Greetings ImpactAlpha Readers!
Featured: The Impact Alpha
The impact opportunity in the mispriced risk of lending to the underserved. Techies are used to making the impossible possible. Bankers, not so much. But I’ve been struck by a common theme in many of the deals ImpactAlpha has rounded up in our Dealflow column, and in conversations with financiers. Things that were impossible even a few years ago are now possible, and profitable.
That means that millions of small businesses and individuals in the US and around the world may finally get access to the kind of appropriate, affordable capital they need – to build a school, buy a rickshaw or motorcycle, light their homes, or start or grow a business. We’re familiar with the impact of the falling cost of technology, from mobile phones to solar panels. The falling cost of capital may have even greater impact. Keep reading The Impact Alpha.
– David Bank, editor and CEO
Featured Event: Total Impact Conference in Philadelphia, April 26-27
Gateway to the mainstream. Financial advisors are often viewed as the gateway to mainstreaming impact investing. Now they have their own conference on the subject. Philadelphia is the first stop for Total Impact, a new impact investing convening for financial advisors and other investors, from Good Capital Project. Join ImpactAlpha at Total Impact in Philadelphia on April 26 and 27. The event will feature tools and opportunities for advisors, families and investors. Register here for a $300 discount (use code TI_ImpactAlpha).
Signals: Ahead of the Curve
DanoneWave becomes world’s largest B Corp. Last year, Danone, the French food multinational, acquired US dairy company WhiteWave for $10 billion and combined the company with its own US dairy business under the name DanoneWave. DanoneWave, now Danone North America, has become one of the largest Public Benefit Corporations, the legal structure that allows companies to declare their intentions to pursue social objectives, not only shareholder value.
- Largest B Corp… By completing the impact assessment from B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps, and scoring higher than the minimum threshold, Danone North America has become the largest B Corp.
- Impact outperformance… A peek at Danone North America’s “B Impact Report” suggests the firm outperformed its peers in all categories (environment, workers, community, governance).
- Eight Danone subsidiaries… have been B Corp Certified so far in the US, Argentina, France, Indonesia, Spain and the UK.
- Danone, the parent company… aims to achieve the certification, according to a statement, and has been working with B Lab since 2015 to define a B Corp model that works for public companies.
- Dig deeper… Read B the Change’s new Danone profile…”The World’s Largest B Corp on the Future of Business.”
Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
Lila Ibrahim, who helped Coursera grow to 300 employees, has joinedDeepmind, Google’s artificial intelligence research company exploring applications of AI for social good, as Chief Operating Officer… Work Capital, a female-led impact-investment asset manager, has been tapped to manage and distribute separately managed accounts for Heron Foundation’s US Community Investing Index… Leapfrog Investments, the frontier market private equity firm, reports its portfolio of healthcare and financial services companies now reaches 126.2 million people (106.3 million have an income of less than $10 a day). Leapfrog achieved seven full or partial exits and the revenues of its portfolio companies grew on average 40.1% last year… LAVAN, the Jewish impact investing network, is hosting the webcast, “The Future of Impact Investing for Healthcare,” Monday, April 16th from 12 – 1pm ET.
Impact Voices: From the Community
Amber Larsen, Intermountain Impact Investments: How community foundations can unlock the possibilities of place-based impact investing. Local community foundations are expanding their financial toolkit beyond grants to solve complex problems in the place they call home.
- Flurry of activity… In March, the Coastal Community Foundation earmarked $3 million for impact investments in Charleston, South Carolina. This week, the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta popped up the $10 million GoATL fund and the Lancaster County Community Foundation in Pennsylvania made its first, $500,000 impact investment. See other recent activity… in Oregon, Michigan, Virginia, Minnesota.
- Local investing opportunities… There are more than 750 community foundations across the US and each year, they’re growing more committed to mission-aligned investing. “As more and more foundations provide leadership around community and economic development challenges, the opportunity for local investing grows,” says Amber Larsen, executive director of Intermountain Impact Investments in Walla Walla, Washington.
- Key insight… To mitigate risks, the foundation has teamed with a regional community development finance institution to manage some of the loans.
Read, “How community foundations can unlock the possibilities of place-based impact investing,” by Amber Larsen on ImpactAlpha.
Dealflow: Follow the Money
A recap of this morning’s deals…
BBOXX adds crowdfunding to its financing toolkit. The solar firm wants to raise $100 million to help it deliver electricity to 20 million people by 2020. It hopes a small part of that will come from retail investors on a variety of crowdfunding platforms. Read more.
TED’s Audacious Project names five projects to split $250 million in grants. The successor to the TED Prize has raised $250 million for what it calls “a new model for philanthropic collaboration.” See which projects were selected.
“Sapphire” fund invests $7.5 million in Southern Bancorp. The SFRE Fund (for Sustainability, Finance, Real Economies) made the equity investment in Southern Bancorp, a community development investment bank that works in Arkansas and Mississippi. Learn more.
Indian fintech Kaleidofin raises $2.8 million for services to unbanked. The firm uses algorithms to tailor financial services to the needs of India’s hundreds of millions of unbanked. Read on.