The Brief | November 19, 2018

Seeking gender alpha, raising the impact-management bar, inclusive fintech in Uruguay, direct public offering on SVX.US

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Seeking gender alpha. If you’re feeling a bit of FOMO around gender-lens investing, ImpactAlpha can help you catch up. The gender tidal wave transforming global finance is still in its early stages. The early-mover advantage is still available for capital that shifts the playing field toward that future of gender equality and justice. Gender lenses can help you find impact alpha that is not yet priced into the market – “gender alpha,” if you will.

But say you haven’t been paying close attention to the shift and are not part of the huge lift by early gender lens advocates that has established markers and metrics and methods for talking about gender. Where are you going to find some of that gender alpha? “Pay attention to where women are core to the business model, or core players in the value chain,” says Catalyst at Large Suzanne Biegel, co-producer of this month’s Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London, “That’s where we’re going to spot a market opportunity or a talent opportunity.”

Read, “The Gender Alpha: Handy background for Agents of Impact Call No. 5,” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha.

  • Join ImpactAlpha’s Agents of Impact Call No. 5 to start to get gender-smart about the new funds, investment products and initiatives that are driving impact alpha with gender-lens investing. Catalyst at Large Suzanne Biegel will join ImpactAlpha’s David Bank and a roster of special guests on Tuesday, Nov. 20th at 9:00 am PT / 12:00 pm ET / 5:00 pm GMT. RSVP for The Call.

ImpactAlpha Series: Measure Better

Raising the bar for impact management practice, with stakeholders at the center. Clara Barby leads an initiative that has achieved something few in the impact measurement space thought possible: consensus. Barby, a partner at Bridges Fund Management, is CEO of the Impact Management Project, which is working with some 2,000 practitioners to build shared norms for impact measurement and management. ImpactAlpha caught up with Barby to wrap up ImpactAlpha’s and Acumen’s Measure Better Series.

  • Areas of agreement. Already “the IMP” has consensus that “all enterprises have positive and negative impacts on people and the planet, that managing impact means figuring out which of those impacts matter and then trying to prevent the negative and increase the positive,” Barby told Impactalpha.
  • Impact management’s big tent. Impact investing pioneers like Root Capital, Vox Capital and Nesta have come together with big legacy financial institutions. PGGM, BlackRock, AXA, UBS, Hermes and Barclays and other mainstream firms are increasingly looking to measure and manage impact for their clients.
  • Stakeholder primacy. Barby is working with the Lean Data team at Acumen, where she was previously a portfolio manager, to put stakeholder feedback at the center of impact management. Says Barby, “A customer telling us that they think their quality of life has improved significantly from buying a product is pretty powerful.”

A few years ago, Barby says, “there was a real danger that we were competing on how good our impact frameworks and measurement approaches were, rather than how much impact we have. Now, the industry is working together to make measuring and reporting impact “a pre-competitive issue. It’s something we need to work on together.”

Read, “Raising the bar for impact management practice, with stakeholders at the center,” on ImpactAlpha. And take a spin through the rest of the Measure Better series.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

SVX.US debuts with ‘direct public offering’ from TechSoup. Toronto-based impact investing platform SVX is rolling out its matchmaking service in the U.S. with an $11.5 million debt offering from TechSoup. TechSoup, a 31-year-old nonprofit marketplace, helps organizations secure hardware and software “to design and implement technology solutions for a more equitable planet.” The California-based organization is using SVX.US for a “direct public offering” that seeks to raise $11.5 million in debt. Investors on the platform can make commitments of as little as $50. Learn more.

National Grid Partners invests $19.5 million in five energy startups. The U.S.- and U.K.-based energy utility National Grid has backed clean and smart energy companies AutoGrid, ClimaCell, Leap, Omnidian and Sitetracker. It made the investments via a new Silicon Valley-based venture arm, National Grid Partners, which plans to invest $250 million over the next two to three years. “We want to disrupt ourselves before we are disrupted,” said Lisa Lambert, who heads the venture group. Read on.

Elevar, Rise Fund back Uruguayan fintech firm Bankingly. Software from Montevideo-based Bankingly helps financial institutions expand digital channels for low-income and underserved customers. Small banks, cooperatives, and microfinance institutions often lack resources to invest in new technologies. Elevar Equity and TPG Growth’s Rise Fund, which have a co-investing partnership, backed Bankingly’s $5.25 million Series A round. Endeavor Catalyst also participated. Dive in.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Impact Capital Managers seeks an executive director (see, “Managers of over $5 billion aim for high-impact, high-returns investing”)… The U.K.’s CDC Group is hiring an investment executive for consumer businesses… The city of Philadelphia is looking for an Opportunity Zone consultant… Big Society Capital is recruiting fellows keen on social innovation in homes… Duke University’s Cathy Clark and Catalyst at Large Suzanne Biegel are teaching “Getting Gender-Smart” in March. Register now.

November 19, 2018.