The Brief | May 29, 2018

Growth finance for tech nonprofits, upskilling finance, alt-credit in Nigeria, accelerating flows of funding

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Featured: Impact Voices

This climate-change tech startup raised impact growth capital — as a nonprofit. WattTime is much like many other Silicon Valley tech software startup, building software interfaces, machine-learning algorithms and a software-as-a-service business model. Like an increasing number of tech startups, it’s mission-driven: WattTime’s technology could drive major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But in designing terms for a $900,000 financing, WattTime and RSF Social Finance had to accommodate an unusual feature for a tech startup: nonprofit status.

WattTime’s Matt Evans and RSF’s Stu Fram detail the novel revenue-participation agreement in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. “This note structure, and the collaboration between investor and investee toward impact goals, can provide a template for future impact investments, particularly in high-growth nonprofits.”

Read “This climate-change tech startup raised impact growth capital — as a nonprofit,” by WattTime’s Matt Evans and RSF’s Stu Fram on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Deal of the day: BetterPlace raises $3 million to upskill India’s workforce. More than 90% of India’s workforce is employed in the informal economy. That’s about 450 million workers, including security guards, housekeepers, construction workers and others. Many want more formal employment. Bangalore-based “HRtech” startup BetterPlace gives informal workers access to skills training and formal jobs, as well as financial services like loans and insurance, while vetting employees for Indian companies.

  • Inclusion is a growth market. BetterPlace’s $3 million funding round was led by 3one4 Capital with backing from existing investors Venture Highway and Unitus Ventures.

Read, “BetterPlace raises $3 million to upskill and formalize India’s workforce,” by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha.

CareZone secures $50 million for chronic health condition management. The San Francisco company’s app helps manage medication regimens and includes reminders, product suggestions and other services. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff joined the round. Learn more.

Nigerian alt-credit lender Lidya raises $6.9 million. The startup uses online transactions and other data points to produce a proprietary credit score and offer loans to small businesses. Dig in.

Shell Ventures backs Sonnen’s solar-energy sharing model. Sonnen, a battery maker, connects solar-powered residences so they can share their self-generated power. Read more.

Featured Event: ANDE’s Metrics from the Ground Up, June 12-13

Measuring impact in emerging markets. The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs is hosting two days of conversations on emerging measurement practices and other strategies for small and growing businesses. Join ANDE, the Global Impact Network, Pact, International Development Research Centre and others for, “Metrics from the Ground Up,” in Washington, D.C., June 12-13. Register here.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Data suggests impact accelerator programs do, indeed, accelerate. A study of 52 accelerator programs compares the overall “flow of funds” for ventures that participated in programs and those that were rejected. Those funds include not only equity but revenues, debt financing and philanthropic support. “The average flow of incremental funds into participating ventures is significantly greater than the average that flows into rejected ventures,” according to “Accelerating the Flow of Funds into Early-Stage Ventures.” Every dollar spent by corporations, foundations, governments and other funders, “translates into more than one dollar of additional funds for participating entrepreneurs.”

  • Entrepreneurship Database Program. The Global Accelerator Learning Initiative is a collaboration between ANDE and Emory University’s Social Enterprise at Goizueta.
  • Revenue is king. “Programming that promotes revenue growth also leads to positive investment outcomes.”
  • Accelerator selection tool. Find an accelerator that fits your needs with this cool tool (a project of, Sphaera and ImpactAlpha’s ImpactSpace database).

Agents of Impact

Colin Greenspon, ex- of Mithril Capital Management, has joined Steve Case’s Revolution venture capital firm as a partner in the Rise of the Rest Seed FundOpen Society Foundation is hiring a program officer in London for its economic advancement program… The Social Progress Imperative is looking for a global research and insight director in Washington D.C.

— May 29, 2018.