ImpactAlpha Open | August 29, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Investing in resilience in Maui + wither anti-ESG

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Hi there, Agent of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletter of top news and opportunities in impact investing.

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In this week’s Open:

  • Investing in resilience in Maui
  • Pro Mujer’s gender bonds in Latin America
  • Building wealth for homeowners of color
  • The Swift, Beyonce and ‘Barbenheimer’ boost

Let’s get to it.  – Dennis Price

Top news in impact investing on ImpactAlpha

  • Investing in resilience. In Hawaii, Elemental Excelerator’s Dawn Lippert is betting on resilient microgrids, locally-grown food and community stewardship to help families thrive in the face of climate disasters like this month’s fires in Maui, I report. Dig in.
  • Anti-ESG or anti-assets? “ESG” and “woke” were nowhere to be heard in last week’s Republican debate. ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese explores why Woke, Inc. author Vivek Ramaswamy may be a better GOP runner-up than asset manager. Go deeper
  • Building equity. For low-income homeowners of color, thriving requires freedom from predatory loans. That’s the mandate of the $100 million Blackstar Stability Distressed Debt Fund, as Blackstar’s John Green explains in a Q&A with Roodgally SenatusRead the Q&A.
  • Gender bonds. Women-led social enterprises in Argentina are getting access to cheaper and more plentiful capital, I point out in a report on Pro Mujer’s rated gender bond on Argentina’s public bond market. Get the full story.
  • Native-led funds. In Indigenous communities, Kate Finn of First People’s Worldwide tells Jessica Pothering, Native-led financial lenders and investors are building “trust and ability to deliver capital in ways that are consonant with Indigenous leadership and self-determination.” Check it out.

Agents of Impact

🏃🏾‍♀️ People on the move

  • Mark Carney, former Bank of England chief, will chair Bloomberg’s new board of directors (see, “Mark Carney, Agent of Impact”).
  • Matt Eggers, ex- of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, joined Prelude Ventures as managing director.
  • MaC Venture Capital appointed Jennifer Randle, ex- of The Chernin Group, as chief operating officer.

The Call and Impact Briefing

🎧 Mobilizing capital in Indian Country (video)

A growing ecosystem of Native-led entrepreneurs, lenders, financial intermediaries and nonprofits are driving Indian Country’s emerging economy. “It’s kind of an unprecedented time,” exulted Change Lab’s Heather Fleming, a business incubator and lender in Navajo Nation, on last week’s Agents of Impact Call, “Catalyzing capital for Indian Country.” Tens of billions of dollars are becoming available to tribal communities in the US under the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act.

  • Seeding opportunities. Indigenous communities remain woefully underinvested. “I would invite investors and impact investors to think about how they can stretch… because Indian Country is growing so quickly,” said Kate Finn of First People’s Worldwide. Clay Colombe of Siċaŋġu Co., which oversees the 1,000-head, tribally-owned Wolakota Buffalo Herd, says catalytic grants for feasibility studies, land leasing and infrastructure were crucial to realize the tribe’s vision. “I don’t think you can overemphasize the importance of being first in on some of these really important efforts,” added John Balbach of the MacArthur Foundation.
  • Read the full recap from Jessica Pothering, watch the replay, and catch the highlights on the latest Impact Briefing podcast, with host Brian Walsh.

Six Signals: What We’re Reading

🎙️ The Swift, Beyonce and ‘Barbenheimer’ boost. The megastars’ tours and blockbuster films are expected to add up to $8.5 billion to US growth in the third quarter. (Bloomberg)

📊 Fairer financial markets. SEC rulemaking adopted last week will bring much-needed transparency to the private fund market. The rules regulating fund managers are “a win for America’s retirement savers,” argues Omidyar Network’s Chris Jurgens. “This should enable more capital to flow to the highest performing fund managers, and away from underperforming firms, resulting in better returns for retirement savers.” (Medium)

🤝 Ownership flywheel. Body shop Clegg Auto last year made all 55 employees owners last year through a transition to an employee ownership trust (see “A Utah auto shop demonstrates a pathway to worker ownership via a perpetual purpose trust”). One year on, Clegg has recorded a doubling in profit. “We had our best quarter in company history after becoming employee-owned,” said CEO Kevin Clegg. (Common Trust)

💲 Sustainable bonds’ bottom line. Social, green and blue bonds, and other sustainable fixed income tend to have a bottom-line rationale, writes Preeti Bhattacharji of J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “Issuers with environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings are often more competitive, with lower volatility and better returns.” (JP Morgan Private Bank)

🤖 + 🐟 AI and aquaculture. Half of all the software apps in the aquaculture industry have been launched in the last five years. Of a review of 82 software apps 70% use machine learning or deep learning algorithms, and 51% deploy computer vision and image-recognition algorithms. (ThisFish)

🔋 How Texas beat the heat. A battery boom is helping to stabilize the Texas power grid, offering a template for utilities that want to cut their greenhouse gasses even as air conditioners hum during increasingly common heat waves. (Scientific American)

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • MassMutual is recruiting a head of its First Fund in Boston.
  • Big Society Capital is hiring a venture investment manager in London.
  • Nia Impact Capital is looking for an equities analyst in Oakland.

Visit ImpactAlpha’s careers hub to view dozens of other impact investing jobs.

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