The Brief | October 6, 2021

The Brief: Global impact goes local, upcycling grocery waste, refugee impact bond, residential solar acquisition, optimizing impact

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Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

The Call: Building an inclusive green economy. Growing up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Donnel Baird and his sister had to turn on the oven to heat their apartment. “In low-income communities, there’s a waste of energy and there’s a waste of human potential,” says Baird, CEO of BlocPower, which is bringing healthy, clean energy to low-income neighborhoods (see “Agent of Impact: Donnel Baird”). Baird will join ChargerHelp’s Kameale Terry, COI Energy’s SaLisa Berrien, Include Ventures’ Taj Eldridge and other Agents of Impact to talk “Black tech, green solutions,” with ImpactAlpha and The Plug, Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

Featured: Global Impact Summit

National advisory boards target local pension funds for small-business financing in emerging markets. Impact investing’s global network is going local. The national advisory boards, or NABs, that make up the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing are working to unlock capital from local pension plans and other domestic institutional investors for sustainable economic development. “The only pool of local, patient, long-term capital that could be deployed to small businesses is from pension funds. They just aren’t that familiar with alternative asset classes,” says Amma Lartey of Impact Investing Ghana, that country’s NAB. The group is working with Ghana’s $4.5 billion pension fund industry to design a locally-run fund of funds and offer a de-risked, institutional-grade opportunity to invest in small and growing businesses, which provide five out of every six jobs in the country. 

Lartey and representatives of other African NABs will explore “Scaling impact investment in Africa” at the GSG’s Global Impact Summit, which kicks off today and runs through Friday. The Zambian national advisory board is working with the central Bank of Zambia to pilot a guarantee facility to catalyze $1 billion in affordable credit for small businesses recovering from COVID disruptions. Nigeria’s NAB, still in formation, is seeking to tap domestic pension funds, which are required to be fully invested in the country, as well as dormant bank accounts, for a $1 billion impact fund of funds. Unlocking local capital means designing around local needs, says Drew von Glahn of the Collaborative for Frontier Finance, which is working with the NABs. Ghana’s fund of funds will be based in Ghanaian cedis, the local currency, and include a layer of concessional capital to mitigate pension funds’ risk concerns. A unique feature: Impact Investing Ghana intends to help launch a new local fund manager to manage the fund. “We want to piggyback on the local learning and not fly in fund managers from elsewhere,” Lartey says. “It’s part of the ecosystem building.”

  • On the agenda. At the GSG Global Impact Summit, ImpactAlpha’s David Bank will lead today’s panel, “Stories of Hope: Impact investment and a just recovery,” with Laurie Spengler, Dolika Banda, Giovanna Melandri and Laura Ortiz Montemayor, and tomorrow’s fireside chat with Hiro Mizuno, ex- of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (for background, see “Universal Owners”). Also on tap: “Creativity, Culture & Capital,” and “Impact Investing in Latin America,” a discussion with leaders of Latin American NABs. Full program.
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Dealflow: Circular Economy

Nuveen invests $169 million in Do Good Foods to turn grocery waste into animal feed. Roughly 40% of fruit, vegetables and meats sold at grocery stores end up in landfills (for context, see “Halving U.S. food waste is a $14 billion annual investment opportunity”). The “closed loop” system of New Jersey-based Do Good Foods collects and processes excess food from grocers and raises livestock on the nutrient-dense feed. Its Pennsylvania production facility can convert 160 tons of food a day. The company says each Do Good Chicken, due out next year, will repurpose approximately four pounds of food that would otherwise be thrown away.

  • Climate infrastructure. Nuveen backed Do Good with $169 million. Do Good Foods was founded by the Kamine family, which owns and operates $3.5 billion in natural gas, telecom, renewables and sustainable infrastructure through Kamine Development Corp. “We need actionable solutions to our massive environmental problems, and we need them now,” said Do Good’s Matt Kamine. Sam Kass, President Obama’s former chef, is the company’s chief strategy officer.
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Refugee bond attracts $14 million to support displaced people in Jordan and Lebanon. The Syrian conflict has forced 6.6 million people to flee the country; 80% have settled in neighboring countries. The proceeds of the development impact bond will allow the Near East Foundation UK to deliver vocational, entrepreneurship and resilience-building programs for more than 4,000 refugees and hosts, and provide 3,400 business start-up grants in Jordan.

  • Impact bond. The U.S. International Development Finance Corp. and Ferd, a Norwegian family-owned holding company, provided the upfront capital. If Near East Foundation meets its outcome targets, DFC and Ferd will receive annualized returns of about 5%, paid by the IKEA and Novo Nordisk foundations and Norway’s international development agency. In the case of failure, the same funders will reimburse 80% of the program costs. Kois structured the bond, which it developed with a grant from Convergence, a global network for blended finance.
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Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • SunPower buys U.S. residential solar provider Blue Raven Solar for as much as $165 million in cash.
  • Bank of Central Asia commits $40 million to Impact Credit Solutions’ Indonesia Resilience Fund to finance hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other healthcare providers.
  • The Families and Workers Fund launches with $51 million to advance quality jobs and invest in more effective public benefits.
  • ARM-Harith launches the blended-finance Urban Climate Fund for West Africa to unlock capital for low-carbon, climate-resilient development in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria.

Series: Optimizing for Impact

Where are you on your impact management journey? (video). Duke University’s Cathy Clark led a workshop on impact measurement and management on last month’s Agents of Impact call. Over the next few weeks, ImpactAlpha will offer a sampling of Clark’s favorite short videos from the new Coursera course, Impact Measurement and Management for the SDGs,” developed by CASE at Duke and the U.N. Development Programme – along with commentary from Cathy. First up: The four steps of impact measurement and management. Says Clark, “We’re hoping that using the framework of these four steps – set strategy, integrate, optimize and reinforce – can help investors identify where their practices are strongest and weakest and where it makes sense to spend the most time making tangible improvements.” Take a peak.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Antony Bugg-Levine, former head of Nonprofit Finance Fund, joins Lafayette Square as co-head of community impact (see “Agent of Impact, Antony Bugg-Levine”). Together with Lafayette Square founder Damien Dwin and Don Baylor Jr., co-head of community impact, Bugg-Levine says, “We aim to demonstrate how a combination of capital and curated services can create economic opportunity across the country.” 

Mary Beth Gallagher, ex- of Investor Advocates for Social Justice, joins Domini as director of engagement… Southern Bancorp’s Darrin Williams joins Enterprise Community Partners’ board of trustees… Pacific Community Ventures is hiring a chief impact officer / economist… Applications are open for The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program.

Thank you for your impact.

– Oct 6, 2021