The Brief | March 14, 2023

The Brief: Elevar’s strategy for low-income customers, water infrastructure in Africa, green bond in Jordan, biomass to biofuel, ImpactAssets 50

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: Emerging Markets

From India to Latin America, Elevar Equity invests in better livelihoods and products for low-income customers (Q&A). In a volatile global economy, Elevar Equity has found a safe, or at least safer, harbor: low-income customers. “There is a lot of resilience within lower-income and underserved communities,” Elevar’s Johanna Posada says in an interview with ImpactAlpha. “People will continue to spend on basic services.” That proposition is true both in India, where Elevar started more than 15 years ago, and in Latin America, where the firm has been growing its presence over the past five years. “Latin America is catching up,” says Amie Patel, who became Elevar’s CEO and a partner last year. Since launching its fourth fund in 2018, “we realized there’s a lot more activity in the region, and entrepreneurial ecosystems in a number of countries have become more developed,” Patel says. “Impact and ESG investing is a topic that’s now becoming top of mind for a lot of local investors in the region.”

Elevar is for the first time raising separate funds to invest in its core markets. The firm is targeting at least $125 million for its India fund, where it has historically invested the bulk of its capital. And it’s raising $75 million to $100 million to invest exclusively in Latin America. “We’re still targeting the exact same customer segment that we always have. That part of us will never change,” says Patel. But shifting market dynamics and investor preferences, particularly in Latin America, now warrant separate funds. Elevar likes to be the lead equity investor in early-stage rounds, and to get its hands dirty in business models serving customers overlooked by most entrepreneurs and mainstream investors. “We understand the client segment, and we can help companies prove out the unit economics,” Posada says. “Once you prove that out, other investors see how massive the opportunity is.”  

Dealflow: Green Infrastructure

British International Investment and Metito Utilities to invest in water infrastructure in Africa. One-third of Africans lack access to clean drinking water; two-thirds lack access to basic sanitation services. Urbanization and climate change are straining already scarce water resources. U.K. development finance institution BII and water infrastructure investor Metito Utilities are launching Africa Water Infrastructure Development to prove the commercial viability of water and sanitation projects on the continent (for context, see, “How pre-construction financing is building a pipeline of water projects in Kenya“). AWID will build and finance climate-smart water and wastewater treatment plants. “Such projects are particularly capital intensive,” said Metito’s Rami Ghandour.

  • Water access. AWID’s first deal is the Kigali Bulk Water Supply plant in Rwanda, which provides one-quarter of the capital city’s potable water for 500,000 households and commercial and industrial customers. The water treatment plant is also backed by a $20 million loan from the African Development Bank.
  • Check it out.

Jordan’s first green bond secures $50 million from the International Finance Corp. Jordan Kuwait Bank issued the bond to finance clean energy projects, low-carbon transportation, energy-efficient real estate, and sustainably-managed waste and water resources. The World Bank estimates that Jordan needs to invest $9.5 billion in a low-carbon economy, more than 60% of which will need to come from private investors. International Finance Corp. will allocate $36 million from its own account, as well as $10 million in a blended-finance co-investment with Global Affairs Canada and $4 million from a facility backed by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “We hope this green bond will not only promote climate-smart, sustainable projects in Jordan, but also set the standard for green bonds in the market and encourage others to follow suit,” said IFC’s Khawaja Aftab Ahmed. The bond will comply with the International Capital Market Association’s green bond principles. Share this post.  

Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Montreal-based Airex Energy raised C$38 million ($27.6 million) to convert biomass into biofuels.
  • Carbonomy scored $16 million from France-based Hedonova to help farmers adopt sustainable farming practices and link them to carbon markets.
  • Estonia’s Roofit.Solar secured €6.4 million ($6.9 million) to help European homeowners switch to rooftop solar power. 
  • Renew Capital invested in Kenya’s Badili to improve affordable online and mobile access through its used-phone marketplace.

Signals: Fund Management

The ImpactAssets 50 – er, 163 – is the biggest and most diverse ever. This year’s showcase of impact investment fund managers highlights bigger funds and increasing diversity, as well as a focus on climate tech and market-beating returns. The 12th annual list features 163 fund managers with a total of $122 billion in assets under management (for a sampling of impact funds currently raising capital, check out ImpactAlpha’s monthly Liist). Alvarium Tiedemann’s Jed Emerson, who chaired the review committee, points to new funds bringing “new perspectives and pursuing new opportunities, challenging each of us to raise our game.” The annual list is intended to provide a representative sampling of the field to help orient new impact investors.

  • New kids on the block. Amazonia Impact Ventures, a European fund, makes private debt investments in enterprises to protect and regenerate the Amazon rainforest. Climate Capital Bio is a pre-seed venture fund backing biotech climate solutions in the U.S. and Canada. Kairos Investment Management invests in affordable housing in the U.S. 
  • Diverse funds. The fund managers in the sample are notably more diverse than the broader asset management field. Nearly half of IA 50 firms have investment teams where people of color represent 50% or more of staff; 43% have 50% or more female staff. Climate tech is the biggest impact theme, representing  a quarter of funds. Eighteen funds on the list clock in at $1 billion or more, up from 15 billion-dollar babies last year. “It makes you humbled to be a part of this changing community,” Emerson tells ImpactAlpha. “The theme is a growing community of practice, and the trend is deeper!”
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Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

May Ng, formerly with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will join the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as chief investment officer. Ng will replace Brian O’Neil, who announced his retirement last year… Loïc Comolli, ex- of NESsT, joins the Schmidt Family Foundation to focus on U.S. food and agriculture investments… Climate consultant Monica Araya is named executive director of international programs at the European Climate Foundation.

The Open Society Foundations is looking for an associate director of climate justice for a two-year contract in New York… LEGO Group is hiring a senior global sustainability manager in Denmark… Enterprise Community Partners seeks a manager of investment communications… Brown Brothers Harriman is hiring a sustainability analyst in Boston… The Nature Conservancy is looking for a director of development in Latin America… Net Impact seeks applications for its 2023 Sustainable Cities Impact Investing Challenge.

Thank you for your impact.

– Mar. 14, 2023