Features | June 13, 2018

Neighborly’s muni-bond impact, JUST exchange-traded fund, immigrant auto insurance, India’s civic tech startups

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: New Revivalists

Putting the power of public finance back into the hands of civic visionaries. Municipal bonds are literally private investments in public goods, making them perhaps the original impact investment. About $435 billion in U.S. municipal bonds were sold last year, much of it to finance impactful projects like parks and schools, roads and bridges, clean energy installations and municipal broadband. Yet somehow, “This is just not that sexy,” says Jase Wilson, co-founder of Neighborly, a muni-bond investment platform to connect investors and issuers.

Neighborly is seeking to revitalize the centralized, opaque and fee-laden muni market, which often puts distance between investors and the projects they finance. Wilson raised $25 million last year to reconnect people with the places they care about, including on a, yes, blockchain-enabled platform. Neighborly counts among its investors Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, 8VC and Stanford University. Says Wilson: “We need to get back to the era when the financing mechanism was the way to rally troops around bringing new things to life.”

Read, “Putting the power of public finance back into the hands of civic visionaries,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Featured Event: One World’s Corporate Social Impact Summit l June 14 l Redwood City

Innovations in corporate social impact. How to be a change agent in the corporate world? How to leverage top talent to drive impact? Impact gurus from Atlassian, Equinix, Gap, JPMorgan Chase, Lyft, Pearson, Revolution Foods, Salesforce and others are gathering at One World’s Corporate Social Impact Summit for professionals at Bay Area companies, Thursday, June 14 at Equinix in Redwood City. There’s still time to register.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

New Goldman Sachs fund to track “JUST” businesses. Companies in JUST Capital’s index, on average, “pay better, create more jobs, pay fewer fines, give twice as much to charity, emit less greenhouse gas, and have higher return on equity, compared with the rest of the Russell 1000,” according to the company. Intel, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Microsoft and IBM were last year’s ‘most just’ companies.  Read more.

BlueVine raises $60 million to grow small business lending. It offers loans for working capital and short-term cashflow needs between invoicing and payment. Learn more.

Marshmallow raises $1.2 million to help U.K. immigrants land fair insurance. The startup plans to offer car insurance to foreign-born drivers. Read on.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Civic tech startups in India seek to reprogram government. The scale of India’s 21st century cities and towns presents a coding challenge of the first order. From sanitation to revenue management to property rights in informal settlements, says Omidyar Network’s Roopa Kudva, “the size of the opportunity makes it financially very attractive.” Applications are open for the six-month Civic Tech: India 2018 accelerator, hosted by Omidyar Network and Village Capital, which is looking for ventures using physical community-building as well as tech. “We have India’s best minds going into startups today,” says Kudva.

Keep reading “Civic tech startups in India seek to reprogram government,” by Lou del Bello on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Social-impact accelerator Echoing Green introduced nearly three dozen 2018 Fellows, including Brittany Young, founder of B-360, which uses dirt bike culture to engage black men and boys… FSG named Lauren Smith and Greg Hills as the firm’s new co-CEOs… Christie Zarkovich is the new head of mission-related investing research at Cambridge Associates… ImpactAssets is on the hunt for a president/chief operating officer in the Bay Area or Washington DC (ok, NYC is also a possibility).

June 13, 2018.