Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!
#Feature: ImpactAlpha Original
Meet one of the first women factory managers in India’s premier tea region. At Jungpana, a remote tea estate in Darjeeling, India’s famous tea growing region, two dozen women gingerly move through the fields and quickly pluck the “two leaves and a bud” that make up the harvested tea leaf. It’s a timeless scene in the region’s tradition-bound tea industry. The pickers in the fields are mostly women. The managers in the estate’s production facilities, where tea is processed and packaged, are all men. Except Lassi Tamang.
In Episode Six of ImpactAlpha’s Women Rising in India series, Esha Chhabra visits Darjeeling, India, where she finds Tamang, a rising star in the India’s tea industry. She’s the first woman factory manager at the Jungpana Tea Estate — and one of the first in all of Darjeeling. She’s part of a new wave of talent on the tea estates: college-educated managers who have bypassed the typical path of family connections into the industry. And she’s part of a change in one of India’s most conservative industries, which is finally starting to give women a chance to prove themselves outside of their traditional roles.
Read, “Meet one of the first women factory managers in India’s premier tea region” by Esha Chhabra, on ImpactAlpha. And catch up on the earlier episodes of Women Rising in India.
#Sponsored: Bird + Stone
Double the donation, double the impact. Stock up on gifts that give back. This Giving Tuesday, Bird + Stone is doubling their donations. A jewelry company that raises funds and awareness for causes, Bird + Stone was founded after Elana, the founder & CEO, volunteered in Kenya and witnessed firsthand the transformative power of microloans. She wanted to empower consumers to be “micro-philanthropists,” and with every purchase, invest in causes they care about. Today, Bird + Stone has given more than two dozen microloans and expanded beyond poverty alleviation to girls’ education, women’s health and the environment. Choose your cause, and double your impact.
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Unilever and Sundial launch $100 million startup fund for women of color. The companies are creating the New Voices Fund as part of Unilever’s agreement to acquire New York-based Sundial Brands, which makes hair and skincare products for people of color. The fund, which aims to channel more capital into businesses founded and run by women of color, starts with $50 million in seed capital and plans to raise another $50 million. Sundial, founded in 1991 by Liberian immigrants, projects 2017 revenues of $240 million. Businesses owned and run by women of color get only 0.2% of all venture capital funding, but some firms are beginning to find opportunities in the underfunded group. Backstage Capital is looking to raise a second fund to support women- and minority-owned startups while Babel Ventures, a women-led fund, raised $30 million to support Latino entrepreneurs.
Ethical-consumer app raises $2 million. Conscious Consumers, a New Zealand-based startup, helps socially minded consumers find businesses near them; 500 businesses and 20,000 customers have registered on its app. The $2 million in funding was led by Soul Capital, with backing from investment firm K1W1 and Richard Collier-Keywood, who is the former U.K. managing partner for PwC. Conscious Consumers will use the capital to launch in the U.K., and is reportedly looking to raise an additional $1 million from U.K.-based investors. In the U.K., “ethical consumption” increased 8.5% to £38 billion in 2015, according to the latest Ethical Markets report.
Investors commit $7 million more to Asia’s sustainable fisheries. The Meloy Fund, which is investing in coastal and fishing communities in Indonesia and the Philippines, has closed a $7 million capital investment from the Global Environment Facility and family office Ceniarth, after raising $10 million in August. The fundraising also includes a USAID guarantee for the fund’s investors. The Meloy Fund is managed by conservation organization Rare, which is looking to raise a total of $20 million for the fund.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
Impact shared center-stage with female entrepreneurship at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Gitanjali Swamy, a longtime investor and technology professional, filed this dispatch from Hyderabad, India: “GES started in a very Indian way, with chaos, color, emotion and diversity. The spirit of global collaboration was infectious and the entrepreneurial delegation was exuberant. Rapidly formed messaging groups and new friendships buzzed throughout the day. The winning speech came from Ivanka Trump, who made a powerful case for women entrepreneurs. Every entrepreneurial story Ms. Trump highlighted, focused as much on its impact as the execution in the entrepreneur’s journey; whether it was 3D printing for disaster areas or an AI powered glove for remote medicine. In a yellow and green brocade gown, Ms. Trump’s charm, warmth and infectious smile stole the show. Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed Ms. Trump’s theme of women-first, noting that more than 50% of the attendees were women entrepreneurs; a notable first. Mr. Modi spoke about GST, the new national sales tax, bankruptcy regulation and minority investor protections. Mr Modi lauded technological sovereign achievements like Aadhaar, India’s unique-identifier, and smart cities to highlight an emerging digital nation with tech-savvy entrepreneurs. He concluded with a challenge for the rest of the world to come ‘make in India.’ All in all, a promising first day at GES.”
Scrubbing carbon from the air. Carbon removal or “negative emissions” is a hot topic. According to the Emissions Gap Report, carbon removal is “likely a necessary step” if countries are going to meet the Paris climate accord’s goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees by 2030. It was included in the United Nations Environment Programme’s 2017 Emissions Gap Report, and is the subject of recent features in The New Yorker and The Atlantic. The New Yorker calls carbon removal “a potential trillion-dollar industry.”
Several companies are getting in the act. Carbon Engineering, backed by Bill Gates, uses a chemical process to pull about a ton of CO2 from the atmosphere a day, producing a purified stream of carbon dioxide that is stored in canisters. Carbon Engineering says its technology can scale up to capture one million tons of CO2 a year. New York’s Global Thermostat and the Zurich-based Climeworks are also building machines to suck CO2 from the air. Climeworks is capturing 900 tons of the gas a year, which is used by a large greenhouse to help grow bigger produce. Lever Architecture, based in Portland, Ore., designs buildings that use a high-tech product called “mass wood,” which is stronger than typically wooden beams and fire and earthquake resistant. Substituting wood for other construction materials could prevent up to 31% of global carbon emissions, according to the Journal of Sustainable Forestry.
While none of these options are available at scale, they do show promise. “If you’re really concerned about coral reefs, biodiversity [and] food production in very poor regions, we’re going to have to deploy negative emission technology at scale,” says Bill Hare, a physicist and climate scientist and co-founder of Climate Analytics, a science and policy nonprofit. “I don’t think we can have confidence that anything else can do this.”
Onward! Please send news and comments to TheBrief@impactalpha.com.