Hi there, Agents of Impact! Welcome to this week’s ImpactAlpha Open, a specially curated newsletter of the top news and opportunities in impact investing and sustainable finance. Two items on this week’s to-do list:
🎙️ Join us for Plugged In: Financing Black farmers and food entrepreneurs. Olivia Watkins co-founded Black Farmer Fund to reimagine US agricultural finance on terms favorable to Black farmers, caterers, restaurant and food-truck owners, composters, herbalists and other land stewards. Watkins will chat with host Sherrell Dorsey about scaling Black Farmer Fund’s model for flexible and responsive lending. Join Plugged In on LinkedIn Live, this Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.
💵 Get this deal. Not in Copenhagen for the GIIN Impact Forum? We got you covered. Stay up-to-date with 50% off an ImpactAlpha subscription. Take 50% off.
In this week’s Open:
- Employee-ownership edge
- Demonstrate, deploy and decarbonize
- Mission investing at community foundations
- Community-rooted sports
Ok, let’s jump in. – Dennis Price
Must-reads on ImpactAlpha
Demonstrate, deploy and decarbonize. The deadline-driven, exponential-breakthrough climate narrative was on full display at Climate Week NYC and last week’s Deploy23 conference, hosted by the US Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office. “We’re fired up and thinking about how we can move faster,” Tim Hade of Scale Microgrids told ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese. Get Amy’s full recap.
Boosting Black ownership. Strategies for boosting Black home ownership and “buying back the block” fired up the crowd at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual gathering, as ImpactAlpha’s Roodgally Senatus reported from Washington DC. Roody’s full report.
Mission investing at community foundations. Community foundations are finding ways to stretch their grant dollars and boost local impact by adding impact investing to their toolkits, contributing editor Andrea Riquer reported. Go deeper.
Investing in meaningful connectivity. Only a privileged few globally have affordable access to high-speed Internet. Mobile operators in emerging markets “are drip-feeding the Internet, when we need an open flow of information and access,” Ben Matranga and Jim Forster of Connectivity Capital write in a guest post. “The real opportunity for change comes when people have uncapped, always-on broadband Internet access.” Hear them out.
Agents of Impact
🏃🏾♀️ People on the move
- Generation Investment Management’s Just Climate named Eduardo Mufarej, ex- of Good Karma Ventures, co-chief investment officer and head of the firm’s newly launched natural climate solutions.
- Just Capital promoted chief strategy officer Alison Omens to president.
- Anuj Shah, ex- of Close Group Consulting, joined Stax as managing director and ESG and impact practice leader.
🎧 On the podcast
Host Brian Walsh shares highlights from last week’s subscriber-only Agents of Impact call, “The employee-ownership edge,” which explored the range of opportunities for investing in the conversion of companies to worker ownership. Plus, the headlines.
- Listen to the latest episode, and follow all of ImpactAlpha’s podcasts on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen.
🎙️ Call Recap
Labor and capital align in new movement for worker ownership. In the age-old struggle it’s labor vs capital, workers vs. owners. But what happens when employees get a stake in the companies they work for? The evidence suggests motivation, retention and productivity all improve. Investors are getting on board, seeking the worker ownership edge in buyout funds that finance company conversions to employee ownership. Last week’s subscriber-only Agents of Impact Call featured investors who are betting that worker ownership is not only good for labor, it’s good for capital, too. Among the highlights:
- Todd Leverette of Apis & Heritage views employee ownership as a pathway to wealth creation for Black and brown communities. Eight in 10 of the 250 employees at his first two portfolio companies are people of color. “Prior to the Apis transaction, they were employees in their companies and they’re still employees in their companies,” said Leverette. “They also now are owners in their companies.”
- Keep reading The Call recap, “Labor and capital align in new movement for worker ownership,” on ImpactAlpha – and watch the replay on Youtube.
Short Signals: What We’re Reading
🇮🇪 Ireland’s climate action. Ireland last month made a bold statement on climate action: It rejected a liquefied natural gas import terminal and a related gas-fired power plant. The proposal would have helped keep the island hooked on fossil fuels for years. (Bloomberg)
🌲 Minimizing private impact on natural capital. A new, open-source ecosystem services footprinting tool from Stanford University and Morgan Stanley will support the growing effort to integrate natural capital information into private sector decision-making. (Natural Capital Project)
🚫 Inside the EU’s greenwashing ban. A new law designed to help European consumers spot products with misleading environmental claims is expected to most impact the food, travel, and fashion industries. Also in the law’s sights: the voluntary carbon market, which deals with carbon offsets and credits. (Green Queen)
📈 Surging business formation. A pandemic-era jump in business formation may be the start of a trend toward a more dynamic U.S. economy. The flurry of applications included increases in new starts as well as new locations of existing businesses – and was followed by notable associated job creation. (Brookings Institution)
⚒️ Accelerating diverse-led co-ops. Start.coop’s fall accelerator includes worker- and author-owned Bitterroot Books in Tennessee, real estate cooperative The Village in Louisiana, and Origins, a marketplace for smallholder farming cooperatives in the Global South. Five of the eight companies have at least one founder of color. (Start.coop)
⚽ Community-rooted sports. ‘Purpose-driven’ Oakland Roots, which plays in the United Soccer League (one step below Major League Soccer), has raised over $2.4 million on Wefunder. Super Bowl champ Marshawn Lynch, rapper G-Eazy and others have invested in one of the most successful ‘community rounds’ in American sports. (Wefunder)
Get in the Game
💼 Step up
- Obvious Ventures is hiring a principal in San Francisco.
- Kapor Capital has an opening for a venture partner in Oakland.
- Soros Fund Management is looking for an impact strategy senior analyst.
🤝 Meet up
Don’t miss these ImpactAlpha partner events:
- Oct. 10: Ownership Economy Summit (New York)
- Oct. 12: AVCA’s Sustainable Investing in Africa Summit (London)
- Oct. 18: Phenix Capital’s Impact Summit America (New York)
SUBSCRIBE to access substantial discounts on partner events.