ImpactAlpha Open | January 17, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Structuring finance for impact + climate SPACs

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to this week’s edition of ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletter of careers, connections and capital opportunities for Agents of Impact.

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Catalytic capital for scaling;
  • Human rights in impact investing;
  • Climate SPAC déjà vu; and
  • Lab-grown wood.

Let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Catalytic capital for scaling. Impact investors often use catalytic capital to seed social and environmental innovation or subsidize strategies, managers and business models that are demonstrably impactful but not yet commercially investable. A few catalytic investors are going further: using patient, flexible or risk-taking financing to take early successes to scale, writes Courageous Capital’s Laurie Spengler in the kickoff to our Scaling Impact series with the Catalytic Capital Consortium. 
  • Returns on inclusion. A human rights approach in impact investing can help investors proactively identify and account for social risks, impacts and opportunities, and therefore maximize positive impact at the investment and systems levels, argue Kate Finn of First Peoples Worldwide, Mary Beth Gallagher of Domini Impact Investments, and BSR’s Kindra Mohr in a guest post on ImpactAlpha.
  • Anti-ESG fallout. The GOP has ditched its “pro-business” stance with attacks on ESG that hurt corporations, investors – and red states, argues ImpactAlpha contributing editor Imogen Rose-Smith in her latest Institutional Impact column. The projected added costs to issue municipal bonds in just seven states mulling ESG boycotts tops $1 billion, reports Andrea Riquier for ImpactAlpha.
  • Pre-deployment capital. The Milken Institute’s new Community Infrastructure Center aims to help underserved communities access once-in-a-generation federal funding opportunities. “The idea is: how do you connect high-demand, highly replicable projects with the experts and capital that can help?” Milken’s Dan Carol told ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese.

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Agents of Impact

🏗️ Laurie Spengler, Courageous Capital Advisors: Structuring and designing finance for impact

A small business lender in the Mississippi delta. A microfinance bank in Uganda. A global development finance institution in London. Laurie Spengler is often the person to call to structure a transaction or design a financial vehicle to move capital toward impact. “I care deeply about alignment between the source and the use of capital,” Spengler tells ImpactAlpha. “Not just the quantum, but the terms and conditions for the capital to enable the impact to be realized.

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Stefan den Doelder, ex- of Stafford Capital Partners, joined North Sky Capital as a managing director in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the firm’s first office in Europe.
  • Oak HC/FT promoted Eliza Adams and Tess Munsie to vice president and Stephen Dierks to head of fintech talent.
  • Neonu Jewell, ex- of Niyah Center, joined the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation as chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On this week’s podcast

Milken Institute’s Dan Carol and Rachel Halfaker join host Brian Walsh to share how they are connecting historically disadvantaged communities with the huge sums of public and private financing looking for actionable green infrastructure projects. Plus, the headlines.

Deal Spotlight

💸 Climate SPAC déjà vu

Spanish green hydrogen developer H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies last week announced plans to go public via acquisition. The news follows electric vehicle battery tech developer Noco-Noco’s plans to be acquired and taken public by a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. At least 17 other climate tech companies announced SPAC listings in December. The fundraising trick, which involves listing a specially designed entity on a stock exchange in order for the purpose of buying a private company, was immensely popular during the boom market of late 2020-early 2021. SPACs have since faltered. 

Six Signals

📈 Stakeholder performance. Bank of America topped this year’s Just Capital rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies by raising its minimum wage to $22 an hour (and committing to $25 an hour by 2025), investing millions in career development and tuition assistance, offering 16 weeks of paid parental leave, completing a pay equity analysis, and disclosing workforce data by race and gender. (Just Capital)

🏙️ Reshaping city economies. Five new market dynamics – manufacturing, climate, innovation, place, and procurement – are reshaping city and metropolitan economies, writes Bruce Katz of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab. City leaders “must be present at the creation, taking advantage of opportunities as they arise, addressing challenges before they fester,” he says. The good news: “these leaders have access to a dizzying array of federal and (occasionally) state resources.” (The New Localism)

🚨 Risky business. “Cost of living” tops the World Economic Forum’s list of global risks over the next two years as global leaders gather at the forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “Failure to mitigate climate change” is the most severe risk over a 10-year period. Among new entrants to the short and long-term risk rankings: “Large-scale involuntary migration.” (World Economic Forum).

👷 Good green jobs. A shortage of skilled labor could derail efforts to “electrify everything.” Among the career pathways for aspiring electricians: community colleges, union apprenticeship programs and local nonprofits. (Grist)

🌳 Lab-grown wood. Researchers at MIT created customizable wood in their lab from the cells of a flowering plant known as Zinnia elegans, popularly referred to as common zinnia. (Interesting Engineering)

🐶 Charging pups. Dogs prefer electric cars to diesel vehicles, found researchers at University of Lincoln, with the smoother ride reducing their heart rate by up to 30%. (Daily Mail)

Get in the Game 

💼 Step up

  • Bain Capital is looking for an ESG manager for impact measurement and reporting.
  • The ImPact seeks a catalytic capital senior associate.
  • Village Capital is looking for an Africa regional lead.

🎬 Take action

  • The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network is accepting applications for a 16-week investment readiness accelerator program for young social entrepreneurs until Friday, Feb. 10.
  • Brookings Institution seeks proposals on state and local fiscal policy and public finance for its annual Municipal Finance Conference, July 18-19 in Washington, D.C.
  • The Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge will open applications on Jan. 31 for grants and technical assistance.

🤝 Meet up

  • Opportunity Finance Network is soliciting session proposals for its 2023 Connect+ and Small Business Finance forums, which are being held on March 21. Submissions are due by January 31.  
  • Ceres will host its Ceres Global gathering March 22-24 in New York and is accepting applications for registration scholarships.

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