The Brief | March 27, 2019

Regenerative pine resin in Mexico, tech jobs in rural U.S., blockchain-based lending in India, ‘zebras’ unite for alt-capital

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Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Ejido Verde is financing indigenous Mexicans to plant trees – and to plant a stake in the middle class. Decade-old Ejido Verde is one part pine-resin supplier, one part mass-reforestation project and one part community lender (ejidos are Mexico’s century-old form of communal land ownership). The company is financing the replanting of thousands of hectares of pine trees to produce the resin used in shoe glue, tape, chewing gum and hundreds of other everyday products. The trees also should produce multi-generational wealth for Purhépecha families in the Mexican state of Michoacán, restore degraded landscapes and capture a whole lot of carbon. “The trees we plant today will create revenue and jobs for the next three generations,” Ejido Verde’s Shaun Paul told ImpactAlpha.

Ejido Verde is among a roster of “regenerative” projects showing promise as ways to finance environmental restoration, climate action and improved livelihoods for communities affected by economic and environmental injustices. Funds and funders pursuing regenerative strategies include Blackdirt Capital, which buys and develops undervalued agricultural land in low-income areas in the eastern U.S. Moringa Partnership, a $96 million private equity fund, backs large-scale agroforestry projects in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. GatherLabs rounded up 44 funds, fund managers, family offices and foundations targeting regenerative agriculture, ranching, forestry, and food systems. “We need to be working toward regeneration, not just maintaining the status quo,” says GatherLabs’ Kevin Jones, a co-founder of the annual Social Capital Markets conference.

Keep reading, “Ejido Verde is financing indigenous Mexicans to plant trees – and to plant a stake in the middle class,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

  • Go deeper: GatherLabs is hosting “Transform 2019: Climate, Communities, and Capital,” in San Francisco, May 22-24. ImpactAlpha subscribers get a 10% discount with the code NW_ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Bain Capital’s Double Impact fund acquires tech employer Rural Sourcing. The company’s mission is to create high-quality tech jobs in small U.S. cities and rural areas. “Where I grew up—in Mississippi—there were not a lot of new economy jobs,” Rural Sourcing’s Monty Hamilton told ImpactAlpha. The Atlanta-based company recruits skilled workers from local community colleges, universities, and coding bootcamps in places like Mobile, Ala. and Fort Wayne, Ind. Companies hire Rural Sourcing’s remote tech teams to provide IT services and software skills. “In some of the cities they’re in, they’ve become the anchor tech business,” said Bain Capital’s Iain Ware. Bain’s Double Impact fund acquired a majority stake in the company, which has grown to 500 workers in six hubs since 2004. It is Double Impact’s first community development-themed investment. The full story.

Unitus Ventures backs New Street Technologies’ blockchain-based lending. The cost of underwriting and servicing small loans is one of the most common reasons many commercial banks don’t lend to small businesses. Bangalore-based New Street Technologies retrofits banks’ information technology with a blockchain-based system the company says cuts costs from customer sourcing and documentation to disbursements and collections. Since 2017, $4.3 million in loans have been originated on New Street’s platform. A $2 million seed investment, led by Unitus Ventures, aims to scale lending to $145 million over three years. “It’s the first example we’ve seen of a company successfully deploying a private blockchain to facilitate microfinance transactions,” Unitus Ventures’ Will Poole told ImpactAlpha. Read more.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Follow the talent. Mark Newberg, ex- of Womble Bond Dickinson, launches Stockbridge Advisors as an impact and ESG consulting firm, and joins Beeck Center as a project fellow for Opportunity Zones… Anuj Shah joins London-based strategy firm KKS Advisors as managing director of US operations in Boston…

Seize the opportunity. New Island Capital is looking for a vice president for real assets in San Francisco… Educate Global is hiring an investment principal and investment director in Nairobi… CDC Group is hiring a manager of corporate strategy in London… GlobalGiving seeks a director of business partnerships in Washington D.C…. Morgan Stanley Global Sustainable Finance is looking for an associate in New York… AlphaMundi is recruiting an investment associate and investment analyst in Bogotá…

Where to be. Zebras United is hosting “Demystifying Access to Alternative Capital,” a free online event, Friday, March 29… Impact law network ESELA is convening its annual conference, “The Impact Revolution: The Role of Law and Lawyers,” at the London School of Economics on April 12.

March 27, 2019.