The Brief | September 27, 2022

The Brief: Charting the ‘sustainability revolution,’ energy transition at Mirova, AXA’s natural capital, EV charging in the U.S., U.K.’s impact investing growth

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

👋 Calling all Agents. Don’t miss “Creative capital for gender-smart investments,” ImpactAlpha’s next subscriber-only Agents of Impact Call with Anna Raptis of Amplifica Capital in Mexico City, Lelemba Phiri of Africa Trust Group in Cape Town, Leila Charfi of Actawa Ventures in Tunis, Nicole Garcia of USAID Invest, and GenderSmart’s Suzanne Biegel in conversation with ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering and David Bank, tomorrow, Sept. 28 at 9am PT / 12pm ET / 6pm Cape Town. RSVP today.

Featured: Low-Carbon Transition

A dozen charts that map the uneven but hopeful path to a carbon-free economy. Transitions are rarely a straight line. That is especially true of the massive global shift underway to a low-carbon economy. The smart minds at Generation Impact Management have been charting the energy transition’s progress and bumps in their annual Sustainability Trends Report.” “We believe this transition is still in its earliest stages, and that accelerating it is essential to human welfare and to the preservation of the natural world,” write Generation’s Al Gore and David Blood in the sixth edition of the data-packed report. New climate investments by the U.S. will lead to an “historic acceleration of the sustainability revolution.”

  • Among the takeaways. Advanced economies are reducing emissions, but growing economies are quickly increasing theirs. Money is flowing to climate investments, but mostly to wealthy countries and mature sectors, not capital-starved emerging and frontier markets. China dwarfs the U.S. in wind power capacity, but it is also adding prodigious amounts of coal power. And surging carbon markets have the potential to channel capital to nature-based solutions.
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Dealflow: Clean Energy

Mirova raises $1.5 billion for its fifth energy transition infrastructure fund. Paris-based Mirova is the $27 billion impact unit of French asset management firm Natixis Investment Managers. The B Corp has raised nearly $1.5 billion across four funds since 2002 and invested in more than 330 energy infrastructure projects amounting to over 6.5 gigawatts of installed generation capacity in Europe and Asia. Its fifth fund raised $1.5 billion from investors, including the European Investment Fund and the Netherlands’ Pensioenfonds van de Metalektro, according to PitchBook. The fund also attracted investors in North America and Asia. A third of the capital came from investors in Mirova’s previous funds. 

  • Cleantech portfolio. Mirova has deployed €600 million ($577 million) in onshore wind energy, hydroelectric power, green hydrogen, low-carbon mobility and energy storage projects in France, Poland and Belgium. The firm will look for similar deals in Asia to invest the rest of the fund.
  • Sustainable bonds. Mirova has also launched a pair of sustainable bond funds. Mirova Euro High Yield Sustainable Bond will invest in bonds financing health, green mobility, waste treatment, recycling and sustainable real estate. Mirova Euro Short Sustainable Bond will target bonds from companies needing short and medium-term financing for sustainable projects.
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AXA’s €500 million initiative to invest in reforestation and land conservation. The insurer’s Natural Capital Strategy will make equity investments and offer project financing to organizations preventing deforestation of vulnerable areas and improving conservation efforts. The goal is to generate carbon credits that can be sold to generate revenue from the projects. “There is an urgent need to grow scalable investment solutions to protect and sustainably manage natural capital, which are relatively nascent in today’s market,” said Alexandre Martin Min of AXA Investment Managers, which is managing the fund. It’s part of AXA Group’s €1.5 billion commitment to support sustainable forest management. The fund will be open to existing AXA investors.

  • Carbon markets. Rising carbon prices are making conservation, once deemed unbankable, “something that makes viable returns and therefore can unlock institutional capital,” AXA IM’s Jonathan Dean told International Financing Review. Carbon offset platform ClimateSeed, which AXA IM acquired last year, will handle the Natural Capital Strategy’s carbon-credit accounting.
  • Check it out.  

Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Sunrise Banks secured $250 million from the U.S. Treasury Department to increase lending to small businesses in underserved communities.
  • OurCrowd, the Israel-based global crowdfunding platform, is looking to raise $200 million for a global health equity impact fund, in partnership with the WHO Foundation.
  • Ivorian payments startup Julaya snagged $5 million in a pre-Series A round led by Speedinvest.
  • KGIT scored $25,000 from student-led NYU Impact Investment Fund for electric vehicle charging in underserved communities in the U.S.

Signals: Market Growth

U.K. impact investing nears £8 billion on strong growth. The pound is tanking and U.K. energy prices are skyrocketing, but here’s something to be chuffed about: Impact investments in the U.K. have grown nearly ten-fold over the past decade, from £830 million ($1.3 billion) in 2011 to £7.9 billion ($10.7 billion) in 2021, according to a tally by Big Society Capital being released today. The impact sector grew 22% from 2020 to 2021. Social and affordable housing funds account for the largest segment of U.K. impact investing at £3.8 billion. Social lending is the second largest segment, attracting some £3.3 billion in 2021. “As the economic crisis worsens, the need for social impact investment to support social enterprises, charities and community enterprises will be ever more critical,” said Big Society’s Stephen Muers.

  • Rising prices. The recent market turbulence and the sharp slide in pound’s value are creating challenges and uncertainty for impact investors, admits Big Society’s Jeremy Rogers. The current crisis is shifting the balance between the needs of social purpose enterprises and the needs of investors,” he told ImpactAlpha, “and we don’t yet know how far that balance will shift and how long it will last.” The impact fund manager points to AgilityEco, which helps low-income households manage their energy bills, and the financial wellbeing app Wagestream, as social enterprises that are helping communities navigate cost of living spikes.
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Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Lisa Woll, who has served as CEO of US SIF for nearly 17 years, will step down on Jan. 31, 2023… Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “will run for another 25 years,” Bill Gates, who co-chairs the foundation with ex-wife and fellow billionaire Melinda French Gates, said at the annual Forbes 400 Philanthropy Summit last week. 

The Nature Conservancy is looking for a corporate engagement advisor for biodiversity… In Washington, D.C.: Economic Innovation Group seeks a policy associate… Habitat for Humanity International is hiring a government relations and advocacy project manager… Opportunity Finance Network is recruiting a senior associate for government relations and an impact investing intern

Don’t miss this week’s ImpactAlpha partner event: Phenix Capital is hosting Impact Summit America, featuring actor Matt Damon and Gary White of Water Equity, Marieke Spence of Impact Capital Managers, Thomas Belazis of Rockefeller Foundation, ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese, and other guests, tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 28 in New York. Asset owners and institutional investors can apply for a complimentary ticket.

Thank you for your impact!

– Sept. 27, 2022