The Brief | October 5, 2022

The Brief: Greening your retirement plan, Africa’s cold chain, long-life batteries, clean energy for businesses in Costa Rica, water startups in Tunisia

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

Featured: Corporate Impact 

Mitigating the carbon risks lurking in your 401(k). Employees in the U.S. with company-sponsored retirement plans are financing carbon-intensive companies and are disproportionately exposed to the climate-related risks such companies face, according to a recent report from the Business Climate Finance Initiative in collaboration with Mercer and the CFA Institute. Two guest posts on ImpactAlpha explore how companies – and employees – can reduce the climate-risk exposure of the roughly $8 trillion in assets held in more than 100 million 401(k) employee retirement plans across the U.S.

  • How corporations can reduce greenhouse emissions of their retirement plans and cash deposits. Employee demand, availability of climate-friendly funds, and changes in policy are creating an opportunity to reduce emissions in 401(k)s, writes Jenna Nicholas of Impact Experience, which, as host of the Business for Climate Finance Initiative, released the report, The Carbon Impact of U.S. Company-sponsored 401(k) Plans.” When employees are offered ESG-focused alternatives, nine out of 10 chose to invest in them, according to one survey. After companies understand and measure the climate risks and climate-related financial impacts associated with their retirement plans, Nicholas says, they should offer 401(k) options that explicitly consider financially-material climate impacts. Nicholas cites companies such as Carbon Collective (see below) and Sphere, which have created ESG-focused, climate-friendly 401(k) investment options for companies and employees. Read on.
  • Five steps to greening your 401(k) – and why it’s harder than it should be. There is a pathway to greening your 401(k), says Carbon Collective’s Zach Stein. “The status quo only changes when enough people decide to change it.” Stein’s five-step plan includes running your company’s current fund offerings through, part of As You Sow’s Invest Your Values toolkit. Stein includes a sample letter employees can use to request sustainable and climate-smart investment options before gathering signatures to submit to executives and board members. If that doesn’t work, he says, employees should make noise about fiduciary duty. “As a participant in a 401(k) plan, you have every legal right to seek legal protection if you believe your financial interests are not being served,” Stein says. Dive in.

Dealflow: Africa’s Cold Chain

A $150 million fund aims to curb food waste by investing in Africa’s cold chain. Fragmented supply chains, inadequate technology and unpredictable power cause nearly half of food produced in Africa to go to waste. Investors led by African Infrastructure Investment Managers will invest $150 million in strengthening Africa’s cold chain. Cold trucks, storage and related infrastructure are “critical for improving sub-Saharan Africa’s food security; allowing domestic producers to meet the standards required to participate in global trade; and creating higher-value jobs through more formal food retail and wholesale models,” said AIIM’s Damilola Agbaje. AIIM has taken a controlling stake in South Africa’s CCS Logistics, a 50-year-old logistics company with six facilities in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Walvis Bay, Namibia. Bauta Logistics and Mokobela Shakati joined the deal and will partner with AIIM on its cold chain investment arm, Commercial Cold Holdings.

  • Market introduction. Cape Town-based AIIM is a private equity firm with $2.4 billion in African infrastructure assets under management across seven funds. CCS’s current markets already have better cold chain facilities than many other African markets. South Africa nevertheless “lags comparable economies such as Egypt and Brazil,” which have more cold storage space per capita, said Agbaje.
  • Refrigeration investment. Logistics is one of Africa’s hottest investment categories. Companies streamlining the flow of essential and often perishable goods include Kenya’s Kwanza Tukule and Logistify AI, Egypt’s OneOrder, and Uganda’s Solarchil. All have raised venture funding this year to improve food logistics and curb waste. Last year, Kenya’s Twiga Foods and Egypt’s MaxAB raised $50 million and $40 million, respectively, for their food logistics networks. Governments are recognizing the need and opportunity as well. Lesotho’s economic development partnership with the U.S. includes cold chain infrastructure development. Rwanda launched Africa’s first “National Cooling Strategy.”
  • Chill out.

Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Long-life battery manufacturer Form Energy clinched $450 million in Series E financing, backed by TPG Rise Climate, ArcelorMittal, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, The Engine and others (for context, see, “Form Energy scores backing from TPG’s $5.4 billion climate fund“).
  • Costa Rica’s Greenenergy raised $5 million from Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy to finance on-site clean energy systems for businesses.
  • TechStars, Flat6Labs and others backed Tunisian startup Kumulus Water, which is developing tech that collects drinking water from ambient air.
  • Brazilian fintech venture Ali raised $25 million to help Brazilian workers reduce their debt loads by refinancing through employer benefit programs.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Guillaume Abel, ex- of Ostrum Asset Management, joins Mirova as deputy CEO… Sébastien Duquet, formerly with Symbiotics, joins Mirova SunFunder to lead its climate fund (see, “The LiiST: Seven impact funds that are raising capital now“)… KPMG promotes John McCalla-Leacy to global head of ESG… Aligned Climate Capital promotes Nneka (Uzoh) Kibuule to principal… Energize Ventures makes four hires: Jeff Smith, ex- of Norwest Venture Partners, joins as head of commercialization; David Yi joins as portfolio finance specialist; and Meredith Breach, ex- of Vista Equity Partners, and Jarell Mason, ex- of Houston Impact Fund, join as senior investment associates. 

Wakefern Food Corp. is recruiting a manager of corporate social responsibility in Edison, N.J… The Nature Conservancy is looking for an entities operations manager for the U.S. and Latin America… Climate Nexus is recruiting a remote energy transition communications manager… Austin Community Foundation is hiring fund services coordinators… West Africa Blue is looking for a blue carbon associate in Sierra Leone.

U.C. Santa Barbara seeks a projects and operations coordinator and a communications and outreach coordinator for its 2035 Initiative…  Google is looking for a director for global decarbonization strategy and program management in Mountain View, Calif., and a racial equity analyst in New York. Also in New York: World Economic Forum seeks a future of consumption lead; The Humane League is looking for a senior manager of public policy campaigns; and Acre is recruiting a vice president of impact investments. 

In the Washington, D.C. area: The Federal Reserve Board is hiring an economic editor for research and statistics; Open Society Foundations is recruiting a program officer for corporate accountability and worker rights; Breakthrough Energy is hiring a government relations manager; International Foundation for Electoral Systems seeks an inclusion program officer and specialist in Arlington, Va… Sierra Club seeks a climate campaign representative in College Park, Md.

Thank you for your impact!

– Oct. 5, 2022