Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!
#Featured: ImpactAlpha Original
Philadelphia rings the bell on a 21st-century revival. Almost 250 years ago, Philadelphia incubated a world-changing startup: the United States of America. The rest is, well…history.
Now, Philadelphia is incubating a locally-driven, 21st-century revival that could become a model for other post-industrial U.S. cities.
In 2018, ImpactAlpha is going all in on places where city and community innovators, entrepreneurs and investors, are building local impact investing and entrepreneurial ecosystems. These new revivalists are boosting livelihoods, reinvigorating communities, reversing inequality and changing the narrative around economic growth and shared prosperity.
Philly is a good place to start. The city finds itself rising on national lists for startup and tech activity, social innovation, STEM careers and food culture. “With small wins and intentional progress, there’s a new tone in Philadelphia,” Megan McFadden, a Philadelphia-region native and social impact strategist, writes on ImpactAlpha.
Take a spin through “Philadelphia rings the bell on a 21st-century revival,” by Megan McFadden on ImpactAlpha.
What’s working in your city or region? We’re aiming to boost city-to-city learning and turn local success stories into a broad movement. Share your local lessons in a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don’t miss the first Total Impact conference in Philadelphia, April 26–27. The Good Capital Project, along with ImpactPHL and ImpactAlpha, will showcase impact investing tools, insights and portfolios for investment advisors, families and investors. Register here.
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Jana wants to add ‘impact’ to activist hedge fund. The $8.5 billion hedge fund is looking to raise billions of dollars to target companies that are doing well and could also be doing good, reports The Wall Street Journal. To make the point, Jana is working with the giant California State Teachers’ Retirement System to pressure Apple to take action on “iPhone addiction” among the young. The move isn’t the first of its kind: Shareholder activism made headlines in the impact community last year after State Street said it would vote against gender imbalance on company boards, and investors backed climate-risk resolutions for oil companies ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum. Jana has recruited singer Sting as the fund’s celebrity face. Of course, impact happens only if the shareholder pressure succeeds.
Alphabet spinoff raises $20.8 million to improve healthcare access. Cityblock, formerly part of Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, plans to partner with community health organizations to deliver primary care, behavioral health and social services to Medicaid and low-income Medicare recipients. Cityblock will open local clinics, called Neighborhood Health Hubs, where caregivers, Cityblock members and community organizations will work together to address health challenges at the local level. The work at the clinics will be supported and enhanced by Cityblock’s collaboration technology, which founder Iyah Romm says will help care teams understand communities and provide appropriate care. Launch is scheduled for this year in New York. Series A funding came from Maverick Ventures, Thrive Capital and Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet’s urban-innovation lab.
Britain’s CDC pledges $100 million to Ayana for clean energy in India. CDC, the U.K. government’s development-finance institution, will deploy the financing through Ayana Renewable Power, which it formed to build wind and solar installations in India’s most polluted urban areas. Dangerous levels of air pollution plague several Indian cities; officials have described Delhi as a “gas chamber.” To clean the air and extend electricity to off-grid areas, India has atarget to create 175 gigawatts of (non-hydro) renewable-power capacity by 2022 from 60 gigawatts today. Ayana will also invest in projects in Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
How Aligned Intermediary makes climate deals work for institutional investors. A new type of financial advisory firm is packaging clean-energy deals to make them attractive and big enough to grab hundred-million dollar checks from pension and sovereign wealth funds. The awkwardly titled Aligned Intermediary (AI), led by Peter Davidson, former head of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, has landed at least nine big clients that have collectively committed to deploy more than $1.4 billion toward climate solutions. Clients are already moving money, according to a Forbes post from Bob Eccles. In late December 2016, an unidentified client made a $50 million investment in a western U.S. water infrastructure project, Eccles said in his post. And, six months later the University of California Regents, also an AI client, put $100 million into Pattern Energy, a North American renewable projects developer. Climate deals are often too risky, too small, or too opaque for the institutional giants. AI surfaces and seeds climate and clean-energy projects, maps markets and coordinates capital among investors with varying risk-return-impact appetites to make deals work for its large clients. The firm also helps investors track impact and benchmark their climate investments. AI co-founder Ashby Monk of Stanford told ImpactAlpha in an email that such intermediaries could provide a model for unlocking funds for other system-wide challenges including resource scarcity, inequality and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “The idea of an Aligned Intermediary being applied in other domains is totally possible,” Monk said. In fact, he and Stanford’s Rajiv Sharma wrote a book on it (see Reframing Finance).
Harnessing tourism for the Global Goals. Tourism accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP and jobs. The industry’s continued existence depends on safeguarding the world’s natural and cultural assets, which are threatened by the swelling ranks of world travelers. The number of jetsetters, currently at 1.2 billion, is expected to grow by 56% to 1.8 billion by 2030. To address potential threats from tourism’s rapid growth, the U.N. World Tourism Organization is calling on the industry to play a bigger role in achieving the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda.
In a survey of national progress towards meeting the Global Goals, the UNWTO found tourism-related efforts generally focused on three goals: №8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, №12: Responsible Consumption and Production, and №17: Partnerships for the Goals. But less attention was given to issues that impact tourism the most, such as climate change, the loss of biodiversity, natural disasters, regional and international security and global economic instability. The key is to get the tourism industry to address sustainability issues more directly by focusing on SDGs that affect its business operations, such as №11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and, for coastal tourism centers, №14: Life Below Water.
“There is little awareness of the economic benefits of sustainability,” the UNWTO’s report states. “Investment in sustainable business operations can also significantly boost competitiveness and profitability, while increasing customer and host community satisfaction.”
Onward! Please send news and comments to TheBrief@impactalpha.com