Beats | September 8, 2017

Fortune 50, Harvey fund, blending finance for health and education, impact MOOCs, sustainable…

The team at


Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Fortune’s Change the World 50. Many of the firms on the magazine’s third annual list will be familiar to ImpactAlpha readers. There’s JPMorgan Chase at №1, along with LeapFrog Investments (5), Ant Financial (6), Unilever (21), bKash (23), Airbnb (31) and Chobani (44). Here’s the full list of 50 companies the magazine says are “using the profit motive to solve a multitude of societal problems.”

#Dealflow: Follow the Money

Enterprise Community Partners launches $10 million fund for Harvey aftermath. The Maryland-based supportive-housing organization invested hundreds of millions of dollars for community development in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. Now it is tapping that experience to support communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. “It’s been said that Hurricane Harvey will transform a generation,” Enterprise notes on its blog. “We must act now to ensure that the storm’s scars create resilience rather than desperation.” Enterprise is seeding the $10 million fund with $500,000 in immediate grants to nonprofit relief organizations helping low-income residents in drenched parts of Texas and Louisiana. (The Harvey Community Recovery Fund donation page can be found here.) Longer-term commitments will aid non-profits in their rebuilding efforts and help raise private-sector capital to redevelop low- and middle-income communities.

Domuso raises $3.1 million to extend credit to tenants. More than 40% of Americans are renters, and a quarter of them spend more than half their income on rent. It leaves them little room for error when they get hit with large, unexpected expenses, like medical bills. Domuso, a Santa Monica, Calif., startup, created a payment portal that provides renters with a line of credit that allows them to cover their late rent payments and repay the loan over six or 12 months. Fees aren’t cheap, but they’re about in line with credit card interest rates and more accessible than bank credit, according to the company. (Tenants can get approved almost immediately based on a “soft” credit check, like past payment history.) Renters can still use Domuso’s platform to make payments even if they don’t need a line of credit. (In May, 20% of Domuso’s 20,000 registered tenants were using the credit option.) The company has raised $5.8 million from investors; its latest round was largely backed by large rental owners who use the platform to collect rent.

Convergence and IFC to build blended finance platform for 2030 health and education goals. The partners aim to raise $500 million by blending public and philanthropic funds to attract private capital for investments in health and education businesses that serve people who live on less than $8 per day in emerging and underserved markets. Convergence, a Canadian blended finance network, and the International Finance Corp., part of the World Bank Group, aim to raise the funds by connecting public and private investors to “riskier projects” in the two sectors. Early funding comes from the Canadian government and the project is looking to tap into the World Bank IDA Private Sector Window — a $2.5 billion initiative to spur private investment in the poorest 75 countries in the world. Convergence previously launched its Investment Network to catalyze blended-finance deals for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. It has also partnered with several impact investors todevelop impact bonds in Indonesia and for Syrian refugees.

See all of ImpactAlpha’s recent #dealflow.

#Signals: Ahead of the Curve

34 free ways to become an impact pro. Growing interest in impact investing and sustainable business has sparked a mini-boom in teaching ways to build skills and knowledge on these topics. Courses in impact investing are taking hold on business school campuses and online through a growing number of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Giselle Weybrecht over at the Primetime blog has rounded up 34 impact and sustainability courses (Part 1and Part 2) beginning this fall that are free, online and available to anyone. Passionate about role of private capital in financing solutions to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals? Enroll in the World Bank’s Financing for Development: Unlocking Investment Opportunities. Want to learn how to mitigate the effects of climate while raising people out of poverty? Tune in to Cape Town University’s Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries. If you’re curious about how business can create value by reusing and recycling products, check out TU Delft’s Circular Economy: An Introduction. The courses last between three and 14 weeks and ask for about three to eight hours a week.

SOCAP taps impact-investing leaders to curate “spotlight” sessions. The Social Capital Markets conference, or SOCAP, convenes on the San Francisco waterfront for the 10th time October 10–13. Organizers have turned over a portion of the conference to guest curators to “spotlight” key questions facing the impact community. B-Lab, the nonprofit leading the B Corp movement, will bring together leaders to explore how businesses can be “systemic change agents for good.” Mission Investors Exchange, the network of impact investing foundations, will dig into how foundations can work with partners to bring more capital to bear on social and environmental problems. CultureBank, founded by Deborah Cullinan and Penelope Douglas, will explore the role of artists and cultural movements in promoting lasting change. Other curators include family office Gary Community Investments and big thinker Jed Emerson. As a SOCAP media partner, ImpactAlpha is pleased to be able to offer a $250 discount through Sept. 29. Register now.

DACA is about lives, not careers. Following President Trump’s decision to end DACA earlier this week, ImpactAlpha rounded up the case for young, employed immigrants, often called Dreamers, as a boon to the economy. Compelling as that may be, “something goes awry when this becomes the dominant story told about immigrants in America,” argues journalist Masha Gessen in the New York Times. Gessen says that “what’s wrong with the decision to discontinue DACA is that people — not workers — will be deported. Lives — not careers — will be shattered. The problem is that it’s inhumane.”

#2030: Long-termism

Can air travel go green? International travel is at an all-time high. The number of international trips rose from 625 million in 1995 to more than 1.3 billion in 2015, according to the World Bank. Tourism is an $8 trillion industry, and one out of every 11 jobs worldwide is now in the sector, says a recent report. Just one round-trip flight between New York and California emits close to one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person, or about 20% of the greenhouse gases that your car produces in one year. A projected increase in international tourism could cause demand for jet fuel to double by 2030, and air travel could account for 25% of global warming by 2050.

The quest is on for alternative airplane fuels, but none have yet fully taken flight (at least in a viable commercial sense). Back in 2008, Airbus demonstrated at the Berlin Air Show a version of their A320 airliner that used fuel cells to power steering systems. Researchers are exploring the use of oils certain kinds of algae to produce fuel. EasyJet recently cut emissions by almost 31% by building more efficient planes, using only one engine while taxiing, using electrical power while at the airport, and regularly washing engine compressors among other tactics. Several patents have been filed for ideas on how to reduce contrails, the white cloud-like lines that jets leave at high altitudes that can trap heat.

This UN report has even more ideas: devising a standard way to measure an aircraft’s fuel burn and CO2 emissions, and rewarding advances in airplane technologies that contribute to reductions in CO2 emissions. Updating fleetsso that they are more environmentally friendly is also a good idea.

Onward! Please send any news and comments to [email protected].