Call No. 25 recap: Gender smart investing for a sustainable recovery. The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women is exposing an opportunity for more investors to embrace a gender lens. Of the tens of thousands of private investment funds worldwide, less than 200 strategically center women in their investment decision-making. “COVID-19 is allowing us to pursue value creation strategies such as ‘gender smart’ investing,” International Finance Corp.’s Stephanie Von Friedeburg said on ImpactAlpha’s Call No. 25 last week. “There has never been a more opportune time.” Hundreds of Agents of Impact ‘zoomed’ into The Call, where Von Friedeburg and more than a dozen guests offered up examples of how to center women across organizational structures, investment decision-making and portfolio management.
Dealflow: Follow the Money
ZenBusiness raises $55 million to help micro-entrepreneurs grow their businesses. The economic shock of the COVID pandemic has devastated small businesses – and driven many others to open one for the first time. Austin-based online platform ZenBusiness helps businesses with fewer than 10 people launch and scale. The company says it has doubled customer acquisition since the onset of the pandemic; roughly nine in 10 of the company’s 80,000 clients are first-time entrepreneurs. Recovery from the economic shocks of COVID-19, is “going to come down to small business formation and growth,” said Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital, a ZenBusiness investor.
Impact Voices: Pass the Mic
Why impact investors should double down on democracy funding. The historic voter turnout witnessed in this year’s U.S. presidential election was fueled by organizations that helped activate historically under-represented communities, effective state-based organizing, and a surge of innovation applied to the infrastructure of democracy and movement building. Also key: rapid, risk-tolerant funding to support those efforts, says Sarah Williams of Propel Capital. “To create lasting change, impact investors should think of political funding as a key component of a diversified portfolio of investing,” she writes in a guest post on ImpactAlpha.
Signals: Ahead of the Curve
Short takes. Here are a few of the reports crossing our desks this week:
Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
Spring Lane Capital and Energy and Environment Investment join the Impact Capital Managers network… The Katapult Accelerator is hiring a senior investment professional in Oslo… Octopus is seeking a fund product manager in London (see, “Impact signals for venture capitalists”).
“It’s a great time for new entrants, but for those of us who’ve been doing this for a while it is equally urgent to raise our game right and to not get complacent,” said Margot Brandenburg of the Ford Foundation.
Host Monique Aiken recaps this week’s Agents of Impact Call on gender-smart investing and we go to South Africa to follow up with Secha Capital’s Kuhle Mnisi and Wukina’s Maureen Sibanda, this week’s Agents of Impact.