The Brief | July 9, 2018

Sustainable Oceans Fund, female founders of color, healthcare in Kenya, augmented workers

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Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Sustainable Ocean Fund raises $37.5 million for ‘life under water.’ Financing ecosystem conservation deals is complicated enough. Financing such projects in coastal communities and marine environments is even more complex. There are no more than a handful of impact funds targeting ocean investments, and countries have made little or no progress toward meeting Sustainable Development Goal No. 14, “life under water.” That makes all the more significant the persistence of fund manager Althelia and its limited partners in reaching a $37.5 million first close for a planned $100 million Sustainable Ocean Fund. “Yes, it been a long road but excited to have well-needed investment $’s to deploy in the space,” Althelia’s Simon Dent told ImpactAlpha in an email exchange.

Helping the Luxembourg-based fund get to a first close required a greater-than-usual amount of patience and paperwork. “Ocean-based protein, distressed fisheries, reef restoration: every investor says, ‘Great,’” said Matthew Weatherley-White of Caprock Group. “Then you get to these complicated, innovative, new kinds of deals and a lot of people get cold feet.” Caprock brought a dozen investments totaling $8.5 million into the fund, which is anchored by the European Investment Bank and includes the global insurance company AXA and the Dutch development bank FMO, along with the Inter-American Development Bank and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Adds Weatherley-White: “We have to get these funds launched to prove out the thesis.”

Read, “Sustainable Oceans Fund raises $37.5 million for ‘life under water,’” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Gray Matters, Caspian sell stakes in Indian School Finance Company. The Delhi-based Indian School Finance Co. was one of the first dedicated lenders to low-cost private schools. Impact investment firm Gray Matters Capital, which began incubating the company in 2009, sold its 81.9% stake to Manappuram Finance. Read on.

Unilever, Sundial fund invests $30 million in female entrepreneurs of color. Eight startups have received seed funding from the New Voices Fund, the $100 million fund launched last November as part of Unilever’s acquisition of Sundial Brands. Half of the portfolio companies are cosmetics and body products ventures, including Harlem Capital-backed Beauty Bakerie and Mented. The founders are among the handful of black female entrepreneurs who have raised more than $1 million. Keep reading.

Villgro Kenya seeds Ugandan health startups MamaOpe and clinicPesa. MamaOpe makes a “smart jacket” to diagnose pneumonia in children. ClinicPesa helps patients cover the cost of health services with savings and loans. Villgro Kenya backed the two companies with funding, mentorship and development support. The Kenya offshoot of India-based incubator and investor Villgro is focused on health care. Check in.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

The augmented American worker. Between an aging population, low-rate of workforce participation and high rate of employment, employers in the U.S. are starting to hit a hiring wall: they’re struggling to find enough qualified workers to meet demand. Millions of jobs are unfilled and although many employers are investing more in workforce training and skills development, many large employers haven’t done enough to ensure they have the right skills to fill future jobs.

“We’ll need entrepreneurs to help lead the way in finding ways to prepare the workforce of the future,” says Allie Burns of Village Capital, which is gearing up for a new cohort of startups helping adults bridge the gap between jobs and skills. One solution: artificial intelligence and automation tools for improving—rather than replacing—human capacity and productivity. Diligent Robotics is building a robot that will free up nurses time to care for patients by handling time-consuming administrative tasks. ThinkCERCA is helping teachers better serve individual students. Keep reading.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

The Kresge and Rockefeller foundations are hosting a webinar tomorrow, July 10, to discuss their joint letter of inquiry for Opportunity Zone funding… Applications for the Social Enterprise Greenhouse health and wellness accelerator in Providence, Rhode Island are due August 1… Tech pub The Information is producing a five-part documentary on the future of journalism, as seen through the first cohort of their media accelerator this year. The trailer for “Pressed” includes interviews with ImpactAlpha’s David Bank and founders of publications from Italy, Taiwan, Detroit and Hollywood.

— July 9, 2018.