The Brief | November 10, 2022

The Brief: Impact: the video game, emerging markets’ energy transition, regenerative ranching, telemedicine in India, Web3 for climate impact

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Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

🎮 Impact: The video game. ImpactAlpha has partnered with E-Line Media and Ford Foundation to explore the potential of a mobile social game aimed at Millennial and Gen Z retail investors, now in their teens, 20s and 30s. Help us flesh out the intriguing possibilities in this brief survey

👋 Muni impact. Investors looking for scalable impact and low-risk, high-liquidity investments are looking to the $4 trillion municipal bond market. Next week’s Agents of Impact Call will go inside the muni market with the investors, issuers and other market shapers that are optimizing bond issues for impact, ESG and racial justice. Join us Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

Featured: COP Watch

Financing the energy transition in emerging markets. On COP27’s “finance day,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, the Rockefeller Foundation and Bezos Earth Fund laid out plans for an Energy Transition Accelerator to help finance the transition to clean energy in emerging markets. With public money tight, the accelerator aims to generate revenues for state and national governments that verifiably reduce emissions. Decommissioning coal plants or building clean energy projects would create carbon credits for sale to corporations, including through advanced purchase agreements. On hand to support the announcement were representatives from Nigeria and Chile, along with Microsoft, PepsiCo and other companies. The Energy Transition Accelerator can unlock “the true potential of carbon markets to scale resources needed for clean energy transitions,” said Rockefeller’s Raj Shah. “The world must come together in new ways.” Share this

  • Loss and damages. Just days after negotiators at the “African COP” agreed to take up “loss and damages,” some European nations are pledging to help vulnerable communities deal with the effects of climate disasters. Scotland kicked off the race with $7 million, followed by Denmark, Ireland, Austria and Belgium. Germany ponied up €170 million. It took a group of 85 African insurers to commit a multi-billion-dollar sum. Loss and damages have been “an orphan child for a long time,” said Namibian youth activist Deon Shekuza. Weary of unkept promises, many Africans remain skeptical, reports Akintunde Babatunde from Sharm El-Sheikh. Read Babatunde’s COP27 dispatch.
  • Blended climate finance. Climate finance has been dominated by debt financing, with inadequate focus on hybrid and blended forms of capital, argues Gillian Marcelle of Resilience Capital Ventures. In a guest post, Marcelle highlights innovative climate financiers such as Triodos, CAMCO and British International Investment, and initiatives including the Loss and Damage Finance Facility of the Alliance of Small Island States and the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainable Trust. Marcelle is working with the government of the Bahamas to develop a sustainable investment facility to leverage nature-based financing and blue carbon.The West Indies archipelago was hammered this week by tropical storm Nicole. “Our approach challenges the notion that developing countries should have less access to, and pay a higher price for, financial capital because of an increase in systemic risk that they did not cause on their own,” writes Marcelle. Read Marcelle’s future-forward agenda” for COP27.

Dealflow: Regenerative Ag

Radical Ventures plants $9 million in seed funding for ranch management. Billings, Mont.-based Enriched Ag uses machine-learning to help ranchers in the U.S. reduce emissions, improve soil health and generate revenues from carbon credits. Cattle farming makes an outsized contribution to greenhouse gas production. Enriched Ag says its tools can help ranchers better adapt to and mitigate climate change by capturing more carbon. “The right grazing programs can go a long way to mitigating the methane produced from cattle,” Enriched Ag’s Billy Cook told ImpactAlpha. By sequestering more carbon, “we can create more resilient soils through better soil health,” he said.

  • Data-driven. Enriched is working with 14 ranches covering 135,000 acres in seven states to gather data to predict the impact of different ranching strategies on land productivity and health. The seed investment from AI-focused venture firm Radical Ventures will help Enriched scale up its work with ranches and deepen its data. Radical’s investment follows a pre-seed investment from Future Ventures.
  • Rewarding stewards. Enriched Ag aims to help ranchers develop revenues from carbon credits. “Many producers have done yeoman’s work to stay afloat,” Cook said. “If I can improve efficiency, increase production, show them a new revenue stream from ecosystem service credits, they’re going to be keenly interested.” The current carbon trading system is not working for ranchers, he says. “We have to find a way for really good land stewards to continue to manage this land over time.”
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Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Bezos Earth Fund committed $50 million in philanthropic capital to a planned $2 billion blended finance fund for locally-led environmental restoration in Africa.
  • Essex Pension Fund made a £100 million ($114 million) commitment to the Stafford Carbon Offset Opportunity Fund to develop commercial timberland plantations and restore natural forests.
  • SolarSquare snagged $12.2 million in Series A funding led by Elevation and Lowercarbon Capital for rooftop residential solar in India.
  • Audette secured $9.5 million in a seed round backed by Energy Impact Partners and Active Impact Investments to decarbonize real estate.
  • CureBay raised $6.1 million in Series A funding led by Elevar Equity to enable access to telemedicine in India’s rural areas.
  • WorkTorch (formerly QuickHire), a Black women-owned recruiting and retention platform for service industry employees, scored $2.2 million in seed financing.

Impact Voices: Web3 for Climate

How Web3 can shift power to the climate-vulnerable. Blockchain and “Web3” technologies can put climate project ownership in the hands of users rather than third parties. “By empowering local actors to guide decision-making, Web3 technologies can drastically improve the global coordination needed to tackle the climate crisis,” Scott Onder at Mercy Corps writes in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. The open-source, decentralized nature of public blockchains enables applications tailored to the needs of unbanked and climate-vulnerable populations, without requiring permission from tech giants or incumbent financial institutions, Onder argues. Mercy Corps’ impact fund has been investing in Web3 projects since 2018 to test virtual solutions to real-world problems.

  • Proof points. Mercy Corps worked with ACRE Africa to test Web3-enhanced insurance that combines real-time meteorological data with mobile payments. The pilot slashed payout times to minutes instead of weeks and enabled a 27% increase in coverage amounts for smallholder farmers compared to the previous season. Other solutions: blockchain-enabled supply chain traceability (Topl), carbon removal verification for forest projects (Open Forest Protocol), projects such as Toucan, Regen Network, Nori and Flowcarbon that are tokenizing carbon credits and bringing voluntary carbon markets on-chain (for background, see “Building and musing about blockchain-based regenerative finance in Medellin”).
  • Keep reading, “How Web3 can shift power to the climate-vulnerable,” by Mercy Corps’ Scott Onder.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Daniel Hanna, ex- of Standard Chartered, joins Barclays’ corporate and investment bank division in London as global head of sustainable finance… Lori Butler, ex- of Carrier Corp., joins Clayton, Dubilier & Rice as director of environmental stewardship… Kiva seeks a remote vice president of business development.

ECMC Group’s education impact fund is recruiting a remote impact investment associate in Minnesota… The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks a chief investment officer, an assistant vice president for policy, and a senior program officer for equity and social justice partnerships…  GIIN is hiring a director for its investors’ council and leadership initiatives in New York.

Harvard Business School is looking for an impact investing and sustainability associate in Boston… Rockefeller Capital Management is looking for an investment client portfolio manager in New York… Contentful seeks a director of community impact in Denver… Tides is recruiting a remote chief financial officer… Accion is looking for an undergraduate legal intern.

Devex will host an event from COP27 featuring Eric Berlow of Vibrant Data Labs, who will present a global version of the Climate Finance Tracker today. Register for the livestream (recording available Nov. 11)… Also today, Integrated Capital Investing will host a two-hour virtual event for accredited investors to hear pitches from 25 equity and justice-lens funds raising capital now… VC Include’s INCLUDE Conference will take place tomorrow in Berkeley, Calif.

Thank you for your impact!

– Nov. 10, 2022