accion-venture-lab | April 29, 2016

Double-Dose of #DealFlow 4.29.16: Impact Investments by Bridges, Aavishkar, Omidyar, Accion, OPIC and More

The team at


When we launched ImpactAlpha, skeptics wondered whether there were really enough deals to report on. This edition of #dealflow should put those doubts to rest. We have direct deals and fund investments, equity and debt structures, private-equity funds, foundations and development-finance institutions. And we even have an exit, by the UK’s Bridges Ventures. Send your dealnews to [email protected]


Bridges exits Babington Group. Bridges Ventures has sold its stake in Babington Group, an apprenticeship provider, to RJD Partners for £22 million ($32 million). The Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund II invested in the U.K.-based professional training company (pictured above) in 2009. Since then, the company’s annual revenues have grown from £2 million to more than £15 million as it provided training to more than 32,000 people. Bridges Ventures says the sale generated a 33 percent return on its investment.

Aavishkaar’s Frontier Fund has made its second investment and first in Sri Lanka. India-based Aavishkaar launched the Frontier Fund last year to focus outside of India — specifically in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The new $2.1 million commitment goes to food processing company MA’s Foods. The family run business started in the mid-1980s and has built a portfolio of organic and fair-trade brands.

Lowering healthcare costs in India. Startup 1mg announced that it has raised a $16 million Series B led by Maverick Capital Ventures, with participation from returning investors Sequoia India and Omidyar Network. Created to give patients more power over their health costs in a country where generics can be more expensive than branded drugs, 1mg provides an online pharmacy and medical lab search tool. The new investment follows last year’s $5.5 million Series A round. The company plans to use the new funds to build additional analytical tools and expand to 30 Indian cities by 2017.

Job creation in South Africa. Giraffe, the South African startup that aims to tackle unemployment with an automated recruitment service, has raised a seed round led by Omidyar Network. Since launching in Johannesburg in February 2015, Giraffe has scheduled several thousand candidates for interviews for jobs in retail, call center, transportation, administration and other fields. The parties did not disclose the size of the deal.

More credit-scoring tools. Accion Venture Lab announced a new investment in Aire, a UK-based credit scoring startup. Aire uses artificial intelligence to help banks lend to new, qualified borrowers. Aire is among a spate of new efforts to expand access to credit with alternative credit scores (See “Using Cell Phone Data to Establish Credit Scores in Latin America”). “By providing an alternative to traditional credit scoring, Aire helps to extend financial services to more people who need them,” said Accion’s CEO, Michael Schlein.

Off-grid solar in emerging markets. SunFunder just closed a “beyond-the-grid” solar fund worth $15 million, also from OPIC, for its $50 million fund. SunFunder provides project finance loans and short-term inventory loans to solar companies deploying off-grid projects in Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. The money will be used to finance solar panels, lithium-ion batteries and LED bulbs — technologies that could add up to a $3 billion market by 2020. Says OPIC: “Off-grid solar solutions are often the cheapest and fastest way to extend energy access.”


Art as impact. The Upstart Co-Lab will connect artists with opportunities in impact investing and social entrepreneurship, and vice versa, with funding from the Ford, Rockefeller Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon and Surdna foundations with in-kind support from the F.B. Heron Foundation.

Malaria treatment. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to buy $5-million in shares in Amyris, Inc., in order to further reduce the cost of one of the world’s leading malaria treatments. Prior Amyris investors include Total S.A., Khosla Ventures, Votorantim Novos Negócios, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, TPG Biotech, and DAG Ventures.

Trade finance. Tri-Linc Global Impact Fund has approved another $16.75 million in trade finance for companies operating in sub-Saharan Africa. Tri-Linc’s total financing commitments as of March 31, 2016 was $148.6 million.

Low-cost private schools. The Dell Foundation has invested $12.6 million in the Indian School Finance Company (ISFC), which will make loans to 100 low-cost private schools for low-income students in four cities in India. Dell’s investment was made as a “non-convertible debenture” — the foundation will be repaid via regular, fixed payments.

Integrated services in L.A. The Non-Profit Finance Fund will provide $8.35 in financing to support an 80,000-square foot Los Angeles Family Housing Campus for the Homeless.

Big bucks from banks. Leading financial institutions are joining Bank of America in the Catalytic Finance Initiative (CFI), committing $8 billion to accelerate the transition to clean energy solutions and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. New partners in the CFI include AllianceBernstein (AB); Babson Capital Management LLC; Crédit Agricole CIB; European Investment Bank (EIB); HSBC Group; International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group; and Mirova, a subsidiary of Natixis Group.

[seperator style=”style1"]Disclosure[/seperator]

DealFlow is ImpactAlpha’s roundup of what, where, how and why impact capital flowed each week… See more impact deals in ImpactAlpha’s DealFlow section. And send your dealflow news to [email protected].

Jessica Pothering contributed additional reporting.