The Brief | June 20, 2018

Tech for small farmers, Goldman Sachs’ bet on women, donor-advised impact investing, IMPACT principles

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: Impact Voices

Technology ventures aim to tackle challenges of the world’s small farmers, too. Technology has transformed agriculture in the last two decades. Yet most technical advances have targeted commercial farmers in the global north, with limited applications for the half-billion small-scale farmers in the global south. “That is beginning to change,” writes Tanner Methvin in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. Methvin, a partner at Impact Amplifier, a startup accelerator in Cape Town, highlights new technologies emerging to address a broad set of smallholder farmer constraints.

Cape Town startup GreenFingers Mobile, for example, is helping small farmers manage farm logistics and boost produce traceability. Bankable Farmer, a Thomson Reuters Africa Labs initiative, is one of many ventures using alternative credit-scoring algorithms to help farmers access loans and working capital. To reduce the cost of in-person farm visits for insurance claims, ACRE/Syngenta Foundation is using satellite weather data to determine the damages remotely. Impact investors finally have opportunities to help scale solutions for the small farmers who produce more than 70% of the food calories for the 5.7 billion people living in Africa and Asia.

Read, “Technology ventures aim to tackle challenges of the world’s small farmers, too,” by Tanner Methvin on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Goldman Sachs commits $500 million to women-led businesses. The big Wall Street bank said “Launch with GS” will invest its own money as well as clients’ capital in late-stage businesses that are founded, owned or led by women. In addition to direct investments, Goldman will back women investment managers starting their own funds. “Our goal with Launch with GS is to generate strong investment returns,” wrote Stephanie Cohen, Goldman’s chief strategy officer. “We also hope it makes a difference for women who have big ideas but find themselves cut out of the funding ecosystem.”

  • Beyond philanthropy. Goldman’s philanthropic arm has backed the 10,000 Women program to train women entrepreneurs. “It is tremendous to see Goldman Sachs coming to the table on the investment side the way they have on the philanthropy side,” said Suzanne Biegel, co-producer of the Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London this November.
  • Work to be done. Under a new U.K. requirement that companies report on their gender pay gaps, Goldman Sachs International reported a mean hourly pay gap of 55.5% and a mean bonus gap of 72.2%. As important as the big banks’ external commitments, Biegel said, “it will be equally powerful to see what they do internally to match these commitments.”
  • Full post.

Kleiner Perkins spin-off fund raises $350 million for clean tech. In addition to Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr, investors in the fund include Shell, Mitsui and ABB Group. More.

Brazil’s LadyDriver secures $500K in seed funds for safe ride-sharing for women. The Sao Paulo-based startup is among a growing number ride-hailing and sharing services launching women-only services. Dig in.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

For donor-advised funds, investible options climb with demand. There is $85 billion sitting in donor-advised funds, waiting to be put towards philanthropic causes. Increasingly, the dry powder in these DAF accounts is being channeled towards impact investments as well. Fidelity Charitable, the nation’s largest provider of donor-advised funds, says the capital committed to impact investing through its DAFs increased 110% to $856 million (out of $21 billion in total assets). As demand for impact investing through DAFs grows, the spectrum of product offerings is also growing. A snapshot:

  • Private debt and equity direct funds. ImpactAssets manages 1,000 DAF accounts with $424 million in assets. The nonprofit offers direct investments into impact funds targeting climate change solutions, ecoforestry, underserved small business owners, sustainable food and agriculture, the growing middle class in emerging markets and more.
  • Place-based investing. The Philadelphia Foundation, which manages 400 donor advised funds, made a $5 million commitment to PhilaImpact—a targeted $30 million fund for local businesses and community projects—as its first impact investment.
  • Returnable grants allow donors to recycle charitable contributions through multiple initiatives. Calvert Impact Capital has put returnable grants to work for affordable housing, education, and healthcare programs.

Keep reading, “For donor-advised funds, investible options climb with demand,” by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

“When Bain, TPG, Partners Group, and others arrive on the scene, investors want to know: Is it for real?” To help distinguish investors with robust impact management practices, impact investment consulting firm Tideline outlined six “IMPACT Principles“… Mission Investors Exchange is hiring a program associate in New York… Impact Entrepreneur and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors are hosting an International Leadership Summit for leaders in philanthropy, impact investing, and systems thinking on from July 10 to 12 in the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

— June 20, 2018.