ImpactAlpha Open | May 14, 2024

ImpactAlpha Open: Investable climate resilience funds + tough truths about impact investing

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletter. Take advantage of these upcoming ImpactAlpha events to get a preview of the benefits of a full subscription:

🔌 On tomorrow’s Plugged In: Better, cheaper and faster climate impact. Climate volatility is here. Stonly Blue of Third Sphere looks for investments that foster climate resilience alongside the deployment of hardware-based climate solutions. Blue joins Plugged In host Sherrell Dorsey to share where he is finding deals and opportunities for climate impact, live on LinkedIn, tomorrow, May 15, at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP.

👋 The Call: A guide to investing in livelihoods and access for low-income people. Providers of high-quality, low-cost and often tech-enabled goods are reaching hundreds of millions of underserved households and business owners. International Finance Corp.British International Investment and the Dutch development finance institution FMO have developed the “Inclusive Business Investing Guide” to help investors expand the capital invested in generating positive outcomes for low-income people (see Impact Voices, below). On our next Agents of Impact Call, IFC’s Wagner Albuquerque de Almeida, BII’s Martina Castro, FMO’s Juan Dada, Elevar Equity’s Amie Patel and Citi Social Finance’s Borja Garcia Fernandez will offer practical guidance for investments that boost incomes, improve livelihoods and expand access, Wednesday, May 22 at 8am PT / 11am ET / 4pm London. RSVP today.

🎉 Take $100 off. Ready to go deeper, and daily, to unlock the alpha in impact? Subscribe today (and save 25%).

In this week’s Open:

  • Investable climate-resilience funds
  • Tonya Allen: Countering the attacks on DEI
  • Tough truths about impact investing
  • Generating alpha with quality frontline jobs

Ok, let’s get to it. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

Countering the attacks on DEI. Philanthropies have the “right and responsibility” to do more to counter right-wing attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion, Tonya Allen, head of McKnight Foundation, told me. Read my Q+A with Allen.

  • Tough truths about impact investing. Slow investment decision-making timelines mean foundations “miss major opportunities to drive positive change for populations for whom the markets have not worked,” writes Upstart Co-Lab’s Laura Callanan in a guest post. Her take.

Catalytic pension funds. In Singapore, Sweef Capital, a first-time woman-led fund, found an anchor investor in Danish pension scheme Paedagogernes Pension, writes Maria Braun, a consultant for the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. See how.

Investable climate-resilience funds. Institutional investors are getting behind a trio of $500 million impact funds for climate resilience featured on this month’s Liist of actively raising funds. Other funds are focused on regenerative farmland, and green infrastructure. Check them out.

Local capital for local solutions. Local impact funds Benefit Chicago, Boston Impact Initiative and Cleveland’s Readiness Fund for Good Jobs are tapping local family offices and foundations for time- and impact-aligned capital, reports Roodgally Senatus from ImpactPHL’s Total Impact Summit. Read more.

Agents of Impact

🎥 Ava DuVernay: Changing the narrative in Hollywood and beyond

“We’re a narrative-change studio in a town that is in a time of flux,” director Ava DuVernay told Ford Foundation’s Roy Swan at the closing session of last week’s Mission Investors Exchange conference in Los Angeles. DuVernay’s latest film, “Origin,” is a powerful reflection on the persistence of hierarchy across history and cultures, told through the story of how Isabel Wilkerson wrote her 2020 book, “Caste.” The story of how DuVernay made the movie is equally powerful.

🏃 On the move

  • George Ashton, previously with LISC Strategic Investments, will join Candide Group as CEO next month.
  • Amy Bell, previously with The Cook’s Nook and Whole Foods, joined MCE Social Capital as chief financial officer.
  • Nicole Sonderegger, a former energy programs director at Groundswell, joined Opportunity Finance Network as vice president of climate and environmental programs.

The Week’s Podcasts

🎧 This Week in Impact

Host Brian Walsh takes up ImpactAlpha’s top stories with editor David BankUp this week: The divergent vibes at Mission Investors Exchange and the Milken Institute Global Conference. Plus: a call for sustainable mining for minerals essential to the energy transition.

  • Listen to the new episode of This Week in Impact. Get the podcast in your feed by subscribing on Apple or Spotify.
  • Agents of Impact. On this week’s Agents of Impact podcast, VertueLab’s Aina Abiodun joins Sherrell Dorsey to discuss how the VertueLab accelerator is using a racial justice lens to build an inclusive climate tech ecosystem in the US Pacific Northwest. Listen.

Signals: Good Jobs

👷🏽 The next frontier of private equity value creation: Better jobs for frontline workers

Truck drivers. Care givers. Sales teams. Workers on the frontlines of business interactions are key drivers of value and profitability. Improving the quality of their jobs can reduce turnover, boost engagement, and decrease burnout. By delivering better jobs further down the organizational chart, some private equity firms are unlocking superior returns, says Ellen Frank-Miller of Workforce & Organizational Research Center, or WORC.

In Thinking beyond the C-suite pays off,” the center examines the role of human capital management in value creation at private equity firms with more than $5 billion in assets. Too often firms don’t have the time, money or energy to focus on quality jobs for frontline workers, Frank-Miller says. Instead, they focus on CEO recruitment and perhaps hold leadership accountable for workers’ satisfaction. “There’s so much untapped value being left on the table,” Frank-Miller told ImpactAlpha.

  • Driving value. From employee ownership to quality jobs, human capital management is reshaping private equity. Alongside pay and benefits, practices that drive value include job autonomy, professional growth opportunities, and perceived support from the organization, supervisors and coworkers. Smaller impact managers with an intentional quality jobs focus like HCAP Partners (a WORC client) and FoW Partners (formerly Two Sigma Impact) are poised to capture that value, says Frank-Miller.
  • Finding alpha. Larger fund managers like TPG and BlackRock are upping their game. Follow the money, says Ladell Robbins of BlackRock Impact Opportunities Fund. “In many businesses, that frontline interaction is what drives profitability and drives the success of the investment,” Robbins told WORC. For businesses heavily reliant on frontline workers, he says, “You really want to understand how those individuals are rewarded and compensated.”
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Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • Impact Assets is seeking an investment services associate in the US for a remote role.
  • The GIIN is hiring a head of market and credit risk in Amsterdam.
  • Hill and Knowlton is looking for a freelance ESG specialist and report writer in New York.

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

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