ImpactAlpha Open | June 20, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Off-grid solar market shifts + reckoning for vertical farming

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Hi there, Agents of Impact! Watch this space: Our 48-hour flash sale starts tomorrow. 

In this week’s Open:

  • Off-grid solar market shifts
  • Reckoning for vertical farming
  • Institutional capital for local impact
  • Sizing the market for impact management

Ok, let’s dig in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Off-grid market shifts. Don’t miss Jessica Pothering’s tour of the new off-grid solar landscape in Africa, including interviews with Zola’s Bill Lenihan, Sun King’s Anish Thakkar and M-KOPA’s Jesse Moore.
  • Institutional capital for local impact. At Momentus Securities, Alicia Reyes and Ellis Carr are taking a page from the corporate credit market to recycle capital for housing, healthcare, food and small businesses with “social collateralized loan obligations,” reports David Bank.
  • Active engagementIvy Jack of Gender Diverse Investing Collective and more than a dozen other members of Confluence Philanthropy are developing tools to help investment decision-makers advance racial equity, including through active ownership of public equities.
  • Catalytic capital at family offices. Family offices and high net-wealth individuals, Toniic’s Dario Parziale reports, are embracing the use of catalytic capital to realize impact opportunities that otherwise would not come to fruition.
  • Targeting solutions. Calvert Impact, Nia Impact Capital, CIRCA500, Impak and many others are using impact and equity lenses to bring new financial products to market, I report.
  • Returns on inclusion. Known Holdings is building a diverse-led asset management firm to chip away at the disparity, reports Amy Cortese.

Agents of Impact

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Emma Sissman, a former portfolio director at SJF Ventures, joins Goldman Sachs as vice president of sustainable investments.
  • Lafayette Square’s Antony Bugg-Levine steps into an additional role as president of Lafayette Square Foundation.
  • Transform Finance’s Andrea Armeni joins the faculty of NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service as director of social impact, innovation and investment, succeeding Scott Taitel, who is retiring this fall.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On the podcast

Host Monique Aiken has the headlines and Known Holding’s Valerie Red-Horse Mohl joins David Bank to talk about moving capital at scale to elevate communities of color.

The Call

👋 Agents of Impact Call No. 51: Muni impact

Demand for municipal bonds that address racial equity and other social issues outstrips the supply of such products. “This is a moment where we’re really seeing demand [for fixed-income investments] spike,” Preeti Bhattacharji of J.P. Morgan Private Bank said on this week’s Call. Bhattacharji joined Harvard’s David Wood and SEIU’s Renaye Manley, Breckinridge’s Tim Coffin, Heron’s Barbara VanScoy, and Lourdes Germán of the Public Finance Initiative to explore “racial equity audits” and other strategies asset owners can use to move muni bond managers, underwriters and issuers toward action and accountability.  

Deal Spotlight

💸 Collapse of AeroFarms augurs a reckoning for vertical farming

AeroFarms has gone from the poster child of farming’s high-tech urban future to a cautionary tale. The Newark, NJ-based B Corp’s bankruptcy last week is the latest in a string of bad news for vertical farming ventures, which have raised billions of dollars from investors (see, “Vertical farming ventures bring in the big bucks despite sustainability issues“). Scotland-based Intelligent Growth Solutions is bucking the trend.

Six Signals

1. Sizing the market for impact management. The global impact measurement and management sector, which includes MSCI, S&P, Bloomberg, Morningstar, Moody’s and others, grew to $7.7 billion in revenue in 2020 and is expected to grow at 15% per year to become a $31.2 billion sector by 2030. (Aspire Impact)

2. Entry-level bias. Firms that took part in the annual investment consultant survey of the Diverse Asset Managers Initiative show less racial and gender diversity across their more junior staff versus those in last year’s survey. (DAMI)

3. Mitigating racial inequity risk. Investors are taking on systemic inequities by going beyond corporate governance and other portfolio-level actions to system-level actions, including collaborating with peers, building shared knowledge bases, setting new industry standards and wielding political influence. (The Investment Integration Project)

4. Investing in women’s health. To support a thriving environment for women’s reproductive health, investors can deploy their usual tools, from due diligence to engagement, advocacy, and screening. They can be much more effective if they also contribute to a healthy policy conversation on women’s health. (Preventable Surprise)

5. Edge for US-made renewables. Components of wind and solar produced in the United States are now cheaper than imports, according to a study by Dartmouth and Princeton researchers. The catalyst: Manufacturing credits in the Inflation Reduction Act. (Electrek)

6. Evolving role of chief sustainability officers. They once focused on optics and reputation. Today, many are interacting with investors and helping set strategy, report Robert Eccles and Alison Taylor(Harvard Business Review)

Get in the Game 

💼 Step up

  • SJF Ventures is hiring an impact director in New York.
  • The California Endowment seeks an impact investing officer for program-related investments in Fresno.
  • Blue Like an Orange is looking for a junior financial officer in Luxembourg.

Don’t miss dozens of more impact jobs curated this week on

🤝 Meet up

Don’t miss these upcoming impact investing events:

  • Jamie Beck Alexander of Project Drawdown is hosting a webinar on capitalism vs. climate change, tomorrow, June 21.
  • Also tomorrow, the first session kicks off for this year’s IMPACT FIRE TALKS, an investor-only, free online event that focuses mainly on the European impact investing market.
  • Greenbiz is hosting “Greenfin” June 26-28 in Boston.

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