The Brief | June 10, 2019

Female fund managers in emerging markets; blockchain for small businesses, supply chains and elections; Halloran’s early money

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Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Female fund managers make the case for ‘gender alpha’ in emerging markets. One way to seize the global growth opportunity in women’s equality: Back female fund managers with financial chops and deep understanding of underestimated entrepreneurs and underserved consumers. Female founders receive only 7% of emerging market private equity and venture capital. Trillions could be added to global growth if women’s economic participation equalled men’s. More female fund managers is part of the solution. Investment firms with female fund managers are twice as likely to back women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, according to the International Finance Corp. Yet women account for only 11% of senior teams at emerging-market private equity and venture capital firms.

That gender gap present an opportunity for early movers. Female partners are investing with a gender lens in at least 20 venture funds in Latin America, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. A quick scan by ImpactAlpha found firms with at least one female partner have raised or are raising as much as $1.3 billion to deploy in local markets. Fund of funds Capria Ventures has backed a half-dozen women-led funds out of a total of 19 local fund managers in Latin America, Africa and Asia. We also scanned Project Sage’s list of 87 venture capital funds investing with a gender lens curated by Wharton Social Impact and gender-lens advocate Suzanne Biegel. “We feel that being where we are, as women fund managers, demonstrates our strength, productivity, tenacity as well as our ability to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes,” says Terra Global Capital’s Leslie Durschinger. The Colombia-based firm is raising $40 million to help small farmers transition from coca to cacao. “These are all distinct qualities that give us an advantage.”

Keep reading, “Female fund managers make the case for ‘gender alpha’ in emerging markets” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Blockchain Edition

Voatz raises $7 million for safe mobile voting. Before the 2016 U.S. elections, President Obama touted the emergence of election tech startups making “safe, secure, smart systems for people to be able to vote much easier online.” One such venture, Voatz, raised $7 million for biometric- and blockchain-based software, originally developed for university elections, to make voting more convenient and tamper-proof. The app, used by labor unions, nonprofits and town governments, is being adopted in West Virginia after a test of absentee voting in last year’s midterm election. Voatz has supported nearly 40 elections since 2016. Its latest funding round was backed by Techstars, as well as Medici Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund and Oakhouse Partners, which backed Voatz’ $2.2 million round last year. More.

Anheuser-Busch re-ups in BanQu to boost supply chain transparency. The brewer’s venture arm, ZX Ventures, backed BanQu’s $1.4 million in Series A funding. The Minnesota-based software company uses blockchain to improve financial services for vulnerable populations. Its mobile software allows smallholder farmers, refugees or informal workers to create digital identities for financial and other transactions, such as proving land ownership. Anheuser-Busch InBev adopted BanQu’s platform last year to track its cassava supply chain in Zambia, and invested in the company. The new financing will help BanQu expand its supply chain work with fast-moving consumer goods companies. BanQu’s SEC filing suggests the company is looking to raise up to $7 million. Read on.

Barclays backs Crowdz’s “invoice auction” to boost small business financing. Helping small businesses weather cash flow uncertainty is an emerging theme in the fintech sector. San Jose-based Crowdz’s has raised $5.5 million led by Barclays Bank for its blockchain-based (notice a trend?) invoice factoring platform that gives small businesses access to financing while they wait for invoices to be paid. Invoice factoring isn’t new, but Crowdz aims to simplify the process and improve transparency through its “invoice auction,” which lets financial institutions bid on outstanding invoices. Barclays Bank led the company’s Series A round alongside Bold Capital Partners. Crowdz was part of Techstar’s London-based cohort last year, which was hosted by Barclays. Check it out.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Early money is like yeast for social enterprises and impact, too. For a dozen years, Halloran Philanthropies has been building the field of social impact investing with both grants and investments. The Philadelphia-based foundation has rounded up its portfolio and the impact of its $51 million in grants and investments to promote social and economic empowerment around the globe. The creation of Philadelphia native Harry Halloran, CEO of American Refining Group as well as Energy Unlimited Inc., is led by Tony Carr; the team includes Audrey Selian and Dermot Murphy. Highlights from Halloran’s 2007-2018 impact report:

  • Early money and early stage. Halloran was among the earliest money into impact funds and vehicles including Adobe Capital, Inversor Fund, The Social Entrepreneurs Fund and KIVA. Young social enterprises the philanthropy has backed include Frogtek, Clinicas del Azúcar, Revolution Foods and Wash Cycle Laundry.
  • Acceleration. Halloran has backed more than 30 accelerators around the world including Village Capital, Echoing Green, William James Foundation, Unreasonable and Ashoka.
  • Industry Infrastructure. Halloran was among the first funders of B Lab, SOCAP, multiple Impact Hubs, Watson Institute, ImpactPHL, London’s Social Stock Exchange and the Latin America Impact Investing Forum, or FLII. Halloran sponsored ImpactAlpha’s Agent of Impact event at this year’s FLII in Mérida, Mexico.
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Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

The UK’s Impact investing Institute is recruiting a chief executive officer… Facebook is hiring a measurement and evaluation program manager for its global impact partnerships in San Francisco… Also in San Francisco, REDF is looking for an associate director of impact lending.

June 10, 2019.