The Brief | June 4, 2019

Science + impact, coral reef economy, Canada’s Equality Fund, families’ ‘dry powder’ for impact

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

Science + impact in GenevaImpactAlpha is going to Switzerland. Scientists and physicists will mix it up with impact financiers and development experts at a special Agents of Impact event alongside Sharing Knowledge’s “Science for Social Impact” conference at CERN, this Friday, June 7. RSVP today (only a few spots left!).

Featured: Impact Voices

New models for financing reef restoration in the Caribbean and beyond. The Bahamas vast coral reefs support the islands’ iconic grouper, snapper, sea turtle and spiny lobster stocks, which in turn sustain locals and draws tourists. Losing these magical ecosystems is an ecological and economic tragedy in the making. Already, as much as 80% of corals in the Caribbean have fallen victim to pollution, overfishing and coastal development; warming and acidifying oceans are taking a toll. Worldwide, half of all tropical coral is dead; 90% of the remaining coral is projected to die within three decades. Until recently, rebuilding these ecosystems was a long, grueling process that dimmed prospects for wide-scale resurrection.

In a guest post on ImpactAlphaGator Halpern of Coral Vita, a startup restoring damaged reefs, showcases emerging technologies and scalable models now giving reefs a chance. In time for World Reef Day (June 1) and World Ocean Day (June 8), Coral Vita launched a land-based commercial coral farm in Freeport, Grand Bahama that grows climate-resilient coral to restore dying reefs. The Gates Coral Lab, founded by the late coral scientist Ruth Gates, is pioneering techniques to farm coral that can withstand hotter temperatures. The Mote Marine Labdiscovered a way to dramatically speed the growth of slow-growing corals. The governments of Seychelles and Palau have devised innovative “blue economy” funding mechanisms. Insurance giant Swiss Re is running a pilot insurance program that incentivizes reef restoration after hurricanes. More private investment is needed, writes Halpern. “To save the region’s ecosystems and economy, we must bring lost reefs back from the dead.”

Keep reading “New models for financing reef restoration in the Caribbean and beyond,” by Coral Vita’s Gator Halpern.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Canada pledges $300 million to Equality Fund for women’s advancement. Roughly 2.8 billion women and girls live in countries that are failing or performing poorly on gender equality. Justin Trudeau’s government committed $300 million to fund women’s organizations and initiatives that promote gender equality abroad. The Equality Fund is a collaboration of 11 Canadian and international organizations including MATCH International, the Royal Bank of Canada and Calvert Impact Capital. The fund is looking to deploy $1 billion over 15 years to initiatives in developing countries countering violence against women and enhancing women’s economic security and leadership. The mix of grants and investments is intended to unlock new and sustainable funding streams.

  • Growing capital pool. “The whole point of the Equality Fund is to create a self-sustaining funding mechanism,” Maryan Monsef, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality, told The Global and Mail. “These dollars are going to grow.” Outside funders have chipped in an additional $100 million toward the $1 billion goal.
  • What we know.

Dealflow overflow.

  • Portland, Ore.-based Knock Software secured additional capital on top of the $2.6 million it raised in November to help cities integrate bike, scooter and electric vehicle services into transit planning.
  • Dutch venture capital firm Velocity backed impact crowdfunding site Lendahand with a €1 million ($1.1 million) investment.
  • Mumbai-based FreshVnF joins the growing number of Indian agtech startups that have raised funding ($2 million) to help small farmers connect directly to buyers for their products.
  • Impact investor Vox Capital backed Brazilian software company Celcoin. The company’s app helps microentrepreneurs provide and collect payments for cell phone charging, transport ticket sales and other services.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Wealthy families seek – and find – market-rate returns from ‘values-aligned’ investing. Values-aligned investment strategies – including impact investing – are delivering risk-adjusted market-rate returns, according to a survey by the Family Office Exchange, a network of 350 wealthy families. It was FOX’s first deep-dive survey on the families’ “values-aligned” investments. Significantly, the families surveyed indicated there may be more capital available for impact investments than investment opportunities. As market uncertainty looms, values-aligned families are looking to direct investments to boost returns. “Families are also less concerned with diversifying concentration risk and seek to make a deeper, personal connection with fewer recipients of capital,” according to report. “Families are allocating significant capital in meaningful ways when they find the right opportunities, and the market needs to prepare accordingly.”

  • Market-rate. The survey’s findings upend perceptions held among its members that values-aligned investments provide only concessionary – or below market – returns. “Over 80% of their investments have met or exceeded both their financial and social or environmental return targets,” FOX’s Paulina Cromwell told ImpactAlpha.
  • Dry powder. “There is an incredible amount of dry powder out there right now,” Cromwell said, as asset owners look for products that meet their risk, return and impact expectations.
  • Family capital. Of the 98 family offices that participated in FOX’s survey, 18% have more than $1 billion in investable assets, one in five have between $500 million and $1 billion, and almost half have under $250 million.

Keep reading, “Wealthy families seek – and find – market-rate returns from ‘values-aligned’ investing,” by Jean Haggerty on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Follow the talent. The new Impact Investing Institute aims to accelerate the UK impact investing market. The institute will be led by Sir Harvey McGrath and Elizabeth Corley… Pro Mujer’s Maria Cavalcanti and Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance are among Apolitical’s top 100 influencers in global gender-equality policy.

Seize the opportunityGlobal Partnerships seeks a portfolio director and a portfolio officer in Bogotá… Impala Energy is hiring a London-based ESG manager focused on clean and renewable power in sub-Saharan Africa… The Global Impact Investing Network is looking for a research director in New York… The Working World seeks a senior project officer and an associate project officer in New York… Wharton’s Social Impact Initiative and Bridges Impact Foundation are recruitinga program associate to manage the MIINT competition… Coastal Enterprises hiring a marketing manager.

Where to beMission Investors Exchange and Urban Institute host “Emerging Lessons on Place-Based Impact Investing Collaboration,” June 27 (see, “Getting smarter about place-based investing).

June 4, 2019.