The Brief | June 22, 2020

The Brief: Catholic climate investors, racial justice pledges, impact investing handbook, Egypt’s medicine marketplace, India’s social stock exchange

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Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Agents of Impact Call: Building impact-investing portfolios for all stakeholders. Join Alabama Power Foundation’s Myla Calhoun, Ford Foundation’s Margot Brandenburg and Grove Foundation’s Rebekah Saul Butler to discuss Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ new Impact Investing Handbook with authors Patrick Briaud and Steven Godeke (see below), on The Call, Thursday, June 25 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Catholic institutions commit to divesting fossil fuels and investing in climate solutions. The Vatican’s call urging Catholic congregations to divest from fossil fuels came in a 225-page manual meant to provide practical steps for implementing Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on climate change. Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home calls for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to “shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology, such as abortion and armaments, and to the environment, such as fossil fuels.” The manual also called for “stringent monitoring” to prevent air, soil and water contamination.

  • Climate solutions. More than a dozen congregations of Dominican Sisters last week announced a pooled investment of $46.7 million to seed two new Climate Solutions Funds managed by Morgan Stanley Investment Management. The funds target clean energy and energy efficiency as well as the needs of communities impacted by climate change. The private fund closed this spring with $110 million. Other Catholic institutions, including the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, which allocated 5% of its investment capital, backed a public version of the climate fund that has raised another $20 million.
  • Catholic pledges. Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, pledged in February to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy projects. In May, more than 20 Catholic institutions joined a faith-based divestment pledge. The Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative, which includes some of the Dominican congregations, now has 21 U.S. and European signatories to its impact investing pledge, representing $40 billion in assets.
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Institutional investors commit to action on racial justice. More than 100 asset managers, foundations and faith-based investors organized by the Racial Justice Investing Coalition pledged to address structural racism. “We recognize that the investor community has contributed to, and benefited from, racist systems and the entrenchment of white supremacy,” the group states, committing “to hold ourselves accountable for dismantling systemic racism and promoting racial equity and justice through our investments and work.” The pledge includes five specific actions, including engaging and amplifying Black voices, embedding a racial justice lens in decision-making, reinvesting in communities, and working to advance anti-racist public policy.

  • Belonging pledge. Also last week, more than 70 investors representing more than $570 billion in assets signed Confluence Philanthropies’ “Belonging Pledge,” committing to discuss racial equity at the next meeting of their investment committees.
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Sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: Impact Investing Handbook

Power dynamics in impact investing. A decade ago, two major guidebooks from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors mapped the budding practice of impact investing. The firm’s updated handbook, out June 25, rounds up the latest tools, frameworks and practices for new and existing impact investors. In an excerpt, the first in a series, RPA looks at the “Who” of impact investing, and the power dynamics between investors, investees, intermediaries and stakeholders. “Considerations of diversity, equity and inclusion are central elements of the Who,” write authors Patrick Briaud and Steve Godeke.

  • Impact Investing Handbook. Read the excerpt on ImpactAlpha and sign up to receive your copy of the Implementation Guide for Practitioners.
  • RSVP for The Call. Join the discussion Thursday, June 25 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Egypt’s Chefaa secures early funding for medicine delivery service. The women-led startup launched its prescription drug marketplace in 2017 to help chronic-disease patients fill prescriptions and access items like menstrual and baby products. Chefaa, which means “healing” in Arabic, directs customers’ prescription orders to nearby pharmacies for fulfillment and delivery to customers. The startup raised an undisclosed amount from return investor 500 Startups, as well as Vision Ventures and Womena.

Finland’s OP Corporate Bank raises €76 million for emerging markets impact fund. OP Finnfund Global Impact Fund, the cooperative financial services firm’s first emerging markets impact fund, will invest in food production in Africa, female-owned businesses in Asia, and other ventures. The fund is anchored by Finnish development finance institution Finnfund with participation from Finland’s Church Pension Fund, the Finnish Municipal Foundation, the Finnish Red Cross. It is looking to raise €100 million ($112 million).

Village Capital focuses European fintechs on financial health for vulnerable groups. Among the 11 startups selected for Finance Forward Europe is an app that predicts users financial challenges (Elifinity); a women-centered financial independence platform (FinMarie); a cross-border payments app for migrants (PiP iT); and a platform to improve social housing and utility services for low-income tenants (TellJO). Five of the startups are women-led and five are based in the U.K.

Impact Voices: Pass the Mic

No enterprise left behind: Building inclusivity into India’s social stock exchange. India’s emerging social stock exchange could bridge the gap between investable capital and the country’s large and diverse social enterprise sector (see, Focus on accountability as India’s social stock exchange takes shape). In a guest post on ImpactAlphaChitrangda Singh of AZB & Partners urges the exchange to reinforce “some of the most important principles of social impact – namely, inclusion, diversity and equality of opportunity for all deserving impact enterprises and organizations.” A working group released structural and operational guidelines for the exchange this month. The exchange does not do enough to enable participation by small and under-prepared social enterprises, says Singh, “thereby excluding them from accessing the capital being drawn into the exchange.”

  • Double-edged sword. The exchange, if successful, would facilitate capital flows to its listed enterprises and away from those outside of it. Social impact enterprises unable to meet reporting and regulatory requirements, argues Singh, could be hampered in their ability to access impact capital.
  • Proactive support. Singh proposes the social stock exchange set up intermediaries to prepare social enterprises for listing, as does the IIX Exchange with its Impact Partners program. A “capacity building fund” could help unlisted entities meet listing requirements. The working group’s report addressed a number of issues likely to arise as the exchange is developed, says Singh. “All eyes will be on India as this ambitious project progresses.”
  • Keep reading, “Building inclusivity into India’s social stock exchange,” by Chitrangda Singh on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Backstage Capital’s Brittany Davis is promoted to general partner… Bamboo Capital Partners’ new board of directors for operations in Latin America includes Bamboo’s founder Jean-Philippe de Schrevel, as well as Victor Toledo, Rebecca Ruf, Carlos Braga and Camilo Zea… Water Innovation Accelerator seeks a president… IDB Invest is hiring an investment management officer in Washington, D.C.

Thank you for reading.

–June 22, 2020