Featured: Overheard at Mission Investors Exchange

Upstart Co-Lab’s pipeline of creative economy deals is now an investable impact strategy. The “creative economy” of fashion, food, film, video games and other art and culture industries has emerged as a powerful driver of quality jobs, social and economic inclusion, and vibrant communities. Now it’s also an impact investment thesis. The New York-based nonprofit Upstart Co-Lab has stood up the Inclusive Creative Economy Strategy as a pooled investment vehicle. The fund will back fund managers and entrepreneurs of color in creative enterprises that build livelihoods and inclusive communities. “We believe that the creative economy can be the door to welcome artists, art lovers and cultural institutions into a bigger conversation about impact investing,” says Laura Callanan, the former top official of the National Endowment for the Arts who launched Upstart in 2016.

Dealflow: Place-based Investing

LISC teams with Colorado Health Foundation to back diverse-owned businesses. The Local Initiatives Support Corp. has launched the Colorado BIPOC Micro Equity Fund. The $2 million pilot fund provides “equity-like” capital to small business owners of color in disadvantaged Colorado communities “that are poised to grow but haven’t had access to the capital they need,” explains LISC’s George Ashton. The fund, which is back-stopped by the Colorado Health Foundation, will invest between $50,000 to $250,000. After a year, owners repay a share of revenue if they’ve hit agreed-upon revenue targets. “If a business is unable to hit its growth metrics, philanthropy steps in and assumes the obligation on behalf of the business,” said the Colorado Health Foundation’s Ben Bynum

Signals: Circular Economy

Circulate Capital eyes opportunities to tackle plastic waste in Latin America. Singapore-based investment fund Circulate Capital, which has backed projects in South and Southeast Asia, now sees an opportunity to reduce plastic wastes in Latin America. The $175 million fund was launched in 2018 with investment from some of the world’s biggest plastics producers and users including PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow and Mondelēz, A new studybreaks down the “circular economy” opportunities in Latin American and the Caribbean. Many countries in the region already have policies to eliminate waste by reusing, repurposing or recycling materials. Implementation has been limited, creating a window for the private sector to help tackle plastics pollution in the region, the study says.  

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Banks Benitez, ex-of Uncharted, joins Ezra Climate as head of venture development (for background, see “Common Future and Uncharted merge to expand entrepreneurship and wealth-building in underserved communities”)... Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board appointsAnna Murray, ex- of Sun Life Capital Management, senior managing director and global head of sustainable investing… David LeZaks of the Croatan Institute joins Planetary Health Collective’s board.

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