The Brief | June 6, 2018

Tallying impact assets, blockchain for social impact redux, Banco Solidario gives impact investors an exit

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“Conventional” investors – like Blackrock – boost impact investing’s annual tally. The arrival of “conventional” investors has long been anticipated as a marker that impact investing had gone “mainstream.” Now they’re here. The Global Impact Investing Network found $228 billion in impact assets among 229 investors in this year’s investor survey, compared to $114 billion from 209 respondents last year. A big chunk of the increase looks to come from what the GIIN calls “conventional” investors, who reported $88 billion in impact assets. Among the investors who responded this year: JPMorgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, the California Endowment, TPG’s Rise Fund and, for the first time, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $6.3 trillion under management.

Intriguingly, assets of just two unnamed survey respondents account for 38%, or $87 billion, of the GIIN’s new tally. It’s a good bet that BlackRock is one of them. CEO Larry Fink, in his annual letter earlier this year, put companies across its funds on notice that they needed to find their “social purpose,” and fast. BlackRock brought on a dedicated team in 2015 to manage what was then a $225 billion portfolio of “sustainable” investments. But only about $11 billion of that was in ESG funds (for environmental, social and governance factors), green bonds and low-carbon indices, with only a small amount invested in what BlackRock calls “impact targets.” It’s not clear what assets BlackRock or the GIIN are now counting toward the tally.

Read, ““Conventional” investors – like Blackrock – boost impact investing’s annual asset tally,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Help us sort out who’s who and what’s what on The Call, ImpactAlpha’s first subscriber-only conference call, Thursday at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT / 5 pm GMT. Register now.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Àrgentil backs low-cost housing developer Tempohousing Nigeria. The company specializes in repurposing shipping containers into low-cost housing. Learn more.

FinCompare raises €10M to help small businesses find loans. The Berlin-based startup operates an online platform that helps small businesses in Germany find and obtain loans. Read more.

Banco Solidario buys out stakes from Oikocredit, MicroVest and Triodos. The Ecuadoran bank paid an undisclosed amount to buy out three of its long-term impact investors. Get the details.

Click here for more ImpactAlpha dealflow. Send deal tips and news to [email protected].

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

High potential, remaining obstacles in blockchain for social impact. ConsenSys, the Brooklyn startup behind the Ethereum blockchain platform, chilled some of the enthusiasm around blockchain-for-good in April when it said it was scaling back the social-impact focus of its $50 million in-house venture fund. This week, along with PeaceTech Lab, ConsenSys convened the faithful to explore blockchain applications for the delivery of refugee aid, supply-chain transparency, media credential verification and, yes, impact reporting. (Here’s the video stream.) Overheard at Blockchain for Social Impact:

Combating fake news. Blockchain-based sustainable journalism marketplaceCivil is working on a verifiable digital “watermark” to help news consumers identify real versus fake news outlets and stories.
Human-centered aid. “Don’t push the technology to them. It’s an old way of doing things,” Josephine Goube of Techfugees suggested. Goube hosted a hackathon at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan and watched the kids crack the wifi password every week. “I bet you’d get kids who are smart enough to build a ledger and build something that will solve their own problems.”
A means or an end? Nine out of 10 business pitches don’t really need blockchain, said one panelist who screens blockchain startups. “They just want to start a token and get in on fundraising.”

Read, “High potential, remaining obstacles in blockchain for social impact” by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Speaking of refugees, TEDxKakumaCamp, will take place on June 9 in Kakuma Town in Kenya. It’s the first TEDx event hosted in a refugee camp and you can catch the livestreamFrontier Incubators is recruiting accelerator leaders in the Asia-Pacific region… Uncharted, formerly the Unreasonable Institute, is looking for a program director in Denver… The Obama Foundation is hiring a deputy executive director in Chicago.

— June 6, 2018.