The Brief | June 19, 2018

Living in the materiality world, CapitalG backs Aye Finance, Asia impact investing takeaways, optimizing capitalism

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Featured: Returns on Investment podcast

The M-word: Investors bring ESG into the material world. Consideration of environmental, social and governance factors in investment decision-making has become accepted, if not required, practice for asset owners and managers worldwide, whether the Trump administration likes it or not. The reason: materiality. Risk-reduction was the biggest driver in a new Morgan Stanley survey of institutional asset owners that found that just under half have implemented ESG strategies across their entire portfolios.

In ImpactAlpha’s latest Returns on Investment podcast, our roundtable regulars take up the April memo from the Department of Labor that tried, albeit weakly, to walk back Obama-era guidance about how fiduciaries could consider ESG factors. As such factors become a core part of “fiduciary duty,” investors will be asking tougher questions about long-term risk. Four out of five of the respondents in the Morgan Stanley survey said they engage as shareholders around environmental, social and governance issues. “As that wise sage Madonna once said, ‘We are living in a material world,’” says podcast host Brian Walsh in teeing up the discussion (‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash // Is always Mister Right.’) And yes, he did really ask Imogen Rose-Smith, “So, are you a materiality girl?”

Read on and listen in to the latest Returns on Investment podcast, “The M-word: Investors bring ESG into the material world.” Binge-listen to all the Returns on Investment episodes on iTunes, SoundCloud or wherever you get your podcasts.

Big thanks to Wunder Capital, generous sponsor of the Returns on Investment podcast. During our podcast run, Wunder secured $112 million in equity and debt funding to expand its solar-finance platform (talk about ROI!). Wunder gives investors access to solar loan funds with a $1,000 minimum. Find out more at

Dealflow: Follow the Money

CapitalG backs Indian small business lender Aye Finance. The Gurgaon, India-based fintech firm’s “alternative risk assessment” expands working capital to India’s small business owners. More.

Gates Foundation and Horizons Ventures invest in Evolve’s infant probiotic. The California-based biotech is making a probiotic nutritional supplement for infants to fight child malnutrition. Dig in.

Jessie Ball duPont Fund makes $3 million affordable housing loan to LISC. The community development financial institution will build and rehabilitate low-income housing in Jacksonville, Fl. The 10-year program-related investment could catalyze an additional $31 million. The details.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Seven realities of Asia’s impact investing market. Investors in Asia hold trillions of dollars in assets that could be deployed for impact, if only…. At the recent Asia Venture Philanthropy Network in Singapore,’s Avary Kent heard from next-gen wealth holders that are gearing up to deploy capital in solutions from climate to education. But she found the marketplace still lacks critical infrastructure to be able to absorb high-impact capital at scale. More takeaways:

  • “A great sense of collaboration.” That’s how Visible Mission’s Durrie Hassan describes the spirit of next-generation wealth holders who are connecting through networks like Nexus and Global Shapers, as well as AVPN.
  • “Smart money” is a gap in the ecosystem. Investors in Silicon Valley have deep experience building businesses. “This expertise just isn’t there in countries like Indonesia,” says FHI360’s Phil Psilos.
  • Keep reading. Seven realities of Asia’s impact investing market,” by Avary Kent on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Judith Rodin, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, is the new board chair at peer-to-peer lender Prodigy Finance… Joy Basu stepped down as food and agriculture lead at TPG’s Rise Fund… CDC Group in London is hiring a private-equity executive focused on impact in emerging markets… The Candide Group in Oakland is seeking an investment director… Caprock Group’s Matthew Weatherly-White outlines six “suboceanic earthquakes” signaling the future of capitalism in a just-released Ted Talk. “The question is not, ‘Is capitalism good or evil?’” he says. “The question is, ‘To what end do we seek to optimize?’”

June 19, 2018.