ImpactAlpha Open | October 31, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Socap’s defiant optimists + US ‘green bank’

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Hi there, Agents of Impact! A few items on this week’s to-do list:

📬 Share your story. Like many of you, we’re lifting our heads up from an active fall conference season. It’s been great to connect with many of you in person to learn about new models and creative structures for driving impact around the globe. Have something to share? Shoot us a note.

⚡ Join us on the next Plugged In. Nigeria-born climate entrepreneur and “professional nomad” Aina Abiodun is bullish on place-based climate innovation. “There is nothing more urgent than when you’re living the disaster,” says Abiodun, who joined Portland-based climate nonprofit VertueLab early this year. VertueLab has funded climate tech in the US Pacific Northwest for 15 years. “Let’s tackle this thing from a local perspective and see how we can build it out.” Join Abiodun and Plugged In host Sherrell Dorsey on LinkedIn Live, Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

🎉 Ending soon: Take 75% off. “For newcomers and OG impact investors alike, ImpactAlpha is the must-read news source,” says Priya Parrish of Impact Engine. “I get the quick headlines on deals and investors, while also benefiting from in-depth coverage of themes and trends in our fast-changing industry.” Join Parrish and subscribe with our best deal of the year. Unlock offer.

In this week’s Open:

  • Defiant optimists at Socap
  • Mitigating water risk
  • Here comes the US ‘green bank’
  • Climate tech companies to watch

Let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Defiant optimists at Socap. Adam Smith’s theory that the “invisible hand” of the market delivers optimal public welfare through the strict pursuit of self-interest was never a satisfactory explanation for the “defiant optimists” who for 16 years (with a pandemic break) have gathered at SOCAP, the social capital markets conference in San Francisco. “There have been a ton of human hands in the markets, designing them to do exactly what they are doing today,” Jeff Cyr of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners said at SOCAP this week (see ImpactAlpha’s coverage on gender-lens investing and from DEI to shared prosperity).
  • Creative capital in MENA. In Tunisia, USAID Invest, CrossBoundary, and Flat6Labs deployed first-loss capital to mitigate risk for investors and help a half-dozen high-impact entrepreneurs weather a challenging market, USAID Invest’s Kristin Kelly Jangraw shares on ImpactAlphaGet her take.
  • Mitigating water risk. Shareholder activists, led by Ceres, are using new data to pressure corporations to do a much better job managing increasingly scarce water supplies, Andrea Riquier reports. Go deeper.
  • Here comes the US ‘green bank.’ Lenders, community groups and consortiums of nonprofits are vying for a piece of the $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund, aka a national ‘green bank,’ to finance green energy and climate resilience projects with a health focus on lower-income and disadvantaged communities, Andrea reports. Check it out.

Agents of Impact

💃 Dressed for impact

How does your outfit express your impact? ImpactAlpha contributor Maura Dilley put the question to some of the many fashionable attendees at last week’s SOCAP. “The outfit is a symbol for sustainability in Japan,” said Masaki Kawai of UNERI (left). “This is a yakata, a 500-year-old Japanese fashion – the opposite of fast fashion.”

🏃🏾‍♀️ People on the move

  • Transform Finance names Curt Lyon as executive director, succeeding Andrea Armeni, who is now director of Social Impact, Innovation and Investment at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.
  • Impax Asset Management appoints Ross Pamphilon, ex- of Wells Fargo Asset Management, as head of fixed income.
  • Chelsea McDaniel, ex- of Activest, joins Common Future as director of impact investments.

Sponsored by Hope Credit Union

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Impact Briefing

🎧 On the podcast

David Bank catches up with Courageous Capital Advisors’ Laurie Spengler on what the mainstreaming of impact investing means for smaller impact fund managers closer to the problems and community-based solutions. Host Brian Walsh has the headlines. 

Short Signals: What We’re Reading

🤝 Shifting governance rights. Wealth and ownership are important, but so is the fundamental right of workers and other stakeholders to decide how their companies work for them, argue Transform Finance’s Andrea ArmeniCurt Lyon and Julie Menter. (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

🤖 Digital edge for Black entrepreneurs. The BLADE Blueprint study surveyed nearly 900 Black entrepreneurs to understand how they are creating wealth through digital businesses. More than three-quarters owned profitable businesses (vs. 54% for all small businesses owned by people of color and 66% for all small businesses). (Plexus and Black Innovation Alliance)

⚡ Climate tech companies to watch. From nuclear fusion (Commonwealth Fusion Systems) to plant-based burgers (NotCo), MIT Technology Review highlights startups and established businesses it believes have the greatest potential to substantially reduce greenhouse-gas emissions or otherwise address global warming. (MIT Technology Review)

💧 A market for water savings in Latin America. After years of selling irrigation management tools to farmers, Argentina-based Kilimo adjusted its business model to focus on “water neutrality” for corporations. The concept is “like carbon markets but specifically tied to water savings,” says Kilimo’s Jairo Trad(AgFunderNews)

🌐 Investing in sustainable development. A loan to an electric mobility company in Kenya. Political risk insurance for a hospital in Ukraine. And equity in a sustainable forestry venture in West Africa. The US International Development Finance Corp. has approved $3.4 billion in transactions so far in the fourth quarter. (DFC)

🇺🇸 Decarbonizing the United States. Recent energy and climate policies have put the US on a path to zero net-emissions by mid-century, scientists find in a new report. “The main challenge now is effective implementation of these policies,” said Stephen Pacala of Princeton University. (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine)

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • Schmidt Family Foundation has an opening for an investment analyst.
  • Kensington Corridor Trust seeks an investment and fundraising lead in Philadelphia.
  • California State Teachers’ Retirement System is recruiting a Sacramento-based associate portfolio manager for sustainable investment and stewardship strategies.

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

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