ImpactAlpha Open | May 7, 2024

ImpactAlpha Open: Big Tech carbon-market strategies + Puerto Rican’s inclusive revival

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletter.

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In this week’s Open:

  • Turning disaster relief into economic revival in Puerto Rico
  • How Big Tech can restore forests – and carbon market cred
  • Blended finance rebound
  • Labor battles in Starbucks’ boardroom

Ok, let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Building back better in Puerto Rico. The Caribbean island and US territory has a window in which to turn disaster recovery into an inclusive economic revival. Agents of Impact, including Eduardo Carrera of Platform for Social Impact, are putting in place the building blocks to bring in private capital alongside public funding for the island’s social and green infrastructure. See how.
  • Restoring forests and carbon markets. A scramble is on to fix the voluntary carbon markets. Possible heroes: Apple and Microsoft. The tech giants are not only investing in nature-based carbon offset projects, they’re pushing to improve the integrity of carbon credits, reports forest-carbon veteran Shaun PaulGet the overstory.
  • Lessons from Starbucks’ labor drama. As Starbucks workers attempted to unionize in coffeehouses across the country, an activist shareholder put forward a pro-union slate of directors. Management reached an agreement with the union at the last minute, and the slate of board nominees was withdrawn. In her latest Institutional Impact column, contributing editor Imogen Rose-Smith digs into the nexus between labor organizing and impact investing. Solidarity forever.
  • Blended finance is back. The amount of catalytic capital deployed to de-risk renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, small business lending and health and education in emerging markets picked up in 2023. The rebound suggests an appetite for stacked capital to de-risk high-impact deals and build investment ecosystems, reports Amy CorteseRead more.
  • Mission related investors. Philanthropic asset owners gather this week in Los Angeles for the annual Mission Investors Exchange conference. As the gathering’s media partner, ImpactAlpha shared a series of essays highlighting strategies that foundations are using to mission-align their endowments. Get the playbook.
    • Redirecting capital flows. Rural and Indigenous communities have experienced extraction of jobs and natural resources, a historical lack of investment and vast health and economic disparities. Zoila Jennings reports on how the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is trying to change how capital flows through such communities. Learn more.
    • Investing in diverse managers. The California Wellness Foundation is doubling down on DEI, and not only for philanthropic reasons. “We believe it is our fiduciary duty to consider diversity when selecting investment managers to attain our financial goals and further our mission,” writes Cal Wellness’ Rochelle WitharanaHer take.

Agents of Impact

  • Fiorella Schiffino, previously with Inovia Capital, joined Raven indigenous Capital Partners as chief financial officer.
  • The Predistribution Initiative named Juan Jardon-Pina, formerly of Deetken Impact, as a senior associate.
  • Northern Trust’s Lyle Logan joined the board of Impax Asset Management as a non-executive director.

The Week’s Podcast

🎧 This Week in Impact

Host Brian Walsh takes up ImpactAlpha’s top stories with editor David BankUp this week: The rebound in blended finance; how Big Tech can restore forests – and the credibility of the voluntary carbon markets; and, how a California foundation is investing 100% of its $1 billion endowment with a diversity, equity and inclusion lens. 

Short Signals: What We’re Reading

🇵🇸 Investing in Palestine. A coalition called Palestine Emerging has released a blueprint for the long term reconstruction and economic development of Gaza and the West Bank. Among those involved, according to The New York Times are the Bank of Palestine’s Hashim ShawaSamer Khoury of Consolidated Contractors International, Mohammed Abukhaizaran of Arab Hospitals Group and Baron Frankal of Portland Trust, which is chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen. “We are proposing to connect Gaza to the world over the long term,” Chris Choa of the London design firm Outcomist told the Times. Palestine Emerging says the framework is intended “to guide actions related to economic stabilization, infrastructure networks, social assets, economic growth, soft power, and community engagement.” (Palestine Emerging)

🔋 Battery bonanza. Deployment of battery storage is doubling year-over-year and was the fastest growing commercially available energy technology of 2023, according to the International Energy Agency. The IEA says that deployment must increase seven-fold by 2030 to meet global climate goals. (IEA)

🏙️ Carbon-budget budget. New York has become the first major US city to adopt “climate budgeting,” a process which embeds climate considerations into the city’s financial decision making. London and Oslo use similar accounting systems. (Bloomberg)

🔥 Muni bond climate risk. S&P Global has released a dataset quantifying climate risk exposures for US local governments and their general obligation bonds. In a medium- to high-climate change scenario, 17% of US counties are at risk of multiple acute climate hazards; one-third of US counties could face chronic climate hazards during the 2020s. (S&P Global)

👩🏾 Expanding access to period products. Growing up in Mali, twin sisters Adam and Awa Drabo experienced firsthand how social taboos and lack of access to menstrual products held back women and girls. They founded Sutura to expand access to eco-friendly period products and education. A loan from Zira Capital, in partnership with a local small business accelerator, enabled them to grow. Zira’s capital came from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund. “These kinds of investments in impact-driven businesses are vital to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” writes The GIIN in a case study. (The GIIN)

🎥 Hollywood’s ‘inclusion alpha’ opportunity. Hollywood is leaving $30 billion on the table annually because of racial inequity, according to a series of reports from McKinsey. The entertainment industry could generate $10 billion per year by reducing the Black inequity gap, up to $18 billion from properly valuing Latino professionals and consumers, and as much as $4.4 billion from more effectively tapping the Asian and Pacific Islander market. (Hollywood Reporter)

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • The Justice Climate Fund is looking for someone to head their Clean Communities Investment Accelerator program, a program of the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The position is remote.
  • The Pop Culture Collaborative is seeking a director of impact and evaluation in Philadelphia.
  • CrossBoundary is hiring an associate or senior associate to join their Caribbean advisory team, based in Kingston, Jamaica.

Visit ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub for more impact investing jobs. Contact us for job posting rates.

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