ImpactAlpha Open | June 11, 2024

ImpactAlpha Open: A call to action in the ESG wars + private credit impact funds

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletter with the top news and opportunities in impact investing and sustainable finance. 

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In this week’s Open:

  • A call to action in the ESG wars
  • Private credit for underinvested markets and communities
  • Ownership plus quality jobs to unlock wealth for all
  • HCAP’s Hope Mago on ‘gainful jobs’ (podcast)

Ok, let’s get to it. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Impact funds eye debt over equity. Fund managers on this month’s Liist, including Amazonia Impact Ventures and New Story Ventures, are expanding the reach of private credit by channeling capital into niche and underinvested markets and communities, writes ImpactAlpha Jessica PotheringCheck them out.
  • A call to action in the ESG wars. As You Sow’s Andrew Behar launched a counteroffensive to GOP-led legal attacks on climate change initiatives that have brought together investors, asset managers and shareholder advocacy groups. “Continuing business as usual and not coordinating our efforts to address this situation is the real violation of our fiduciary duty,” declared Behar. Hear him out.
  • Ownership and quality jobs. In a guest post, WORC’s Ellen Frank-Miller argues that quality jobs up and down the organization chart are a driver of financial value. HCAP’s Hope Mago articulated their worker empowerment strategy in a podcast. Read Frank-Miller’s piece and listen to the pod.
  • Shared-appreciation notes. Homium is using a “shared-appreciation note” to help first-time homebuyers with down payments. “I’m looking at the whole pyramid of passive wealth building that most people are left out of, and homeownership is increasingly becoming central to that,” Jim Sorenson, an investor in Homium, told Roody Senatus (disclosure: Sorenson Impact Foundation is an investor in ImpactAlpha)Read more.
  • Deeper disclosure. The European Union is raising the bar on climate and human rights regulations with its Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, reports ImpactAlpha’s Louie Woodall. The directive could unlock a wealth of data on companies’ supply chains and boost investor efforts to mitigate risk and drive impact. See how.
  • Justice-aligned investing. Lynne Hoey of Oakland-based Kataly Foundation chronicles the foundation’s quest to divest from Wall Street and design a non-extractive, racially just investment strategy. In her latest post in the series, she lays out where the foundation will park its funds. Read more.

Agents of Impact

🍏 Sam Polk, Everytable: Bringing healthy fare to food deserts

Before Sam Polk discovered a passion for creating access to healthy food in “food deserts,” he was a Wall Street trader addicted to making money. A $3.6 million bonus during his final full year, which made him angry because “it wasn’t big enough,” was the moment he realized his life was all wrong. As he wrote in the New York Times in 2014, “I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted.”

More than a decade later, Polk tells ImpactAlpha, “I have two loves in my life, and it’s my family and Everytable – in that order.” Everytable, the Los Angeles-based healthy fast-food chain he co-founded in 2015 with entrepreneur David Foster, has served more than 10 million nutritious meals to customers in neighborhoods across southern California that lacked healthy food options. 

🏃 On the move

  • Dana Bezerra is named president for the Americas region at the CREO Syndicate.
  • Sorenson Impact Institute names chief operating officer Katie Macc acting CEO, as Geoff Davis moves to a senior advisory role.
  • Daniela Barone Soares joins the board of impact investing network Toniic.

The Week’s Podcasts

🎧 This Week in Impact

Host Brian Walsh takes up ImpactAlpha’s top stories with senior editor Jessica PotheringUp this week: niche strategies of debt funds on this month’s Liist of impact funds actively raising capital, and how Africa’s funding drought has claimed several once-high flying startups. We also hear from the week’s Agent of Impact, Sam Polk, whose company Everytable is providing healthy fast food and uplifting communities. 

  • Listen to the new episode of This Week in ImpactGet the podcast in your feed by subscribing on Apple or Spotify.
  • Impact(ed)Eric Horvath and Lucas Turner-Owens are out with the fifth episode of their Impact(ed) podcast. Westfuller Advisors’ Ellen Chiu joins Horvath to explore how investment advisors are adding social impact goals alongside financial ones. Listen to the latest Impact(ed) podcast on the ImpactAlpha Podcast Network.

Short Signals: What We’re Reading

⛈️ Catastrophe risks. Issuance of catastrophe bonds has surged as insurers including Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and Texas Windstorm Insurance Association seek to offload risk from natural disasters. Issuances hit a record $4 billion in May. But investors are nervous about the risks of warming oceans, an unusually active hurricane season and La Niña: Spreads on CAT bonds have risen by 23% in recent months. (Bloomberg)

📈 Record green investment. US clean energy and transportation investment reached $71 billion in the first quarter, up from $51 billion in the same quarter last year in 2023 and $41 billion in 2022. Financing for deployment of emerging climate tech such as clean hydrogen, carbon management and sustainable aviation fuel increased fivefold. (Rhodium Group)

💪🏼 Collective climate action. Some 43% of Americans believe that by working with others, they can affect federal government action on climate change, up from 38% in 2018. Such beliefs make people more likely to engage in climate activism. Groups with the strongest belief in the efficacy of collective action: Latinos, Blacks, Democrats, youth – and those who hear others talk about global warming at least once a month. (Yale Program on Climate Communication)

🚦 Slowdown for women-led funds. Women-led funds are on track to raise $2 billion this year, less than two thirds of the totals for 2023 and 2022. Hope springs eternal: Openseed VC (founded by Maria Rotilu, formerly of Octopus Ventures); Type Capital (founded by Terri Burns of GV, formerly Google Ventures); and Sarah Smith Fund (Smith is a former partner at Bain Capital Ventures) are among 18 women-led funds launched by first-time managers. (Venture Capital Journal)

⚡ Magnificent Seven. The surprising list of the seven countries that generate nearly 100% of their electricity from geothermal, hydro, solar or wind power: Albania, Bhutan, Nepal, Paraguay, Iceland, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The International Energy Agency says another 40 countries, including Canada, Portugal and Brazil, are at 50% or higher. For the US, the figure is just under 21%. (Stanford University)

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • Allianz Global Investors seeks an impact private credit intern in Paris.
  • KPMG is hiring an ESG assistant manager or manager for a remote role. 
  • CalPERS is looking for a sustainable investment portfolio manager for a hybrid role in Sacramento.

Visit ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub for more hundreds of more impact investing jobs.

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