The Brief | November 7, 2018

Doing good and drinking well, business value of impact, Rise Fund goes long Chinese microfinance, John Legend on Opportunity Zones

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: Returns on Investment podcast

Doing good while eating and drinking well (podcast). It’s clear from the fall circuit of impact investing events: these folks like to hang out with each other. In Delhi or New York or San Francisco or London or Paris, impact types like to meet, drink and make plans to collaborate. At the next stop, they meet, drink and collaborate some more. ImpactAlpha channeled some of this social stream ourselves with stellar (by all accounts) “Agents of Impact” experiences in Paris (around the GIIN Investor Forum) and London (after the Gender-Smart Investing Summit). To be sure, it’s easy to mock high-minded talk of ending poverty that takes place over fine wine and a Michelin-starred meal. Embrace the irony, as they say.

ImpactAlpha’s London event took place in the basement speakeasy at The Conduit, a new club in the Mayfair district that bills itself as a home for people passionate about social change. The floors above include a lounge, an event space, a rooftop bar, a co-working space and a restaurant with the requisite Michelin-starred chef. In an interview for ImpactAlpha’s Returns on Investment podcast, Conduit co-founder Paul van Zyl shares his journey from human rights lawyer (he helped lead South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission), entrepreneur (co-founder of Maiyet) to social-impact convenor. Van Zyl has turned what are often considered overhead burdens or operating costs – technical assistance, entrepreneurship support, venture incubation – into drawing cards for a club that people are clamoring to join. “If you’re going to build an impact business with impact at its core,” van Zyl says, “you need a posse of people around you to help you.”

Read on and listen in to, “Doing good while eating and drinking well (podcast),” on ImpactAlpha. Catch up on all of ImpactAlpha’s Returns on Investment podcasts.

Series: Measure Better

Deeper, focused customer impact assessments that deliver business value. CDC Group, the U.K.’s development finance institution, wants measurement of its investments’ impact to help its portfolio companies better serve underserved populations in developing markets. Sara Taylor heads CDC’s Impact Fund, a fund of funds that has committed about $175 million to a dozen funds and intermediaries investing across Africa and South Asia. Martina Castro designs and manages the measurement and management systems for the Impact Fund and other investments at the $7 billion development finance institution.

  • Measuring for management. “The companies and fund managers we back are juggling a number of priorities as they execute often challenging strategies,” says Taylor. Castro says the conversation “is too centered around metrics and not enough about how we use these for impact management – that is, to minimize risks, manage underperformance and drive impact further.”
  • Customer data. With Acumen’s Lean Data team, Taylor and Castro are diving deep with some portfolio companies to understand impact as a driver of business value. The key: tackling real business challenges. “The more this exercise taps into the companies’ pain points, the higher the likelihood that insights will be valuable and taken on board by the business.”

Read, “Deeper, focused customer impact assessments can also deliver business value,” a Q&A with CDC’s Sara Taylor and Marina Castro for ImpactAlpha’s Measure Better series with Acumen. Take as spin through the full series.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

TPG’s Rise Fund leads $140 million raise for China’s CFPA Microfinance. CFPA Microfinance provides loans to mostly rural and mostly female micro-business owners. TPG’s $2 billion impact fund led the Series C funding round for the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation’s microfinance arm. Prior investors Ant Financial, International Financial Corp. and High Impact Capital Advisors also joined the round. The Rise Fund’s investment in CFPA comes six months after its $1 billion commitment to lending company Baidu. Here’s what we know.

SJF Ventures backs ShipMonk, targeting small business growth and job creation. The impact investor led ShipMonk’s $10 million Series A round, citing the company’s support for small businesses and creation of 200 jobs in “economically distressed areas of Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.” ShipMonk says its inventory and order-fulfillment software and services “help small and medium-sized businesses scale.” ShipMonk’s raise is part of a trend of logistics tech startups raising capital to support small business growth and job creation, particularly where e-commerce is rapidly growing, as in India and Brazil. Dig in.

Women-led Kinvolved raises $1.5 million to reduce student absenteeism. Almost half of high-school students that dropout cite missing too many school days as a reason. Kinvolved, founded by Miriam Altman and Alexandra Meis in New York, aims to improve attendance through its Kinvo app, which helps teachers communicate with parents about their child’s attendance. High schools have seen a 13x increase in average daily attendance. Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation led the seed round, which also included the Impact Fund, New York Ventures, Excell Technology Ventures, GingerBread Capital, and u2i. The details.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Chris Toy joins Tribe Impact Capital as a wealth manager… Artist/activist John Legend will join Enterprise Community Partners’ Terri Ludwig, John Lettieri of the Economic Innovation Group, Goldman Sachs’ Margaret Anadu, former Mayor Michael Nutter and Louis Dublin of Redbrick LMB for a public conversation on Opportunity Zones at University of Pennsylvania law school Thursday, Nov. 8… Bridges Fund Management is hiring an associate on its social sector funds team.

November 7, 2018.