ImpactAlpha Open | July 2, 2024

ImpactAlpha Open: Obran’s cooperative conglomerate + Europe’s import carbon tax

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletter with top news, provocative views and plenty of opportunities to choose in impact investing and sustainable finance. 

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In this week’s Open:

  • Obran’s cooperative conglomerate
  • Europe’s import carbon tax
  • Specializing for impact in Latin America
  • Pooled loans for climate projects

Ok, let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Obran’s cooperative conglomerate. Obran, a worker-owned “cooperative conglomerate,” snagged an investment from Acumen America, Roodgally Senatus explains how Obran acquires small and mid-sized impactful and profitable businesses and transitions them to 100% employee ownership through its worker co-op structure. Check it out.
  • Europe’s import carbon tax. When the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism goes into effect in 2026, companies selling everything from steel to cement into the bloc will pay for their carbon emissions. With a few key changes, CBAM, as it is known, could usher in rigorous standards for carbon accounting and spread prosperity, not hurt it, explains Karthik Ramanna of the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. Read more.
  • Scaling impact with specialized funds. In a Q&A, early impact champion Rodrigo Villar of New Ventures explains how the Mexico City-based investment firm is scaling its impact, not by raising ever larger private equity funds, but by going deeper with specialized investment vehicles for women’s healthcare, ocean restoration, youth wellbeing and other challenges in Latin America. See how.
  • Surda’s impact investing outperformance. Surdna Foundation’s Don Chen told me that investments in impact fund managers like Impact America Fund are outperforming the foundation’s broader endowment. Read the Q+A.
  • Facilitating biodiversity. The social enterprise accelerator NESsT offers solutions to building sustainable bio-economies that protect critical natural resources, meet local communities’ economic needs and create new opportunities, reports ImpactAlpha’s Jessica PotheringLearn more.
  • Pooled loans for climate projects. Pooled loan funds, a time-tested structure in public finance, can be used to de-risk greenhouse gas reduction projects, Matt Posner of Court Street Group and James McIntyre of Inclusive Prosperity Capital argue on ImpactAlphaHear them out.

Agents of Impact

🏃 On the move

  • The California Endowment appointed Kelli Washington, formerly with Cleveland Clinic, as chief investment officer (see, “California Endowment goes ‘all-in’ on impact”)
  • Kate Cochran stepped down as the CEO of Upaya Social Ventures. AB Chakravarthy, Upaya’s India country director, and Shruti Goel, director of impact and partnerships, will become co-CEOs.
  • Ayana Parsons, co-founder of Fearless Fund, stepped down as chief operating officer.

The Week’s Podcast

🎧 This Week in Impact

Host Brian Walsh takes up top stories with ImpactAlpha’s Jessica PotheringUp this week: How New Ventures is going big by going niche, inside Obran’s worker-owned conglomerate of cooperatives, and why Surdna Foundation’s Don Chen is putting assets behind impact funds led by women and managers of color.

Short Signals: What We’re Reading

👷🏾‍♀️ Worker power. American workers are doing better than at any time on record, says a new report by the Economic Innovation Group. The median worker is better paid and better educated, workplaces have never been safer, employers are offering more benefits, and a record share of workers have access to paid sick and family leave. (EIG

😎 Solar abundance. Solar will likely be the biggest source of electrical power on the planet by the mid 2030s. “In its radical abundance, cheaper energy will free the imagination, setting tiny Ferris wheels of the mind spinning with excitement and new possibilities,” declares The Economist in an uncharacteristically exuberant package on solar power. (The Economist)

🌊 Building resilience. The US Chamber of Commerce, the powerful US business trade group known for lobbying against climate policy, is urging companies and cities to invest in climate resilience. Each $1 of investment in resilience and disaster preparedness reduces economic costs by $7 after an event, it says. That’s in addition to $6 of damage savings. (CoC)

🏦 Private debt. The number of private debt impact funds have grown nearly 250% over the past decade, to 394 funds (117 of them open for investment), according to Phenix Capital’s latest tally. More than two-thirds have an emerging market focus. “Investors like this strategy as a gateway to the emerging markets,” says Phenix. (Phenix Capital)

🌍 Climate majority. A global survey of 75,000 people in 77 nations found that 80% want their countries to step up their climate action and nearly 90% want them to put aside political differences and cooperate on addressing global warming. Some of the largest majorities were in fossil fuel-heavy counties including China, India and Saudi Arabia. (The Guardian

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • Honeycomb Credit seeks a director of strategic finance in Pittsburgh. 
  • Closed Loop Partners is hiring an associate analyst in New York.
  • Clean Energy Ventures is looking for an ESG impact manager for a US based remote role.

Visit ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub for more hundreds of more impact investing jobs.

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