ImpactAlpha Open: Lessons from impact failures + US hemp opportunity

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletters of top news and opportunities in impact investing and sustainable finance. Ready to go daily? Grab our intro offer.

Don’t miss these upcoming ImpactAlpha calls:

⚡ Plugged In: Local climate innovation. Join host Sherrell Dorsey in conversation with VertueLab’s Aina Abiodun live on LinkedIn, Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

📞 Agents of Impact Call: Women as agents of change for climate resilience. Join Camilla Nestor of MCE Social Capital, Shally Shankar of AiiM Partners, Noramay Cadena of Supply Change Capital, and Samantha Anderson and Rose Maizner from Heading for Change, Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

In this week’s Open:

  • Lessons from impact failures
  • Republicans’ big chill on shareholder action
  • Andrea Armeni’s quest to transform finance
  • US hemp opportunity

Let’s get to it. – Dennis Price


Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • The Liist: Impact fund managers target creators of quality jobs and economic mobility (Nov. 2023). Impact funds on this month’s Liist of managers currently raising capital are fostering livelihoods with a variety of strategies, report Jessica Pothering and Lucy Ngige. US-based JFF Ventures, the venture arm of nonprofit Jobs for the Future, invests in tech companies supporting worker upskilling and economic opportunities for low- and middle-income earners. See who made The LiistAnd explore more than 100 impact funds actively raising capital in the past year on The Liist, ImpactAlpha’s searchable database, a new subscriber benefit.
  • Republicans’ big chill on shareholder action. US Rep. Jim Jordan and other Republicans are saber-rattling over “ESG cartels,” issuing subpoenas to expose the “collusion” among shareholder activists pressing companies on climate risk, ImpactAlpha’s David Bank reports. Go deeper.
  • Tales from the conference circuit. Impact investors on the fall conference circuit hit back against the political attacks, as ImpactAlpha reported from Copenhagen, San Francisco, New York and elsewhere. Dive in.
  • Mandatory climate disclosure. California, under Gov. Gavin Newsom, and the European Union are moving ahead with mandatory climate (and diversity in venture capital) disclosure rules, Amy Cortese reports. Take a peek.
  • Lessons from Acumen’s failures. The patient capital investor shared lessons in failures from investments in 167 companies over two decades. “We cannot let a fear of failure stop us from taking the necessary risks,” Acumen’s Amrita Bhandari writes in a guest post. Collect the set.
  • Unlocking capital for climate and gender. As Jessica reports, MCE Social Capital tapped catalytic investors including Heading for Change to de-risk climate and gender investments in emerging markets (disclosure: Heading for Change is a sponsor of ImpactAlpha’s Climate + Gender coverage). Learn how.

Agents of Impact

👊 Andrea Armeni, NYU: On a quest to transform finance

Sustainable development? “More of the same.” Forest carbon credits? “Outside-imposed extraction.” Impact investing? “Are we really going far enough? Or are we just tweaking at the margins?” For Andrea Armeni, co-founder of the nonprofit Transform Finance, it’s not enough to interrogate the practices of legacy finance. He’s built a reputation for making impact investors uncomfortable as well. “At the root of all things is, ‘Who makes the decisions?’” Armeni, now a professor at NYU’s Wagner School, tells ImpactAlpha. “Where does the wealth end up being built?”

🏃🏾‍♀️ People on the move

  • Aaron Hay, ex- of Federated Hermes, and Phil Cliff, ex- of M&G Investments, joined UK-based Fidelity International as sustainable investing directors.
  • Claudia Da Conceicao, ex- of Standard Chartered Bank, joined the IFC as Southern Africa regional director.
  • Meghan McCormick, ex- of MDRC, joined Overdeck Family Foundation as a research and impact officer.

Sponsored by BlueMark

Impact management for asset allocators

Pension funds, family offices and other asset allocators face common blind spots when entering the world of impact investing. Among them: Measuring and managing impact throughout an investment’s life cycle. To help orient new asset allocators, BlueMark and CASE at Duke University have teamed up to produce “A field guide: Impact due diligence and management for asset allocators.” To accompany the report, BlueMark and CASE are hosting a discussion with leading asset allocators and asset managers.

  • Join the conversation. Join Luyen Tran of International Finance Corp., Leslie Kapin of Astanor Ventures, Emily Schiller of Jordan Park, and Kenza Himmi of the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, in conversation with CASE’s Cathy Clark and BlueMark’s Sarah Gelfand, Wednesday, Nov. 8 at noon ET.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On the podcast

ImpactAlpha’s Dennis Price catches up with María Hollan, a second-generation steward of her family’s assets at Timke Ventures in Mexico City. Hollan was in Medellín at the GLI Forum Latam looking for opportunities to invest with a gender lens across asset classes. Host Monique Aiken has the headlines. 

  • Listen to the latest episode, or watch it on Youtube, and follow all of ImpactAlpha’s podcasts on AppleSpotify or wherever you listen.

Short Signals: What We’re Reading

🙏 Losing faith in impact? Faith has a stated role in the investment policies and guidelines statements of just over half of faith-based asset owners (down from 69% in prior research), according to FaithInvest. Just over a third (36%) explicitly permit impact investing (slightly down from the prior study). (FaithInvest)

🏢 Real estate impact funds. Impact in real estate investments can range from building more affordable housing to using more sustainable materials in construction and reducing energy consumption in-use. Phenix Capital has identified 174 real impact estate funds that have raised €33 billion ($35 billion) with 76 funds that are open for investment. (Phenix Capital)

🌿 The US hemp opportunity. After 80 years of legal prohibition, the nascent U.S. hemp industry is decades behind that in countries like China, Canada and France. With policy, private investment and market development, US hemp could reach $2.2 billion in annual revenue by 2030, create up to 10,000 jobs and sequester over two million tons of CO2. (bioSolutions Initiatives)

💲 The (sorry) state of climate blended finance. Total blended finance deal volume decreased by roughly 45% last year, according to Convergence; blended climate finance was down 55%. One bright spot: Transactions that address climate mitigation and adaptation goals attracted almost half of institutional investments into climate finance. (Convergence)

☀️ Climate in the boardroom. Amundi, LGIM, and Franklin Templeton stood out in their proxy voting against board directors at climate-critical companies. BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, and Fidelity all served to “rubber-stamp” existing board directors of recalcitrant climate-critical companies. (Majority Action)

🇳🇬 Nigeria’s solar gamble. An abrupt decision to end fuel subsidies in Lagos is jump-starting a solar future – and making electricity more expensive in Africa’s biggest city. (Bloomberg)


 Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • Schneider Electric seeks an impact and ESG analyst in Singapore.
  • Nuveen is hiring a renewable energy investment associate in Charlotte, NC.
  • Calvert Impact seeks a technical services and impact officer.

NEW! Visit ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub for more impact investing jobs. Contact us for job postings.

🤝 Meet up

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