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#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Mirova formally launches $300 million Land Degradation Neutrality Fund. The UN-affiliated fund will invest in sustainable agriculture and forestry, as well as green infrastructure and ecotourism. It is one of the first private funds aimed at land-degradation neutrality, a target of Sustainable Development Goal №15 (Life on land). The European Investment Bank, France’s AFD and the government of Norway are backing the fund, as is the Rockefeller Foundation. Luxembourg committed €5 million. Mirova is an $8 billion unit of Natixis Global Asset Management, which has nearly $900 billion under management. In July, Mirova agreed to acquire Althelia Ecosphere, which has put together deals that combine carbon credits and sustainable commodities such as rubber in Indonesia, cocoa in the Ivory Coast and cattle in Brazil. SDG №15 ranked low in a survey of impact investors’ interest in the SDGs. Mirova’s CEO, Philippe Zaouati, said “rehabilitating degraded land, protecting vital ecosystems and empowering sustainable business around the world…can be achieved along with competitive market-level returns.” Here’s the fund’s brochure.
Accelerator Group announces fund for women entrepreneurs in India. The investment firm, with offices in Michigan, Florida and India, launched the $25 million fund in conjunction with the “All India Roadshow on Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship.” The U.S. State Department-backed initiative is aimed at fostering women’s entrepreneurship in smaller Indian cities. “Women are incredible problem solvers,” Accelerator Group’s Seema Chaturvedi told the Economic Times. “I, as an investor, am less concerned about whether the business is in the field of cutting-edge technology, but more interested in the impact they can create and the problem they are seeking to solve, and if they are scalable and sustainable.” The fund aims to raise its first $10 million by March.
ImpactUs marketplace expands impact investment offerings. The platformhas added four new issuers to connect institutions and individuals with impact investing opportunities. The new issuers include Coastal Enterprises, a Maine-based organization that focuses on rural business development in the U.S.; Enterprise Community Investment, part of the supportive housing group Enterprise Community Partners; Iroquois Valley Farms REIT, a listing from the equity investor in organic farmland; and MicroVest Capital Management, an investor in global microfinance and small-banking institutions. The additions brings the total number of issuers on the platform to seven, including a previous listing for Iroquois Valley Farms’ soil-regeneration bonds. ImpactUS, which launched in April, is among a growing group of impact investing “matchmakers.”
See all of ImpactAlpha’s recent #dealflow.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
Could a tax credit turbocharge carbon-tech? The proposed increase in tax credits for carbon capture and storage, introduced Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives, may well be intended to revive the notion of “clean coal.” But it also could turbocharge breakthrough technologies for sucking carbon out of the air. The NRG Cosia Carbon XPRIZE has been driving innovation in carbon-capture by dangling $20 million in prizes for technologies to convert carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and factories into everyday products like building materials and alternative fuels. The goal is to make carbon capture pay for itself, turning emissions-reduction from a cost to an asset, and actually reduce emissions overall as quickly as possible,” the XPRIZE’s Marcius Extavour told ImpactAlpha. “The ultimate goal is for carbon conversion to play a part in a completely transformed industrial economy, around the world.” The 47 entrants have been winnowed to about two dozen that are working feverishly to hit the next stage. Among the semi-finalists: Hayward, Calif.-based Kiverdi, which is converting CO2 into high-protein meal and oils with properties similar to plant-based oil. CarbonCure, Dartmouth, Canada, is recycling carbon dioxide to make stronger concrete. Breathe, a team in Bangalore, India, is developing technology to convert CO2 to usable methanol for shampoos, plastics and other products. Next year, 10 finalists will be challenged to replicate their demonstration projects — at 10 times the scale.
Closing the “missing middle” finance gap in Central America and the Caribbean. Entrepreneurs in the region’s 20 countries struggle to access funds to start and grow businesses. Three years ago, local leaders, investors and entrepreneurs organized a spinoff of the Latin America Impact Investing Forum. Impact initiatives in the region have begun to flourish. Guatemala-based Pomona Impact is building an agriculture-startup ecosystem. Banco de America Central Nicaragua is at the center of an experiment to get capital in the hands of women entrepreneurs who lack collateral to secure loans. Kingo, based in Guatemala City, is raising significant sums of cash to expand off-grid solar energy products. The forum will convene November 8–9 in Antigua, Guatemala for the third time. ImpactAlpha is again proud to be a media sponsor of FLII Central America and the Caribbean. Register now with code IMPACTALPHA_NETWORK_50 to receive a 50% discount.
How new financial models can boost capital flows to small biz. While we’re on the topic of small business finance in Latin America…Transform Finance released Innovations in Financing Structures for Impact Enterprises: Spotlight on Latin America. The report features 16 case studies of new financing models, including revenue-based loans, redeemable equity and holding companies. The report was backed by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation. We previewed the reporthere. Download it for yourself.
Boosting energy access through energy efficiency. In Stockholm, which has both long, cold winters and high gas prices, the recycled body heatgenerated by 250,000 daily commuters in the city’s central train station not only warms the station itself, but channels energy to power an office block 90 meters away. The recycled body heat saves that office block around 20% of its heating costs each year and easily covers the cost of installation and maintenance of the system.
A new “Signals 2017” report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) tackles the future of energy. This is in keeping with the the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal №7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030. Critical to the goal is improved efficiency, a “powerful but often overlooked driver of energy access,” says Tim Farrell, senior advisor at the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency. “Off-grid energy supply coupled with efficient appliances can help deliver sufficient amounts of affordable and clean energy while also contributing to sustainable development.”
The EEA report explores ways to make energy use more efficient and minimize energy loss, including “better insulated buildings, smart grids, energy efficiency standards and labels, and, most of all, smart behaviour by energy users.” Energy efficiency, it says, is a “vital component of Europe’s long-term sustainability goals.”
Onward! Please send any news and comments to TheBrief@impactalpha.com.