The Brief | April 18, 2022

The Brief: Equity in climate resilience, maternal health in Brazil, Stripe backs Sacca for carbon capture, nimble solar installations, the circular economy

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Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: Agents of Impact Call

Mitigation x adaptation x equity = climate resilience. Just as the COVID pandemic massively accelerated the digitalization of small and growing businesses in emerging markets, the war in Ukraine is speeding a long overdue upgrade across agricultural, energy and market mechanisms. As it happens, local food security, distributed clean energy and even access to independent, credible news and information are the same adaptations needed to build resilience in the face of an even broader disruption: climate change. Tomorrow’s Agents of Impact Call (RSVP) will challenge investors and policymakers to move from loss-mitigation to transformative change. Equitable adaptation means designing adaptation solutions by, with and for low-income countries and communities that have had the least to do with creating the climate crisis but are hurt by it the most. “Climate justice is only justice if every community, if every voice, is listened to, is amplified – especially people from the most affected areas,” says Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, author of A Bigger Picture.

  • Food security. The climate resilience of the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers requires mechanisms to pay for better seed varieties, solar-powered irrigation, and training for techniques to restore soil and protect watersheds. “If you bundle inputs with financing so that farmers can afford the inputs during planting, those farmers are able to double or triple their production,” says Benjamin Njenga of Apollo Agriculture in Nairobi.
  • Diverse sources of capital. Climate change adaptation has attracted less than $500 million per year in private investment. Nuveen, the $1.3 trillion asset-management arm of TIAA, awarded Shell Foundation a $100 million mandate to “deploy capital into leading companies that are disrupting traditional value chains,” says Nuveen’s Rekha Unnithan. The Lightsmith Climate Resilience fund raised $186 million for one of the first private-equity growth capital funds focused on climate adaptation. “We are aiming for technologies that can get us through this challenging set of conditions to a better set of outcomes for more people, and we think that’s good for people and very valuable for investors,” says Lightsmith’s Jay Koh.
  • Keep reading, “Mitigation x adaptation x equity = climate resilience,” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha.
  • Answer The Call: Catalytic capital for climate adaptation and social equity. Join Nuveen’s Rekha Unnithan, Lightsmith Group’s Jay Koh, Apollo Agriculture’s Benjamin Njenga, USAID’s Songbae Lee, Resilience Capital Ventures’ Gillian Marcelle and other Agents of Impact to explore strategies for catalyzing adaptation finance and equity, tomorrow, Apr. 19 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

Dealflow: Investing in Health

Theia scores $6.4 million for maternal health in Brazil. More than 80% of births in Brazil are via cesarean sections, far above the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 15% for optimal maternal and neonatal outcomes. Sao Paulo-based Theia has provided consultations to more than 1,000 pregnant women this year with obstetric nurses, gynecologists, pelvic physiotherapists, pediatricians and other health professionals. The female-led company, founded by a pair of Stanford MBA grads, says it has reduced the incidence of C-sections to 65% among its patients.

  • Women’s health equity. Founders Flavia Deutsch and Paula Crespi, who are both currently pregnant, are working to make Theia’s services more accessible and affordable for women. The company’s patients pay between 200 and 400 reais ($42.50 and $85) for consultations. 8VC, Canaan and Kaszek Ventures invested in Theia’s seed round.
  • Check it out

Stripe backs Lowercarbon Capital $350 million fund for carbon capture. “There has never been a better time to start a carbon removal company,” wrote investor Chris Sacca in launching Lowercarbon Capital’s new fund. Advances in electrochemistry, engineered fungi in soil, and new chemical structures that are reducing costs are “bonkers,” he said. Just as important: guaranteed demand for carbon removal from companies such as Stripe, which last week launched Frontier with other tech companies to purchase nearly $1 billion of carbon removal credits by 2030. Sacca singled out Stripe, which backed the new fund, for “pushing the envelope on climate solutions.” Ryan Orbuch, who led Stripe’s carbon removal procurement program, will lead the fund.

  • Low-carbon transition. Carbon removal may be the only way to bring carbon levels back in line with global goals. Lowercarbon’s fund will target carbon removal approaches “with massive potential that haven’t even been discovered yet,” said Sacca. The firm backed Verdox to commercialize electric carbon capture. Sacca invested in carbon removal providers Charm Industrial, which stores carbon-rich bio-oil underground; Living Carbon, which has engineered “carbon-guzzling supertrees”; and Running Tide, which farms kelp to sequester carbon in the ocean. Direct-air capture pioneer Climeworks raised $650 million this month in the largest-ever haul for a climate removal company.
  • Get on board.

Raptor Maps secures $22 million for solar management software. Boston-based Raptor’s platform helps Tesla and other companies scout installation sites and quantify financial and other risks, using drones to collect data on solar assets. “The energy industry needs tools to become nimbler and deploy renewable energy quickly,” said Mark Kroese of Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, which backed the Series B round alongside MacKinnon, Bennett & Co., and existing investors Blue Bear Capital and Buoyant Ventures. Share this post.

Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Medikabazaar raised $65 million for its online medical supplies marketplace for healthcare necessities in India’s smaller cities and rural areas.
  • New York-based Closed Loop Partners will invest up to $5 million in flexible capital for circular economy projects.
  • Brazil’s Galena snagged $16.7 million in a Series A round to up-skill 50,000 young people over the next five years.

Agents of Impact: Where to Meet

Don’t miss these ImpactAlpha partner events:

  • AVCA is convening “Private Capital in Africa at a Crossroads,” featuring Calendly’s Tope Awotona, LeapFrog Investments’ Karima Ola, and Oguche Agudah of Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, in Dakar, Apr. 25-29. Register today.
  • Island Innovation is hosting its online Island Finance Forum, Apr. 25-29, including guests Ray Klien of Republic Financial Holdings, Telly Valerie Onu of Bantu Blockchain Foundation, and Andrew Fahie, Premier of the Virgin Islands. Register now.
  • BlueMark is hosting “Raising the Bar: Aligning on the Key Elements of Impact Performance Reporting,” with Fran Seegull of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Elizabeth Seeger of KKR, Tamar Pashtan of Vital Capital, Bhavika Vyas of StepStone Group, and BlueMark’s Sarah Gelfand, Wednesday, Apr. 27.
  • ImpactPHL is convening “Total Impact: Investing for New Economies,” featuring ABC News’ ​​Stephanie Humphrey, FullCycle’s Stephan Nicoleau, and B Lab’s Jay Coen Gilbert, in Philadelphia, May 16-17. ImpactAlpha subscribers get $300 off with code IMPACTALPHA. RSVP today.

Thank you for your impact.

– Apr. 18, 2022