ImpactAlpha Open | February 28, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Impact in real estate + BIPOC-led climate startups

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Hi there, Agents of Impact! Welcome back to ImpactAlpha Open, your weekly dose of news, trends, deals and people moves in the impact economy. 

🤝 Agents of Impact are convening this week at the Latin America Impact Investing Forum and the Sorenson Impact Summit. ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering and Amy Cortese are in Mérida, Mexico and David Bank is in Snowbird, Utah. Say hello (or hola)!

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Impact in real estate;
  • Streamlining impact management; 
  • BIPOC-led climate startups; and
  • Soil wealth areas.

Let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Disability lens. Underestimated or overlooked founders can bring unique insights to untapped markets, as Roodgally Senatus reports in his piece about 2Gether’s Diego Mariscal and his network of nearly 600 disabled founders.
  • Year of the “S”. Agents of Impact Call No. 49 took up policymaking around the S – for social – in worker ownership, human capital disclosure and accounting, and banks’ accountability for fair lending to underserved communities. “What unites all of these is power to the S, power to the people, power to employees, power to communities, even to customers,” said Fran Seegull of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, which sponsored the Call. Read the recap and watch the replay.

    • Employees as assets. Forward-thinking founders and CEOs can treat, and account for, their employees (aka human capital) as assets, not liabilities, as Amy Cortese lays out.
    • Employee owners. When they’re ready to retire or otherwise exit, founders can sell to their own workers, rather than a private-equity firm, via one of the new channels for employee-ownership conversions, reports David Bank.
  • Institutional accountability. Speaking of private equity, be sure to read contributing editor Imogen Rose-Smith’s excellent takeout on the University of California’s $4.5 billion investment in Blackstone’s real estate investment trust.
  • Impact in real estateAmy Cortese details the real-estate strategy at work in a mixed-use development in Tacoma, Wash., that prioritizes affordable rents and accessible services.

    • Rural Opportunity Zones. In a video interview, Opportunity Alabama’s Alex Flachsbart (whom we profiled two years ago) and Patrick Mullen of Arctaris Impact Investors shared with me how they and others are leveraging Opportunity Zone tax breaks to bring capital to urban and rural areas long starved of it. 
  • Streamlining impact management. I round up more than a dozen efforts to streamline, standardize and benchmark impact data.

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Agents of Impact

🎓 Aunnie Patton Power: Educating next-gen impact investors

Cape Town, South Africa-based Aunnie Patton Power teaches impact investing to graduate students at Oxford University, the London School of Economics, New York University and the University of Cape Town. She’s published Adventure Finance to explicate creative financing options for founders and investors. And she advises on impact deal structuring and invests herself in early-stage social ventures through Dazzle, a women’s angel network. Patton Power’s Impact Finance Pro helps impact investing newbies and career-switchers navigate the still “very opaque” impact career space, she says.

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Laurie Felker Jones, an advisor to impact funders and founders, joins 2x Global as 2X certification lead.
  • John Vaske, ex- of Temasek, is named chief executive officer of Farmers Business Network, replacing co-founder Amol Deshpande.
  • Brian Buccella, ex- of Bird and Segway, joins Highland Electric Fleets as chief commercial officer.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On the podcast

The roundtable – that’s Brian WalshImogen Rose-Smith and David Bank – is back together to discuss private equity and, specifically, that $4.5 billion investment made by the investment office of the University of California’s Board of Regents into the Blackstone Real Estate Investment Trust. Plus, the headlines.

Deal Spotlight

💸 Black and Brown climate startups

Founders are using their proximity to communities and their own lived experience to build climate solutions (see, “Solving for climate justice is giving these Black investors an edge in the green economy”). Local accelerators and incubators are giving them an early boost. A half-dozen BIPOC-led climate startups, including Salem, Mass-based Active Surfaces, Cambridge, Mass.-based EarthBond and Houston-based DrinKicks will get access to funding and business development from a new year-long program accelerator from Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space.

Six Signals

💲 Anti-ESG tax. Republican-led states including Florida and Texas, that have banned Wall Street’s biggest municipal bond underwriters for ESG strategies, have foisted a hidden tax on their residents totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. (Bloomberg)

⚡ Southern states embrace climate spending. Republican-led states make up a new “battery belt” that has claimed the lion’s share of new renewable energy and electric vehicle activity since passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. (The Guardian)

🌾 Soil wealth areas. Special purpose soil-wealth improvement districts in North Carolina, Northern California, Oregon and Wisconsin can spark investment in regenerative agriculture, conservation on working farms and forests, and resilient rural economies. (Croatan Institute)

☀️ Climate + economic development. Developing countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and South Africa have new leverage to make a unified “ask” in global climate and development negotiations. (Brooking Institution)

🔋 Energy after Russia’s invasion. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gave a short-term boost to fossil fuels, yet it also spurred a clean-energy arms race. (MSCI)

📣 Blockchain and impact. Distributed asset ownership. Rightful land ownership. Parametric crop insurance. Basin’s Thomas Morgan round ups opportunities and challenges at the intersection of real world assets and regenerative finance (Basin)

Get in the Game 

💼 Step up

  • World Economic Forum is hiring an ethnic equity and social innovation specialist in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Kellogg Foundation seeks a mission driven investment analyst.
  • Village Capital is looking for a Mexico City-based investment analyst for Latin America.

Browse the full list of this week’s impact jobs on

🎬 Take action

  • Atlantic Council seeks applicants for The Climate Leadership Program to accelerate the careers of climate finance leaders across the USA, China, European Union, and African Union.
  • Oxford Impact Measurement Programme seeks applicants interested in learning how to measure and manage social and environmental impact.
  • Just Economy Institute is accepting applications for its 2023-2024 cohort of fellows.

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