The Brief | August 10, 2023

The Brief: Healthcare innovation in Africa, green bond in San Francisco, filtering microplastics, protecting Amazon forests

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Featured: Investing in Health

Let’s retain talent and crowd in investment in healthcare innovation in Africa. The waning of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the outflux of Africa’s skilled healthcare workforce, as the US and the UK recruit nurses to plug gaps in their own healthcare systems. About one in four nursing positions in the UK are filled by health professionals from Nigeria, Ghana, Nepal and other countries on the World Health Organization’s red list, which aims to discourage recruitment in countries with skills shortages. “The continent needs to severely invest in the training and retention of the healthcare workforce,” says Ayotunde Aladejana of Founders Factory Africa, an early stage tech investor with offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Accra.

  • Effective demand. When the demand for healthcare is supported by patients’ ability to pay for it, a healthcare system can attract investment and invite private sector participation to develop supply chains, skills and the broadening of the public healthcare safety net. In Nigeria, approximately 90% of healthcare expenses are paid out of pocket, resulting in the lack of effective demand within the Nigerian healthcare system, Aladejana says. “Serious thought should be given to developing and implementing a national health insurance policy.”
  • Startup ecosystem. Gaps in the Nigerian public healthcare system create opportunities for healthcare startups and private providers. In Kenya, Zuri Health’s all-in-one platform provides consultations, pharmacy services, and home-based testing, lowering the cost of finding a doctor and aggregating quality healthcare services at a reasonable price. Wellahealth, a Nigerian startup, offers micro health insurance for high-occurrence diseases such as malaria in partnerships with pharmacies across the country. “In Nigeria, pharmacies play an outsized role in the healthcare system as a first point of care because many Nigerians self-diagnose and self-medicate,” Aladejana says. “We should not ignore any possible solution and crowd in locally-driven innovation wherever possible.
  • Keep reading,Let’s retain talent and crowd in investment in healthcare innovation in Africa,” by Ayotunde Aladejana on ImpactAlpha. Catch up on all of ImpactAlpha’s coverage of Investing in Health, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures.

Dealflow: Muni Impact

$57 million green bond in San Francisco to fund water sustainability. Back in 2016, San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission was the first issuer with a certified green bond under the Climate Bonds Water Criteria. Since then, the SFPUC has been one of the largest green bond issuers in the US, with over $3 billion in financing for climate change mitigation or adaptation projects. The city’s latest green bond, set to be issued today, is a $57 million issue to refund prior water revenue bonds issued by the authority and renew funding for outstanding indebtedness. “San Francisco continues to innovate and lead on environmental initiatives,” writes Stella Yao of HIP Investor, which gives the utility a 85.4% rating out of 100. ImpactAlpha is featuring the issuance as part of our partnership with HIP Investor to highlight bond issues with social and/or environmental significance. 

  • Community benefits. Projects refinanced by the bond will improve water supply and drought protection while prioritizing protection of the natural environment and the well-being of communities. The SFPUC is the first utility in the nation to adopt environmental justice and community benefits policies. In SF’s lower-income Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, for example, the SFPUC collaborates with local residents to ensure that new facilities incorporate their feedback and insights. 
  • Go deeper.

Matter raises $10 million to filter out microplastics on an industrial scale. As a mechanical engineer at Dyson, Adam Root had an idea for a washing machine filter to screen out microplastics that shed from synthetic clothing and make their way into waterways and, eventually, our bodies. He raised seed funding as well as £133,450 ($170,000) last fall from more than 1,000 individuals via a Kickstarter campaign. Less than a year later, Root’s startup Matter has attracted $10 million from investors including S2G Ventures, SOUNDWaves and the investment arms of Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher.

  • Consumer impact. The UK-based company is expanding into industrial applications, including “wastewater treatment, textiles and so on, where we see large volumes of impact,” Root told TechCrunch. “It’s important to hit both ends of the scale. Don’t underestimate the impact at the consumer level.”
  • Come clean.

Dealflow overflow. Other news crossing our desks:

  • US government-backed Prosper Africa backed four fund managers through its Prosper Africa Catalytic Investment Facility: Enko Africa Private Equity Fund, EG-Economic Empowerment Fund, Kuramo Capital, and BFA Global’s Catalyst Fund. (Prosper Africa)
  • Japanese investment firm Itochu and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank are partnering on a $2 billion renewable energy fund for investments in North America. (Infrastructure Investor)
  • San Francisco-based Treehouse raised $10 million from automotive venture funds to sell electric vehicle home-charging stations via EV dealers. (Gutter Capital)

Signals: Carbon Sinks

Revived South American alliance takes steps to protect Amazon forests and communities. There was no grand pledge to halt deforestation, as Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had urged. Nor was there an agreement to end oil exploration, as Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro lobbied for. But the eight Amazonian nations gathered in Belém, Brazil did set out a common agenda for protecting the vast tropical forest they share. Convened by Lula, the members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty look to flex their collective muscle and win concessions from wealthy nations at the COP28 climate summit later this year. “The Amazon is drastically threatened,” Brazil’s environment minister Marina Silva said to start the summit. “It will be impossible to reverse this process if we work in isolation.”

  • Indigenous knowledge. The absence of a region-wide pledge to end deforestation by 2030 denies “the real value and importance of the Amazon to Amazonians and the rest of the world,” Ane Alencar with the Amazon Environmental Research Institute told ImpactAlpha. She points to other wins in the group’s joint declaration, including acknowledgements of indigenous rights, the role of science and the cooperation of regional banks on sustainable development. “The engagement and recognition of traditional knowledge and the importance of traditional people in thinking about the future of the region is crucial,” she said.
  • Market support. A group of South American development banks launched the Green Coalition to provide funding and technical assistance to build a pipeline of climate-smart initiatives to create green jobs. A cornerstone of the program is the $900 million Pro-Amazônia program to support micro and small businesses. The group, led by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Brazilian Development Bank, will also create new blended finance offerings and guarantees to attract private capital.
  • Tipping point. Lula has made protecting the rainforest and its communities a centerpiece of his agenda. Brazil has reduced deforestation rates by a third in the first half of the year, according to satellite data, reversing the destructive pace of logging under his predecessor Javier Bolsanaro. The Amazon, a tropical rainforest the size of India and home to some 50 million Indigenous people, is one of the planet’s most vital carbon sinks. With 17% of the vast forest already razed to make way for agriculture, mining and other development, the forest could reach a tipping point if another 5% or so of the forest disappears, scientists warn. 
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Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Expand your team. CASE at Duke’s annual call for impact investing clients for the CASE i3 student consulting program is open through Aug. 28. “The program is a huge bang for the buck,” Duke’s Cathy Clark told ImpactAlpha. Past clients include Bain Double Impact, Tideline, Self-Help and Fidelity Charitable. For more than 400 hours of work, clients pay an engagement fee of $1,000 to 5,000. “A recent client estimated the value provided by her student team at over $200K,” Clark says.

Joe Indvik, ex-of RE Tech Advisors, joins Ares Management in the new position of climate strategy lead… Amy Zhao, who first worked with Clean Energy Ventures as an Impact Capital Managers MOSAIC Fellow, joins the firm as an investor… Founders First Capital Partners is hiring a chief credit officer in San Diego… Opportunity Finance Network seeks a senior investment officer of climate and green lending programs.

Rochdale Capital is looking for a loan officer… New Majority Capital seeks a business advisor in Atlanta… Stanford Social Innovation Review is recruiting an editor-in-chief… Solstice is hosting “Lessons in low-income inclusion for community solar projects,” today at 12pm ET… Morgan Lewis is hosting “Fearless in the wake of Harvard/UNC: The future of impact investing or private contracting with a racial lens,” today at 12:30 ET.

Thank you for your impact.

– Aug 10, 2023