ImpactAlpha Open | March 7, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: March’s Liist of impact funds + climate alpha in public markets

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to this week’s ImpactAlpha Open, a weekly cheat sheet to investing in the impact economy.

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In this week’s newsletter:

  • March’s Liist of impact funds;
  • Climate alpha in public markets;
  • VC for Black and Latino founders; and
  • Entrepreneurship in the Navajo Nation.

Ok, let’s dig in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • The Liist (March). Appropo this week’s International Women’s Day, female fund managers dominate March’s Liist of impact funds raising capital. Among them: WakeUp Capital, which is filling a need for early-stage equity funding among Ireland’s social enterprises, report ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering and Roodgally Senatus.
  • Regeneration and risk-taking in Latin America. Technology took a backseat to natural assets like land, farms and people at last week’s Latin American Impact Investing Forum, or FLII, in Mérida, Mexico, Jessica and Amy Cortese report from the Yucatán capital.

    • Fund managers are responding to an entrepreneurial boom in the region with specially-designed vehicles for underserved and underinvested founders and sectors, Jessica wrote in a conference curtain-raiser.
  • Skiing is believing. The powder was deep and so were the conversations at the Sorenson Impact Summit, held this year at the Snowbird ski resort in Utah, reports ImpactAlpha’s David Bank from Utah. “There are diamonds in the asphalt, but you have to know how to find them,” said CNN commentator Van Jones, who is increasingly investing for impact (he participated in last week’s financing for BlocPower).
  • Returns on inclusion. Brooklyn-based BlocPower and Fresno-based Bitwise Industries demonstrated the opportunity in bottom-up solutions, with large fund raises to help low-income communities transition to cleaner energy sources and good jobs, as ImpactAlpha’s Roodgally Senatus reports.

    • Dalberg’s Rachna Saxena and Shruthi Jayaram argue that investments in the care economy gain an edge when they also deliver for care workers.
    • Smitha Das of World Education Services previews the organization’s shift toward “trust-based investing.” 
  • Muni impactAndrea Riquiereports how negative outcomes on the ground in cities like Kalamazoo, Michigan demonstrate the need for ESG standards in municipal bond markets.

Sponsored by CalCEF Innovations

Seeking proposals for a China climate ETF or mutual fund

California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) Innovations, a nonprofit public benefit corporation, is seeking proposals from sustainable financial advisors and fund management companies that specialize in the development of climate-aligned exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, as well as the marketing of those investment products to U.S.-based retail and institutional investors.

  • The purpose of the request for proposals is to expand China-focused, climate-aligned investment product offerings for the U.S. market through the development of a climate-friendly fund product – in the form of an ETF, index fund or mutual fund, which tracks a designated climate index. The RFP will offer a sponsorship of up to $300,000 to deliver the fund. All work required for regulatory approval must be concluded by October 31, 2023.
  • How to apply. All proposals must be submitted by Friday, March 31. 

Agents of Impact

💡 Heather Fleming, Change Labs: Bringing social innovation to the Navajo Nation

Heather Fleming started an industrial design firm to do thoughtful, community-centered design. Several years ago, she brought her skills back to her hometown of Tuba City, population 8,609, the largest community on the Navajo Nation. The organization she started, Change Labs, is an entrepreneurship incubator that has supported hundreds Navajo and Hopi-run businesses across the largest tribal community in the U.S. Change Labs is one of 10 ventures in Common Futures’ new accelerator for organizations developing creative models to close the racial wealth gap. 

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Saurabh Bajaj, ex- of Proterra Investment Partners, joins LeapFrog Investments’ climate investment team as director of investments for Southeast Asia. Other additions to the LeapFrog’s climate investment strategy include Katherine Owens, ex- of EY, as associate director of impact measurement and management; Nimish Desai, ex- of Relativity Investment Management, as an associate director; and Akshi Sharma, also ex- of Relativity, as an investment associate. 
  • Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital promotes Jeffrey Lipson to president and CEO. He will replace Jeffrey Eckel, who will become executive chair. Marc Pangburn will replace Lipson as chief financial officer.
  • NatureVest promotes Julie Abrams to managing director of investment origination.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On the podcast

2X Global’s Sana Kapadia joins host Monique Aiken to ring in Women’s History Month and talk about the state of gender-lens investing. Plus, the headlines. 

Deal Spotlight

💸 ESG in private markets

Limited partners in venture capital and private equity funds are deemphasizing ESG considerations, according to a survey by Adams Street PartnersOne reason: the difficulty of backing up ESG claims with clear evidence and reporting. New York-based ESG data and benchmarking platform Novata raised $30 million in Series B financing this week to streamline ESG measurement and benchmarking for private companies and private-markets investors. Novata’s raise is among a flurry of recent deals in ESG and impact data providers. 

Six Signals

💦 Tesla’s blue green-light. The EV maker secured rights to build a new “gigafactory” in northern Mexico after a notable concession in the arid border region: a commitment to recycle water used in the assembly process. (Reuters)

🇰🇪 Green entrepreneurship in Kenya. Energy efficiency and storage, sustainable transportation, water management, green buildings and five other climate-related sectors represent a $122.7 billion market opportunity for small businesses in Kenya. (ANDE)

📈 Climate alpha in public markets. Companies on the Carbon Clean 200 list of publicly traded companies leading the clean energy transition have generated a total return of 91.2%, compared to 87.8% for the MSCI ACWI broad market index and 61.3% for the MSCI ACWI/Energy Index of fossil fuel companies. (As You Sow and Corporate Knights)

👩🏽‍🦱🧑🏼‍🦱👨🏾‍🦲👩🏻‍🦰 Diversity in asset management. A group of 600 large asset managers known as the Institutional Allocators for Diversity Equity & Inclusion has partnered with Clade to increase placements with the 900 diverse fund managers in the fintech’s database. (Bloomberg)

💲 VC for Black and Latino founders. The list of Black and Latino startups that have raised $1 million in venture capital funding grew to 1,128 in 2022 up from 870 the year before. (Harlem Capital)

📜 ESG standards explained. Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures. Carbon Disclosure Project. Duke MBA Daniel Gadigian rounds up the rapidly evolving world of ESG and sustainability regulation and standards. (CASE at Duke)

Get in the Game 

💼 Step up

  • Environmental Defense Fund seeks a managing director of sustainable finance and for its EDF+Business.
  • Community Investment Management is recruiting a chief operating officer in San Francisco.
  • Align Impact is looking for an investment research summer analyst in Santa Monica.

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

🎬 Take action

  • Applications are open for Google’s Black Founders Fund in Africa, Brazil, Europe and the U.S., as well as its Latino Founders Fund in the U.S.
  • VC Include will begin accepting applications for the 2023 fellowship for BIPOC first-time fund managers on Monday, April 3.
  • Aunnie Patton Power and Accion Venture Lab’s Ashley Lewis launch Impact Finance INSIDERS to support impact talent.

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