Next Year in impact investing: Betting on the future

The team at

ImpactAlpha

🗣 All in. It’s not hyperbole to say everything is at stake next year. There have been enough jeremiads about the dangers to democracy and the rule of law (and not only in the US) that we need not recount them here. ImpactAlpha tagged this week’s series of look-aheads, “At Stake in 2024” to emphasize that also at stake is the fragile progress this country has made in empowering workers (and raising real income from the bottom up) and reducing racial wealth gaps, as Roodgally Senatus and I report in Expanded ownership and access to capital to build wealth and bridge divides.”

At stake in emerging markets is the generational opportunity to turn the just transition into inclusive prosperity, as Jessica Pothering suggests inFrom financial inclusion to women to health, investing in emerging markets requires a climate lens.” And at stake for the climate is the exponential growth of renewable energy, which looks to raise national ambitions and drive global investment strategies. “The table is set for action,” declares Amy Cortese in Playing climate offense to scale up and phase out.”

ImpactAlpha tries to strike a purposely optimistic tone. We understand, of course, that chances may not be so good that the world will, say, successfully manage the low-carbon transition. But they’re not zero, either. Solutions are proven, models are ready to scale, capital is plentiful, and the risks of inaction are clear. Positive social and environmental impact has moved from the margins to the center of global financial markets.

“This year’s coordinated attacks on ESG and ‘woke capitalism’ inadvertently made the search for alpha in impact a respectable investment strategy,” Dennis Price and Amy write in Impact as a driver of alpha in public and private markets.” By now, most asset owners and managers have at least hedged their portfolios, shifting small allocations to low-carbon funds or managers promising alignment with one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals. The time has come to go all in on the future we want to see. If we pull it off, those bets will pay off big time. And if we don’t? Suffice to say, there’s a lot at stake.

– David Bank

The Week’s Call

Plugged In: Capitalizing and coaching the innovators building an inclusive economy (video). Diverse innovators building solutions for all customers in digital health, fintech and the future of work have been largely overlooked by venture capital. With capital, community and coaching, Lenore Champagne Beirne of New York-based Bright Ventures is finding such innovators and helping unlock the opportunities. Champagne Beirne helps founders think about “How do you succeed in a system that’s not built for you?” she told ImpactAlpha contributing editor Sherrell Dorsey on this week’s Plugged In call. “If you can locate the leaders who have a plan for leading in this complicated, highly fragmented and polarized market, and who can sell into these huge industries, that’s a winning strategy.” Champagne Beirne has backed more than a dozen ventures in the last year, including Mae, ShareWell and KeepWol.

  • Plugged In. ImpactAlpha launched Plugged In this year to support Dorsey in carrying on her work at The Plug, her pioneering publication about the Black tech economy. Earlier guests include VertueLab’s Aina Abiodun and Black Farmer Fund’s Olivia Watkins. Stay tuned in 2024 as Dorsey brings her unique perspective as a founder and journalist to conversations with innovators building a resilient and inclusive economy.

The Week’s Dealflow

Agrifood investing. Fast-food chain Chipotle backed Greenfield Robotics, a farm robotics manufacturer, and “clean fertilizer” company Nitricity… Chile’s Cascara Foods clinched $415,000 in an equity crowdfunding round to keep food out of waste streams and turn it into new products. 

Circular economy. Denmark’s Investment Fund for Developing Countries invested $35 million in Singapore-based Blue Planet to expand waste recycling operations in India… India’s Batx clinched $5 million to recycle lithium ferro-phosphate salts from used lithium-ion batteries for use in new batteries. 

Climate finance. Estonia-based Arbonics secured €5.5 million to plan and monitor reforestation projects in Europe and calculate their carbon credits… Tanzania’s NMB Bank raised 400 billion shillings in a green bond issuance. 

Education and skills. Achieve Partners raised a $167 million fund to help K-12 schools in the US adopt new technology to improve learning outcomes… TPG’s Rise Fund will acquire a majority stake in UK-based special education provider Outcomes First Group. 

Energy transition. Bain Capital is selling Tokyo-based wind farm developer Japan Wind Development to Japan’s Infroneer… KKR will acquire Scotland-based Smart Metering Systems, a data infrastructure provider for renewable energy systems… Germany’s Ecoworks clinched €40 million for its prefabricated building facades that improve energy efficiency… UK-based renewable energy supplier Octopus Energy Group raked in $800 million from investors… 

Quaise Energy raised $13 million for its wave drilling system to access geothermal energy deep in the ground… The European Investment Bank provided a €35 million loan to Sweden’s Exeger for solar cells that convert ambient light to electricity for consumer electronics… X-Energy Reactor Co., which makes small nuclear reactors, raised $235 million after calling off plans to go public.

Fund news. Canadian impact fund of funds Realize Capital Partners inked nine deals totaling $35.2 million… E4E Africa reached a $30 million first close for its second fund, which invests in African impact startups… GSMA launched an Innovation Fund to provide early support to tech startups addressing humanitarian issues.

Gender smart. Biorithm scored $3.5 million to deliver personalized, connected maternity care in Southeast Asia and the US… BII provided a $14.4 million loan to Sitara, which provides mortgage financing to enable women in India to buy their own homes… Women-founded Chefaa raised $5.3 million for its online pharmacy and health consultations in Egypt. 

New fuels. JetBlue, Tech Energy Ventures and Temasek’s Xora Innovation backed Aether Fuels, which produces low-carbon fuel for aviation and shipping… Switzerland’s Metafuels, which makes aviation fuel from green methanol, snagged $8 million.

Small businesses. Apis & Heritage Capital Partners transitioned the ownership of Oregon-based plant nursery Blooming Nursery to its roughly 100 Latino workers… BII led a $37.3 million equity round for Indian small business lender Aye Finance… Costa Rica’s Avify secured $800,000 to digitalize Latin America’s small businesses… India’s small business lender U Gro scored $30 million from Dutch development bank FMO.

The Week’s Talent

Jamie Beck Alexander stepped down as director of Drawdown Labs… Jessica Golden, ex- of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, joins Ownership Works as a senior director of business engagement… The Employee Ownership Expansion Network added Adria Scharf, of Rutger University’s Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, to its board.

LISC appointed Gustavo Quiroga, ex- of real estate advisory firm Graffito, as executive director of its Boston office… Sorenson Impact Institute named ImpactAlpha contributing editor Rob Brown a senior fellow… Roy Swan of the Ford Foundation and Michael Barry of Georgetown University joined the McKnight Foundation’s investment committee.

The Week’s Jobs

US East Coast

The Elevate Prize Foundation seeks a program manager, chief of staff and creative and communications strategist in Miami… World Wildlife Fund is on the hunt for a private sector engagement manager in Washington, DC… Also in DC, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is recruiting an industrial decarbonization director… The Rockefeller Foundation is recruiting a New York-based summer associate.

US West Coast

Latino Community Foundation is recruiting a California-based senior executive assistant… The California Endowment is looking for an impact investment associate in Fresno… Founders First Capital Partners is looking for an investment manager in San Diego… The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is looking for an impact investing senior manager in Santa Clara… The UC Berkeley Office of Sustainability is hiring a sustainability data and program manager.

Other US-based jobs

McKnight Foundation is looking for a senior program officer in Minneapolis… Regenerative Food Systems Investment seeks a relationship manager and sales lead… Blue Forest is hiring a senior communications manager… Trust Neighborhoods has an opening for a senior project manager and a finance directorS2G Ventures is hiring an investments counsel in Chicago.

Jobs in Europe

In London, The Impact Facility is on the hunt for a new CEO; the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association seeks a sustainability policy executive; New Philanthropy Capital is on the hunt for an impact investing senior consultant; and Palladium has an opening for a nature associate director… New Spring Network is hiring a sustainable finance consultant in Amsterdam… Also in the Netherlands, Triodos Bank is recruiting an investment portfolio officer and a fund accountant.

Inyova Impact Investing is looking for an Germany-based investment management intern… UN Global Compact Network seeks a project coordinator of ESG reporting and regulations for Switzerland and Liechtenstein… Investing for Good is looking for a pair of Europe-based senior advisors of innovative finance in Europe… World Green Building Council seeks a senior project manager. 

Other international locations

First Australians Capital is looking for a corporate operations director in Melbourne… Temasek has an opening for an impact investing associate in Singapore… Alterna Impact has an opening for a project coordinator in Guatemala City… Ubá Sustainability Institute is recruiting a blue carbon project officer in the Philippines.

💼Share the week’s impact jobs. View dozens of other jobs on our new job board. Want to post a listing? Submit it here.

That’s a wrap. Good health and great joy to all. 

– Dec 22, 2023