ImpactAlpha Open | March 21, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Metrics madness + social cost of carbon

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, a weekly roundup of news, trends and opportunities in impact investing. 

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Metrics madness
  • Essential services in emerging markets
  • Social cost of carbon
  • Battery storage startups

Ok, let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Larry Fink’s business case for ESG. BlackRock’s chairman walked a fine line on ESG in his annual letter, as ImpactAlpha contributing editor Imogen Rose-Smith detailed in her latest column. Fink never mentioned ESG, but affirmed BlackRock’s responsibility “to play a constructive role in the transition” to a low-carbon economy.
  • Metrics madness. In the spirit of the season, ImpactAlpha has kicked off Metrics Madness in partnership with the Southern Reconstruction Fund to identify the best metrics to guide investment strategies for bridging racial-wealth gaps and accelerating racial wealth-building. Read David Bank’s Q&A with Southern Reconstruction Fund’s Napoleon Wallace.

    • Nominate a metric. What’s the best indicator to use for tracking strategies to bridge racial wealth gaps and build racial wealth? Use this short form to nominate a metric to be included in next week’s finals.
    • Join the Call. Wallace will welcome leading agents of impact measurement and management for the fun and fruitful finale of Metrics Madness, on Call No. 50, Wednesday, March 29 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today
  • Closing equity gapsImpactAlpha’s Roodgally Senatus caught up with Kapor Capital’s Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor, who have a new book on their decade of seeding gap-bridging companies like BlocPower, Bitwise, Promise and Aclima.
  • ImpactAssets 50 – er, 163. This year’s showcase of impact investment fund managers highlights bigger funds, increasing diversity and a focus on climate tech and market-beating returns, reports ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese
  • Essential services. In a volatile global economy, Elevar Equity has found a safe, or at least safer, harbor: low-income customers, reports ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering.

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Agents of Impact

🏢 Ben McAdams, Sorenson Impact: Marrying public real estate and private capital (podcast)

What is the net worth of Salt Lake City? It’s a relatively straightforward exercise to total up the balance sheet of a company or an individual. But many cities don’t know what they own, much less what it’s all worth. As mayor of Salt Lake County a decade ago, Ben McAdams led an effort to map the value of the city’s underutilized real estate, which yielded an impressive number: at least $15 billion, and up to $45 billion if properties are developed thoughtfully. “I found out there is actually money under our mattress,” McAdams tells David Bank on this week’s Impact Briefing podcast. “It’s real estate that is just forgotten.” After his single term in Congress (as a Democrat from a deep red state), McAdams has been working with a half-dozen cities to tap the riches in underutilized public real estate.

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Mafalda Duarte is leaving Climate Investment Funds to join the Green Climate Fund as executive director, replacing Yannick Glemarec, who is stepping down from the role next month.
  • Gabe Kleinman, ex- of Obvious Ventures, joins Emerson Collective as venture capital operating partner.
  • David Barley, former director of Mirova’s sustainable oceans fund, joined Gravis Capital Management as an investment director.

Deal Spotlight

💸 Emerging market investors spot opportunities in essential products and services

Economic uncertainty has kept many investors out of emerging markets. Seasoned impact investors know where to spot steady and growing opportunities. “These are such essential services that we know businesses will continue to have these needs,” said Amee Parbhoo of Accion Venture Lab, which invested in three companies in Asia introducing financial services to small businesses in manufacturing, logistics and agriculture.

  • Value chains. In Uganda, woman-led Inua Capital last week closed $8 million for its first fund to invest in small and growing businesses that are strengthening production and supply chains for essential goods and agriculture. Renew Capital invested in Kenya’s Badili to improve affordable online and mobile access. In Latin America, Elevar Equity has backed skills training and job placement startup Galena, small business logistics and financial services provider Fairplay, and community-centric grocery provider Favo.
  • Read the full spotlight.

Six Signals

👩🏽‍🦱🧑🏼‍🦱👨🏾‍🦲👩🏻‍ “This ‘distraction’ is potentially the solution.” Black Women in Venture Capital, BLCK VC, 1863 Ventures and Living Cities are pushing back on the Wall Street Journal op-ed that claimed Silicon Valley Bank was “distracted by diversity demands” with data showing diverse boards and investing in diverse entrepreneurs has proven to be better for business and the U.S. economy. (1863 Ventures)

♿ Disability tech. Dealroom has compiled a database of more than 100 disability tech startups addressing dyslexia, visual/vision impairments, prosthetics and workplace solutions. (Dealroom)

🏭 Social cost of carbon. The social cost of carbon is an estimate of the cost, in dollars, of the damage done by each additional ton of carbon emissions. It also is an estimate of the benefit of any action taken to reduce a ton of carbon emissions. (Brookings Institution)

🚗 IRA’s impact after six months. More than $50 billion in U.S. electric vehicle investments, representing 42% of all EV investments in the last eight years, have occurred in the six months since passage of the Biden Administration’s climate bill. (Environmental Defense Fund)

🔋 Battery storage startups. The demand for utility-scale and distributed storage and electric vehicles is driving investment in energy storage, from battery developers to storage integrators. Clean Edge has mapped the emerging ecosystem of battery storage startups (Clean Edge)

⚡ Helping you electrify everything. The Inflation Reduction Act is full of incentives to help you and your family go electric. Rewiring America has compiled everything you need to know to maximize your savings (Rewiring America)

Get in the Game 

💼 Step up

  • Morgan Stanley’s Inclusive Ventures Group is looking for an investment analyst in Budapest.
  • Arctaris Impact Investors is looking for a private equity investment analyst and associate.
  • BlocPower is recruiting clean energy project associates in Oakland, San Jose and other locations.

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

🎬 Take action

  • Environmental Defense Fund is accepting applications from graduate students for its Climate Corps fellowship program.
  • Net Impacseeks applications for its 2023 Sustainable Cities Impact Investing Challenge.
  • The Workers Lab’s Innovation Fund is accepting applications from early-stage founders addressing challenges faced by workers for a fellowship program and an opportunity to win up to $150,000.

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