The incubator is looking to boost good job prospects in Africa by helping small businesses build and use digital platforms. Learn more.

OneCrop gets seed funding from Future Food Asia competition. The startup makes a biodegradable film that, when placed on soil where crops are planted, cuts water use and promotes growth. Read more.

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

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Strong message, flawed messenger: Best practices for private-equity investing in the Global Goals. ImpactAlpha dug into a report from the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association promising “current approaches and best practices” in private equity’s role in delivering the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. One of the main sponsors and contributors to the report is The Abraaj Group, the Dubai-based “growth markets” investor headed by Arif Naqvi, who was until late last year among the most visible champions of private-equity SDG investing. Since then, Abraaj has suffered a stunning fall from grace in the face of scrutiny from limited partners. That’s not helpful to the report’s compelling case that private equity firms can drive change at scale and speed, especially in emerging markets.

  • Key SDGs… such as renewable energy, health care, education, food production and gender “play to the PE agenda,” the report said. “Exits that demonstrate a return on social value will become the norm in the near term.”
  • Limited partners… will “increasingly commit to firms that show credible commitment to the SDG agenda and as societal expectation shifts to a ‘profit for all’ mindset.”
  • Call to action… “The SDGs are not yet being widely used by managers to influence strategies, direct investment policies or drive the development of new approaches and products.”

Read, “Strong message, flawed messenger: “Best practices” for private-equity investing in the Global Goals,” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

New Revivalist Daryn Dodson, whose Illumen Capital helps fund managers unlock promising opportunities by overcoming implicit bias, was profiled in the New York Times as one of a list of people inventing new ways to solve old problems (read ImpactAlpha’s Q&A with Dodson)… Big Path Capital is hiringVP-level bankers to grow its impact investment banking practice… Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs seeks a director of research and impact in Washington, D.C…. VentureWell in Hadley, Massachusetts, is hiringa program officer for venture development and other positions.

— May 30, 2018.