ImpactAlpha Open: Impact CEOs + employee ownership

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to this week’s ImpactAlpha Open.

👋 Connect with us. Say hello to ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese this week at the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles and Roodgally Senatus at ImpactPHL in Philadelphia.

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Impact CEOs
  • May’s ‘Liist’ of impact funds raising capital
  • Ecosystem for employee ownership
  • Decarb bros

Ok, let’s get to it. – Dennis Price


Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Inclusive community funds (raising capital). The past year’s market volatility amplified America’s crisis of affordable housing. This month’s Liist of funds currently raising capital includes three funds looking to meet the moment with new vehicles for investing in more inclusive, resilient U.S. communities, report Jessica Pothering and Roodgally Senatus.
  • Other signs Impact investing is maturing: The use of bonds for community development finance (LISC’s Christina Travers and Kathleen Keefe), cultural arts (Deloitte’s Adriano Picinati di Torcello) and green academic buildings (HIP’s Srdana Pokrajac); follow-on emerging-market impact funds (Jessica Pothering); and “net zero” alliances among leading venture capital firms.
  • Impact CEOs. Succession strategies (recruit for values) and structures (perpetual purpose trusts) for impact executives were the talk of last week’s MO (for momentum) Summit, as I reported from Austin, Texas.
  • Climate policy progress. A decade ago politicians couldn’t mention climate change. Now climate industrial policies are reshaping the US economy and are set to be central planks of President Biden’s reelection campaign, as Amy Cortese reports. 
  • Local investors in emerging markets. Development finance institutions are missing an opportunity to build an ecosystem of local fund managers investing in small and growing businesses, says Drew von Glahn of the Collaborative for Frontier Finance.

    • Rethinking risk. Fintech lender Community Investment Management is taking lessons from US-based fintech to increase its lending in the Global South, CIM’s Jacob Haar tells David Bank on the Agents of Impact podcast
  • Instant replays. Missed last week’s ImpactAlpha calls? Watch the launch of Suzanne Biegel’s Heading for Change climate + gender fund and Jobs for the Future’s green jobs challenge with Taj Eldridge.

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Agents of Impact

🚐 Su Sanni, Dollaride: From dollar-van commuter to urban-mobility entrepreneur

A first generation Nigerian-American, Su Sanni grew up in East New York, Brooklyn and Jamaica, Queens. The low-income neighborhoods, with large populations of immigrants and people of color, are transit deserts where convenient public transportation is scarce. The buses were “always overcrowded and came infrequently, so I couldn’t really rely on the service. I ended up relying on dollar vans to bridge that gap,” Sanni tells ImpactAlpha.

  • Building a solution. Sanni later worked as a research contractor for one of his two uncles, Nigerian immigrants who started out as dollar-van drivers in the late 1980s and early 1990s and became fleet owners. Sanni used that experience to launch Brooklyn-based tech startup Dollaride in 2018 with Chris Coles to digitalize payments and transit routes for dollar van drivers and their customers.
  • Keep reading our Agents of Impact profile of Su Sanni by Roodgally Senatus on ImpactAlpha.

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Turner Impact Capital hired Gary Rodney, ex- of Tishman Speyer, as managing director of multifamily housing initiatives.
  • The Copia Group named Beata Kirr, ex- of Bernstein Private Wealth Management, as chief impact officer.
  • Lara Pierpoint, ex- of Actuate Climate, joins Prime Coalition as director of an early climate infrastructure program. Emily Lewis O’Brien, also ex- of Actuate Climate, joins Prime as the program’s senior lead.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On the podcast

As the Neighborhood Economics conference wrapped up in Jackson, Miss., Kevin Jones spoke with David Bank about startup capital for sole proprietors, Black churches as engines of economic development, and how strangers can become unlikely allies. Host Brian Walsh has the headlines. 


Deal Spotlight

💸 Financing farming and small-business leaders in regeneration

Root Capital calls them “climate action leaders.” World Resources Institute calls them “regeneration champions.” Pioneering small farmers, agri-businesses and cooperatives are implementing critically needed and highly-localized land regeneration and climate-adaptation techniques. Data from Root Capital’s portfolio show that many farmers and farmer organizations are carbon negative. “They’re teaching regenerative agricultural practices that are critical for us,” says Root Capital’s Elizabeth Teague. “If we could get them more money, and more incentives to do that work, they’ll really be able to show the way forward.”


Six Signals

👷🏾‍♀️ Ecosystem for employee ownership. Funds from Apis & Heritage, Start.Coop, Obra and other managers signal a growing employee-ownership industry. More catalytic investment is needed to de-risk the capital ecosystem that meets the needs of low-income employee-owners and entrepreneurs. (Asset Funders Network)

🫡 Today’s Black leaders. Agents of Impact like Kameale Terry and Evette Ellis of ChargerHelp, Ulili Onovakpuri of Kapor Capital and Parity’s Bree Jones are among 50 Black tech innovators and changemakers honored on this year’s AfroTech Future 50 list. (AfroTech)

👶🏽 Parenting in corporate America. Six in 10 of America’s largest companies (Russell 1000) now disclose a paid parental leave policy, up from 47% last year the year before. Only 40% disclose the number of weeks of paid leave for primary and secondary caregivers. (Just Capital)

🌱 Funding climate justice. The Pisces, Schmidt and Kresge foundations have met the Climate Funders Justice Pledge to commit at least 30% of climate funding to Black, Indigenous and people of color-led organizations. Donors of Color Network has mobilized $120 million from 33 philanthropic institutions. (Kresge Foundation

🧱 Greening US industry. It’s not just batteries and electric vehicles that are now being built in the U.S. Danish toy maker LEGO has laid the first bricks for its $1 billion “carbon neutral” factory in Virginia. (Footprint Coalition)

🤙🏾 ‘Decarb bros’. The loose affiliation of researchers, climate tech workers and policymakers is flipping the term usually associated with toxic masculinity on its head to make the case that the best way to combat climate change is to “ditch the gloom of earlier environmentalism and focus on what new technology can do.” (The New York Times)


Get in the Game 

💼 Step up

  • Quona Capital has an opening for a head of fundraising and investor relations in New York.
  • 2X Global is on the hunt for a fundraising and partnerships lead.
  • Kiva is hiring an impact content manager.

Check out the full list of the week’s impact jobs on ImpactAlpha.com.

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See you back here next Tuesday!