The Brief | December 2, 2019

The Brief: Catalyzing climate finance in India, biodigesters in Cambodia and Bangladesh, Kenya’s rural Amazon, student-led impact funds

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Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Catalyzing finance for climate action in India: A Q&A with Tata Trusts’ Shloka Nath. Global efforts to stem climate change are “utterly inadequate,” says U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as the COP25 climate conference gets underway this week in Madrid. The point of no return “is in sight and hurtling toward us.” This year’s Emissions Gap Report confirms that “countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.” The world’s two largest emitters, China and the U.S., get most of the attention. But effective climate action may hinge on India, the third-largest emitter, where climate change is already hitting hard. Heat waves in India this summer killed dozens of people, monsoon rains flooded Kerala, and air pollution in Delhi and other cities hit emergency levels. India is one of the few major countries meeting its own goals under the Paris climate accord, but the country continues to increase its coal-fired power plants.

Shloka Nath of Tata Trusts, one of India’s oldest philanthropies, is trying to reframe the climate challenge. “Climate change is not necessarily a doom-and-gloom story,” Nath said last week on the sidelines of the Sankalp Global Summit in Mumbai. Nath heads the India Climate Collaborative, a group of Indian philanthropies helping India meet its climate goals. She spoke with Tanaya Jagtiani and Devanshi Vaid of the India Development Review for ImpactAlpha. “There is an opportunity for financial systems to do what they do best, and that is figuring out how we can become a center for the greatest risk management system the planet has ever known,” she says. Among her prescriptions for philanthropic investors: Add a climate lens to agriculture, livelihood and migration programs; collaborate at scale to capture attention; simplify messaging points to establish a baseline consensus; and use data to make the climate case to investors.

Keep reading “Catalyzing finance for climate action in India: A Q&A with Tata Trusts’ Shloka Nath,” by Tanaya Jagtiani and Devanshi Vaid on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Australia’s ATEC raises $1.6 million to sell biodigesters in Cambodia, Bangladesh. Solar startups pioneered “pay-as-you-go” to provide access to electricity for low-income, off-grid customers. Australia’s ATEC is using pay-as-you-go to finance durable small-scale biodigesters to help Asia’s smallholder farmers manage farm waste and tap biogas as an energy source. ATEC’s portable units, designed for farmers with only a few head of livestock, process up to 40 kilograms of manure per day, producing fertilizer as well as biogas, which can be used for cooking or to run an electric generator. Customers pay for the system, which can save an estimated $500 a year, with a local mobile money app. ATEC has sold digesters to 1,400 Cambodian farmers since 2016. It estimates nearly six million small farms in Cambodia and Bangladesh could benefit from its systems.

  • Equity round. Singapore’s Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) helped ATEC raise $1.6 million in equity financing, led by French energy company ENGIE via its impact fund Rassembleurs d’Energies. The funding will support ATEC’s expansion to Bangladesh. IIX Growth Fund, Fondation Ensemble and Phitrust Asia also backed the round. Earlier this year, ATEC secured a small impact-linked loan ($30,000) from U.S.-based Beneficial Returns (see, “Impact-linked financial rewards help high-impact companies attract growth capital”).
  • Biogas boomlet. A growing number of companies are working to tap the clean, circular fuel source with systems small and large. Mexico-based Sistema.Bio makes and sells biodigesters for small-scale farmers. U.S.-based Leyline Renewable Capital is using bridge financing to de-risk utility-scale biodigestion facilities. Equilibrium Capital’s Wastewater Opportunity Fund refinanced a dairy cow manure biodigester in Arizona with a municipal bond (see, “Tapping the municipal bond market for distributed green infrastructure”).
  • Check it out

Chicago’s Booth School launches $1 million student-led impact fund. The University of Chicago’s MBA students are the latest to get impact investment decision-making say with an active fund. Duke University, Miami University, University of Michigan, and Wharton Business Schoolalso have student-led impact funds.

Copia, Kenya’s rural ‘Amazon,’ scores $26 million. The Nairobi-based e-commerce company, which sells and delivers a catalog of products to Kenya’s remote areas, raised the equity funding less than a year after its $2 million seed round.

Ecosurety launches £1 million grant fund for eco-packaging and e-waste. The environmental compliance advisory firm wants the fund to serve as a “springboard” for new innovations addressing waste and product reuse.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

CDC Group seeks a gender equality and women’s economic empowerment executive in London… Notley is looking for an investment analyst in Austin… The Global Impact Investing Network is recruiting a manager of finance and grants in New York… Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship is hiring a senior program coordinator in Durham, N.C.

Thank you for reading. 

– Dec. 2, 2019