ImpactAlpha Open | May 9, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Impact fundraising defies headwinds

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Hi there, Agents of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly briefing of top impact-investing news and trends from ImpactAlpha and around the web.

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Impact fundraising defies headwinds
  • Place-based investing in Chicago, Philadelphia and Jackson
  • Black Founders Matter
  • Regeneration generation

Let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Stubborn resilience. Rising rates, sinking banks, paralyzed politics – and here comes artificial intelligence. The impact investing ecosystem has yet to feel the full impact of the changed environment, ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese reported from last week’s Milken Global Conference.
  • Community assets. In Jackson, Miss., Black churches are leading a local revival by focusing on their assets and their social impact, as ImpactAlpha’s David Bank discovered at the Neighborhood Economics conference.
  • Investing in place. In Philadelphia, local leaders are mobilizing high-impact funds, and local founders are building high-impact ventures, ImpactAlpha’s Roodgally Senatus reported from last week’s Total Impact Summit.
  • Muni impact. The city of Chicago is revamping what its municipal bonds fund in order to attract new investors, redress historic inequities, and cut its interest payments, as journalist Oscar Perry Abello detailed on ImpactAlpha
  • Creative economy. Upstart Co-Lab has stocked a pipeline of more than 300 creative funds and businesses for investors in the creative economy, including cultural institutions themselves, as Roody found at Upstart’s gathering in New York City.
  • Reproductive care. Impact investors are finding ways to champion reproductive care after Dobbs, particularly in systemically underserved communities, Bridgespan’s Marina FisherNate WongLauren McDermott and Roger Thompson shared in a guest post

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Agents of Impact

🔔 John Moore, ImpactPHL: Stocking the pipeline for impact investments in Philadelphia

John Moore quit his corporate gig and moved to Philadelphia two decades ago. He found a city rich in social entrepreneurship and a growing community of practice around impact investing. As a member of Investors Circle (now the American Sustainable Business Network), Moore began making angel investments in high-impact startups, including Philly-based Wash Cycle Laundry and First Step Staffing. “It very quickly became obvious that my life got better as Philadelphia thrived.”

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Transition VC brought on Anuj Khanna, ex- of C&S Electric, as a limited partner and investment committee member.
  • Aina Abiodun, ex- of Salt Climate Tech, replaced David Kenney as president and executive director of VertueLab.
  • Susannah Burrage, ex- of Innosight, joined Zeal Capital Partners as head of portfolio management.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On the podcast

Himalaya Rao of the BFM Fund – for Black Founders Matter – speaks with David Bank about the impact alpha in racial justice investing and the challenges of first-time female fund managers. Host Monique Aiken has the headlines.

Deal Spotlight

💸 Impact fundraising defies market headwinds

What fundraising slump? The parade of new impact (and especially climate) funds continues despite economic warning signs. A first-time fund manager might have a very different take on the fundraising environment than a principal at a private equity powerhouse, like Apollo, which is out with a new $4 billion climate fund, or a corporate-backed manager like Marunouchi Innovation Partners, which raised $400 million for its climate tech fund with capital from Mitsubishi. The ImpactAlpha news desk is seeing impact funds of all shapes, sizes and angles hitting first and final closes, despite a steep drop in overall VC fundraising and a sober outlook for private equity this year. 

Six Signals

🏺Africa’s artisanal talent. Skilled craft workers are an overlooked source of small business and job creation on a continent grappling with high youth unemployment. Seth Mulli of Cape Town-based Allan Gray Makers discusses Africa’s creative economy with Frank Aswani of African Venture Philanthropy Alliance on Afropact, a new podcast series showcasing African solutions to Africa’s challenges. (Listen / subscribe to the podcast)

🦄 Impact unicorns. Acumen portfolio companies Easy Solar in Sierra Leone and Paga Group in Nigeria have been named to the Financial Times’ list of Africa’s 50 fastest-growing companies. M-Kopa, which Acumen exited earlier to Blue Haven Initiative, also made the list. (Acumen / Financial Times)

€ Redrawing the ESG map. Money market funds targeting Europeans have rebranded almost $1 trillion as ESG. The designation is known as “Article 8,” which under European Union rules means a financial product “promotes” environmental, social and good governance goals (“Article 9” funds meet a higher standard). (Bloomberg)

🍞 Food security funds. Phenix Capital identified 689 impact funds with €122 billion ($134 billion) in assets focused on access to food, foodtech, smallholder farming and fisheries, and sustainable agriculture and aquaculture. Nearly half are open for investment. (Phenix Capital)

🌱 Regeneration generation. Global regenerative agriculture revenues are valued at $9 billion and could reach $31.9 billion by 2031, a compound annual growth rate of 15.2%, according to Insight Ace Analytics. The research firm expects carbon sequestration will hold an increasingly significant share of the market. (Insight Ace Analytics)

☀️ De-risking heat waves. From heatstroke insurance for humans to policies that reimburse farmers for lower output, more financial products are addressing climate change-driven heat waves. (Bloomberg)

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