The Brief | October 3, 2018

Gender-lens across asset classes, breakthrough energy investments, Urban-X’s city startups, Reinvestment Fund’s $75-million impact bond

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Investments products that benefit women are proliferating across asset classes. Gender-lens investors that seek to improve the lives of women and girls have a growing choice of fixed-income and equity strategies in private and public markets. Community Capital Management, for example, is finding fixed-income gender-lens opportunities in mortgage-backed securities, taxable municipals, and asset-backed securities. On behalf of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, CCM invested in a mortgage-backed security comprised of loans to low- and moderate-income minority women. For the Cordes Foundation, CCM found a taxable municipal bond that financed a science and technology center and student union at Texas Woman’s University. Calvert Impact Capital and Root Capital offer fixed-income vehicles that benefit women in emerging markets.

“For gender-smart investors, there are now opportunities across asset classes,” says Suzanne Biegel, a gender-lens investing pioneer who is producing the first Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London next month. Biegel has tallied more than $2 billion in assets invested with a gender lens in both fixed income and equity strategies in private and public markets. A new report from Cambridge Associates suggests that “empowering women in the workforce positively impacts society and the economy, and can also boost a company’s profitability and return on investment.” Says Cambridge Associates’ Deborah Christie, “An institutional investor who looks at strategies through a ‘gender lens’ may see excellent opportunities they may have otherwise missed.”

Keep reading, “Investments vehicles that benefit women are proliferating across asset classes,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact gathering. ImpactAlpha is hosting a reception Friday, Nov. 2, in collaboration with the Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London. Sign up here for more information.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Billionaires’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures makes seven investments. The $1 billion fund invested in seven ventures spanning fusion (Commonwealth Fusion Systems) and geothermal energy (Fervo Energy), biofuels (DMC Biotechnologies), climate-friendly concrete (CarbonCure) and battery storage (QuantumScape). The fund’s extremely patient capital – investments can span 20 years – is intended to help early-stage companies develop technologies for the deep decarbonization required by 2050. Backers of Breakthrough Energy Ventures include Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma. It has made nine investments, committing about 10% of its fund. Learn more.

Beyond Advisors’ Vegan ETF screens out animal cruelty. Vegans were bound to grab the attention of the financial markets, given the burst of investment in a meat-free future. Investment firm Beyond Advisors has registered a vegan exchange-traded fund, or ETF, built around companies that avoid “business activity that harms animals.” The ETF is based on the firm’s U.S. Vegan Climate Index, which screens out companies involved in animal testing, animal-derived products and animals used for sport or entertainment. Check it out.

Urban-X graduates target city life and infrastructure. The city startup accelerator, a partnership of venture firm Urban Us and BMW-Mini, graduated seven startups from its fourth cohort in Brooklyn. They included Avvir, which uses lasers to scan construction sites for defects, and ClearRoad, which helps government agencies capture revenue for road infrastructure. Dig in.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Reinvestment Fund taps capital market to raise a $76 million ‘impact investment bond.’ Public bond markets are becoming a reliable new source of capital for community development financial institutions that lend to low-income communities. A successful $76 million offering by the Reinvestment Fund, a nationwide “CDFI” based in Philadelphia, pushed total capital raised through four general-obligation bond offerings since last year to more than $350 million. Reinvestment Fund itself raised $50 million in one of the first such bond offerings last year. “We are pleased to be participating in the transformation of the socially responsible lending industry,” said Reinvestment Fund’s Donald Hinkle-Brown. Last year, the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and Capital Impact Partners, also S&P-rated CDFIs, raised $100 million each through public offerings. More details.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Suzie Riddell is the new CEO of Social Ventures Australia… Sonya Sbar is in as managing director of business development at MicroVest… The Unreasonable Impact World Forum kicks off Thursday in London… Uncharted is recruiting a director for its accelerator program.

October 3, 2018.