This week in impact investing: A new fund from the makers of Sesame Street backs childhood health and education ventures; alternative fish feed producer Calysta teams up with Cargill; Sanergy raises $1.7 million for franchise toilets in Kenya; and retail investors in Canada can now invest online in CoPower’s first green bond.
New Sesame Ventures and Collaborative Fund for childhood health and education startups. The producer of Sesame Street has launched a $10 million fund for companies in early childhood health and education. Collab+Sesame Fund is a partnership between Sesame Workshop’s venture arm and the backer of startups such as Lyft and Kickstarter. It will back early stage companies focused on STEM education, health, wellness and nutrition, family development and social and emotional development. The partners are hoping Sesame Street’s reputation draws entrepreneurs: entrepreneurs will have the option to use the show’s characters in their marketing.
Alternative fish feed startup attracts big-name investors. Calysta Inc., a California biotech company that produces a fishmeal substitute made from naturally-occurring microbes, raised $30 million in Series C funding. The round included Cargill, the agribusiness giant, which is making a major push into aquaculture, as well as the Municipal Employee Retirement System of Michigan. Cargill will help Calysta manufacture and market its FeedKind protein products. Also participating were existing investors Walden Riverwood Ventures, Pangaea Ventures and Aqua-Spark, the Dutch-based aquaculture fund. Aqua-Spark also announced a $2.75 million investment in Sogn Aqua, a Norwegian farmer of Atlantic halibut — which are to be fed Calysta’s FeedKind.
Sanergy lands $1.7 million to expand its waste-to-fertilizer operations in Kenya. Sanergy, makes “Fresh Life Toilets,” sells them to local entrepreneurs, and processes the waste into fertilizer. The new financing will let the startup increase the production of fertilizer, which is expensive on the local market. Sanergy has sold more than 600 toilets. The latest financing was led by Novastar Venture, a Kenyan venture capital firm, and included Acumen and Eleos Foundation.
Canadian green bond targets retail investors. CoPower has launched a green bond backed by two clean energy projects in CoPower’s small clean energy loan portfolio. CoPower, a Montreal-based B Corporation that was launched in 2013, is trying to make impact investing broadly accessible. CoPower Green Bond I, offered on the company’s online platform, has a minimum investment of C$5,000 (US$3,600) and offers annual yields of five percent. The bond is backed by an energy efficiency project in Toronto and two rooftop solar installations in other parts of Ontario.
Global Innovation Fund makes eight investments. The London-based non-profit fund invested £3 million ($4.3 million) across eight organizations. Investments included a £525,000 equity investment in Segovia, a software technology platform for aid funding and a £160,000 convertible loan to SafeBoda, a start-up aiming to reduce motorcycle taxi accidents in Uganda. The Global Innovation Fund is backed by $200 million from investors including the U.K. Department of International Development, USAID, Omidyar Network, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
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Photo credit: Sesame Workshop