The Brief | February 9, 2021

The Brief: Climate edge for gender investors, quality meat in India, retail impact investing, electric bikes, small businesses in the deep South

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Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

The Call: Opportunities at the intersection of gender and climate. Women entrepreneurs, especially in emerging markets, are targeting climate adaptation – by necessity. Climate investors are gaining an edge by focusing on women (see below). Gender Smart’s Suzanne Biegel joins ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering, along with entrepreneurs, investors and other special guests, to map investment opportunities at the intersection of climate and gender. Join Agents of Impact Call No. 27, Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 9am PT / 12pm ET / 5pm London / 8pm Nairobi. RSVP today

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Mapping the climate edge for gender investors – and vice versa. A tire recycling company. A fashion brand sourcing local textiles from traditional weavers. An artisanal baker who buys locally grown grains and sells through a network of local women. WIC Capital, a women-led, women-backed investment fund in Dakar, Senegal, is getting an environmental bonus from the women entrepreneurs it backs. “100% of these entrepreneurs are thinking about the community, about the jobs they’re creating, and about the environment,” WIC’s Evelyne Dioh tells ImpactAlpha. That investments in, by and for women often have co-benefits for climate adaptation and mitigation offers a growth path for what has been a niche, $12 billion market for “gender lens” investing (see, “Accelerating climate emergency spurs innovative financing for adaptation”). The corollary: a gender lens provides an edge for climate investors. “Climate change disproportionately impacts women, particularly those with fewer resources, but women are also disproportionately part of the solution,” says Suzanne Biegel, host of the GenderSmart Investment Summit now underway. 

Gender-smart climate initiatives can tick all three boxes for environmental, social and governance, or ESG, investing. And investments at the intersection of Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 (gender equality) and No. 13 (climate action) “are like keys that can unlock opportunities across societal goals,” argues a report released at the GenderSmart summit. Singapore-based IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bonds, for example, aim to improve livelihoods for women farmers in Asia and their ability to weather climate shocks. VisionFund International raised capital with a “kangaroo bond” in Australia to help women entrepreneurs and farmers secure micro-loans and climate insurance. In Amman, Jordan, Amam Ventures sees environmental impact in its pipeline of women-led businesses. “Women think about society as a whole,” Amam’s Fida Taher tells ImpactAlpha. “They know that what they’re doing has an impact, so when they measure their financial returns, they’re also measuring their impact on the environment and society.”

Keep reading, “Mapping the climate edge for gender investors – and vice versa,” by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Ada Ventures invests £2.5 million in Tickr to expand retail impact investing in Europe. Tickr’s app allows users to invest as little as £5 ($7) in companies expanding access to education, clean water, renewable energy, sustainable food and other environmental and social impact areas. 

  • Retail impact. Triodos Bank U.K. launched an impact bond fund last year starting at £20 per share for individuals looking to invest in corporate, social and green bonds. Last April, OpenInvest raised $10.5 million to expand its ESG-themed robo-advisory services. Retail impact investing platform Swell shut down in 2019 when it was “not able to achieve the scale needed to sustain operations in the current market.” 
  • More.

TenderCuts raises $15 million to source and distribute quality meat and fish in India. The Chennai-based company aims to provide high quality meat and fish to customers in India. Paragon Ventures led the investment round, with Nabventures, an agtech venture fund. The investment will help TenderCuts source meat, poultry and fish directly from local fishermen and farmers, Nabventures’ Rajesh Ranjan told ImpactAlpha. “This will improve producers’ income, eliminate the margins of intermediaries and lower the price for customers,” said Ranjan.

Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Electric bike company Rad Power Bike secures $150 million. The round was backed by TPG’s Rise Fund, Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Durable Capital Partners, Vulcan Capital, and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price. 
  • Indian fintech venture SarvaGram secures $10.5 million to serve rural households. Elevation Capital led the company’s Series B funding round, which also included existing investor Elevar Equity. 
  • AgroCenta raises seed funding to support Ghana’s smallholder farmers. The startup buys crops from smallholder farmers at fair market prices. AV Ventures, Shell Foundation, the U.K. government, and the Rabo Foundation backed the $790,000 round.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Big companies back small businesses and the community development financiers that serve them. Small businesses got a boost from Alicia Keys’ post-Super Bowl concert, sponsored by Verizon, which committed $10 million in small business grants to be distributed through the Local Initiatives Support Corp. The concert put a rare national spotlight on the country’s most underserved businesses and the financial institutions that step in where banks are absent (see, “How community banks and local lenders are bridging racial gaps in COVID recovery”). A few years ago, such attention “would not have even been on our imaginary board of what could be,” said LISC’s Beth Marcus. Today, Goldman Sachs is putting $130 million into Hope Enterprise’s Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative to provide funding and resources to small businesses in regions hard hit by the pandemic. 

  • Star power. Verizon’s live streamed Big Concert for Small Business also featured Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, Brittany Howard and other big names. “Small businesses are so important and we need to do whatever we can to keep them alive; our communities can’t recover without them,” said Keys, who in October launched a $1 billion campaign to support and empower Black businesses, schools and communities. The NFL was among the fund’s first backers.
  • Community anchors. Hope, a Jackson, Miss.-based community development financial institution, or CDFI, is partnering with eight historically Black colleges and universities and seven southern cities to offer technical assistance and loans, initially through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small businesses. “It is critical that these businesses are supported, because they are anchors in communities of color, and so are our historically black colleges and universities,” Hope’s Bill Bynum told ImpactAlpha. Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses will make its course offerings available to participating businesses. 
  • Southern roots. Four out of 10 Black-owned businesses in the U.S. have permanently closed since February. The Deep South collaborative brings together partners that have worked with Hope into a coordinated effort. Participating cities are Birmingham, Montgomery, Little Rock, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Memphis, along with Jackson. Hope’s partners among historically Black colleges include Alabama State University, Southern University, Xavier University, Jackson State University and Tougaloo College. 
  • Run with it.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Confluence Philanthropy’s climate solutions collaborative seeks a senior program manager… Social Capital Partners is hiring an associate / senior associate of investments in Toronto… ABC World Asia is looking for an impact and ESG analyst in Singapore… Nearly 150 Luminate partners are hiring for 350 jobs… Broadridge Financial Solutions launches an ESG advisory service with Third Economy.

Applications are open for Harlem Capital’s angel investor training program (and Harlem’s former partner John Henry launched Loop to make auto insurance more equitable)… NES Financial is hosting “Opportunity Zones 2021: Trends, future outlook and more” with Shay Hawkins of the Opportunity Funds Association, Seth Lebowitz of Sadis & Goldberg, Rachel Reilly of Aces & Archers, Louis Dubin of Redbrick LMD and NES Financial’s Reid Thomas, tomorrow, Feb. 10.

Thank you for your impact.

 – Feb. 9, 2021