ImpactAlpha Open | September 12, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Impact managers scaling up + Africa’s climate opportunity

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome back to ImpactAlpha Open, where we collect resources and insights for the growing wave of professionals driving climate tech, inclusive business models and impact investing.

Ready for more? Get the news and intelligence the impact pros read daily with an all-access subscription (with a special introductory offer).

In this week’s Open:

  • The Liist: Impact managers scaling up
  • Corporate impact reporting
  • Africa’s climate opportunity
  • Electric car tipping point

Let’s dig in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Africa’s climate opportunity. Nowhere is the scale of the problems bigger than in Africa; that makes African solutions major opportunities as well. The world needs Africa’s help in the climate fight just as much as Africa needs the world’s, ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering and contributor Lucy Ngige report from the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. On the ground.
  • The Liist: Impact managers scaling up. It’s just as hard to raise $10 million as it is to raise $100 million, or perhaps even harder. Given the tough economics of fund management, three of the funds in this month’s Liist of impact funds actively raising capital have hundred-million-dollar targets. Two others are seeking up to $250 million. The step-ups reflect the increasing sophistication of impact fund managers, as well as the scale of the challenges they are addressing. Check out The Liist.
  • Corporate impact reporting. Markets around the globe are likely to require companies to report on their social and environmental impact before the end of the decade. Some US companies are getting ahead of the regulatory curve. “Those organizations in the US that are using GRI standards today are going to be in a much better position to be able to respond to these newly mandated policies,” says GRI’s JB Hillman, who with colleague Matthew Rusk spoke with me about GRI’s US push and the evolving landscape of impact reporting. Read the Q&A.
  • Challenging wealth supremacy. In an essay on ImpactAlpha, Democracy Collaborative’s Marjorie Kelly, author of “Wealth Supremacy,” called out impact investors and sustainability financiers not only for the inadequacy of half-measures, but for thinking too small. “Those of us seeking change have yet to coherently, collectively dream of a next system,” Kelly says. “We’re not dreaming at the scale of the problem.” Dig in.

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Agents of Impact

Christopher Bentley, De-Carceration Fund

⚖️ Christopher Bentley, De-Carceration Fund: Lifting ‘justice tech’ entrepreneurs

In 15 years in impact investing, Christopher Bentley noticed “a lot of for-profit companies focused on the criminal justice system that were bad actors, using extractive business models or perpetuating a bad system by virtue of the way they did business.” Bentley and co-managing partner Lawrence Williams lead the De-Carceration Fund, which is raising $25 million to back a dozen or more companies with innovative solutions to the US criminal justice system. “I wanted to find innovators building solutions to drive the changes that we want to see in the system, as opposed to the changes we don’t want to see,” Bentley tells ImpactAlpha

🏃🏾‍♀️ People on the move

  • Matthew Weatherley-White, ex- of Caprock Group, joins Align Impact as chief investment officer.
  • Waleed Elgohary, ex- of CPP Investments, joined Apollo Global Management in London to focus on climate investments.
  • Mack Schow, ex- of German Investment Corp., joined Adenia Partners as head of investor relations.

Impact Briefing

Robert Munson, president of SOCAP and managing director at the Sorenson Impact Center

🎧 On the podcast

David Bank catches up with Robert Munson, president of SOCAP and managing director at the Sorenson Impact Center, who is leading the team putting together next month’s SOCAP gathering in San Francisco. Host Brian Walsh has the headlines. 

  • Listen to this week’s episode, and follow all of ImpactAlpha’s podcasts on AppleSpotify or wherever you listen.
  • Throwback podcast. Together at last year’s SOCAP, Monique AikenRodney Foxworth and David Bank recorded, SOCAP is back.”

Six Signals: What We’re Reading

⚡🚗 Electric car tipping point. On the technology adoption curve, change becomes embedded at about 5% penetration, the point when early adopters are joined by the early majority. Electric cars have reached 5% of new car sales in nearly a dozen countries, according to Bloomberg Green (Bloomberg)

🔋 Striking lithium gold. A world-beating deposit of lithium along the Nevada–Oregon border, needed to meet surging demand for the key ingredient in electric car batteries, is larger than deposits found beneath a Bolivian salt flat, previously considered the world’s largest. (ChemistryWorld)

🛢️ Oil majors’ climate goals. Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, has the weakest climate pledges. Italian energy company Eni is the only energy major with targets “potentially” aligned with Paris. A Carbon Tracker ranking of emissions-reduction commitments made by 25 of the world’s largest listed energy companies shows climate progress has stalled. (Carbon Tracker)

🗳️ Proxy season snapshot. Shareholder advocates at As You Sow conducted 210 corporate engagements with 169 companies addressing climate change, racial justice and other issues this proxy season. Of the 111 resolutions filed, almost half were withdrawn after the company agreed to terms. Of the 48 resolutions that went to a vote, 96% exceeded the SEC’s resubmission threshold. (As You Sow)

🌎 Unlocking SDG opportunities. Despite early hype, neither companies nor investors view the $2.5 trillion annual gap to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals as an investment opportunity, argues Oxford Said’s Robert Eccles. Needed, says Eccles, is a massive increase in catalytic capital to make SDG investments pencil out. (Responsible Investor)

👷🏽Worker ownership is bipartisan. Employee-owned companies – from Publix to Southwest Airlines – are demonstrating the potential to grow successful businesses while improving workers’ lives (listen to our podcast conversation with Impact America’s Jack Moriarty, “Why employee ownership is the next big thing in impact – and America”). In the US, the bipartisan WORK Act, passed as part of January’s spending bill, establishes state centers to help businesses convert to employee ownership. (The Hill)

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • KKR Global Impact seeks a senior manager.
  • Mission Driven Finance is recruiting an Indigenous Futures director. 
  • Northern Arc Capital seeks a senior associate of impact and ESG in Mumbai.

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

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