TGIF, Agents of Impact! You deserve a break. And we do, too. ImpactAlpha is OoO next week (we’ve scheduled a few special treats to tide you over). The Brief will be back in your inbox on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Happy holidays to all!
🗣 A way forward. “Americans will always do the right thing, after they have tried everything else,” as Winston Churchill (may have) once said. From cutting carbon to raising wages to narrowing income inequality, the emerging narrative may be: We can do this. “What’s different this year,” Amy Cortese writes in ImpactAlpha’s climate finance lookahead, “is the palpable sense that a dramatic mobilization to make a back-loaded run at meeting climate and development goals remains possible, even at this late date.” Low-carbon solutions “will win because they’re cheaper, better, faster, stronger, simpler and just plain cooler,” investor Chris Sacca likes to say. Likewise, inclusive and equitable economic models will take hold because they expand access to affordable housing, sustainable food, quality healthcare, education and good jobs. The market dynamics are familiar to impact and sustainable investors, who for decades have been honing practices to expand the supply and drive down the cost of goods and services that people need and want. “Such strategies can help execute a ‘soft landing’ of fighting inflation without triggering a recession,” as Dennis Price writes in his inclusive economy lookahead. Indeed, UBS’s Jason Draho nominated “disinflation” as Word of the Year, arguing, “It’s already happening, and the consumer price index is likely to continue falling rapidly in the first part of 2023.”
Among Agents of Impact on this week’s Call, the winning word was “abundance,” reflecting a palpable desire to escape scarcity-driven, zero-sum and inherently divisive storylines. The runners-up trended in the same direction: “ownership,” in the sense of both shared prosperity and active stewardship; “resilience” to persist and flourish in the face of obstacles; and “community,” a stand-in for empathy and collaboration. In countries where global funding is scarce, “Local fund managers, entrepreneurs and political leaders are not waiting on international development finance institutions from wealthy countries to plug the financing gap,” Jessica Pothering writes in her emerging markets lookahead. “Instead, they’re rallying local investors, building local ecosystems and crafting local policies for long-term sustainable economic development.” In the U.S., policy breakthroughs – from chips to infrastructure to climate – are showing up locally as well, from semiconductor plants in Syracuse and Columbus to robotics in Pittsburgh, biotech in Oklahoma, and agtech in Fresno.
It may have been wishful thinking that capital markets would lead the way to the sustainable, inclusive and, yes, abundant future. But with policy leadership and catalytic capital, private investors are demonstrably happy to follow. Rising risks of climate catastrophe and social upheaval spurred many investors to hedge their bets with low-carbon indexes and ESG funds, but most “have not yet bet the company (or portfolio or endowment) on systemic reform and transformational change,” I wrote in my own lookahead to the shift from ESG to impact. “In 2023 and beyond, that straddle will become harder to manage.” To invert an old saying, lifting all boats creates a rising tide. As the abundance agenda creates its own political and economic momentum, corporations and asset owners will want to make sure they’re on board. Workers, customers and communities can hold them accountable. Abundance, writes The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, may be “the best means to achieve the ends that we care about: more comfortable lives, with more power to do what we want, with more time devoted to what we love.” And with that, from the whole team at ImpactAlpha, good tidings of great joy. – David Bank
The Week’s Dealflow
Circular economy. Closed Loop Partners provided a $5 million loan to the Waste Commission of Scott County in Iowa… Toast Ale, a London-based brewery that repurposes leftover bakery bread, raised £2 million from the National Geographic Society and other investors.
Clean energy. Commerz Real’s Klimavest invested in five solar development projects in Sweden… Enpal, a German residential rooftop solar startup, raked in €855 million in debt funding… South Africa’s Standard Bank closed a $750 million sustainability-linked loan to finance clean energy and social impact-focused projects in Africa… The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board invested in San Francisco-based energy efficiency-as-a-service provider Redaptive.
Climate finance. General Atlantic’s BeyondNetZero mobilized a $3.5 billion climate fund… Kodama Systems raised $6.6 million in seed funding for forest restoration projects… Climate-data startup Arcadia raised $125 million.
Climate tech. Collaborative Fund raised $200 million fund for materials, ingredients, energy and supply chains… More than 100 investors backed Jetstream, a $10 million fund led by investor Tommy Leep that invests in pre-seed, mostly software climate-tech startups… Seattle-based Group14 Technologies raked in $214 million to commercialize silicon batteries.
Economic inclusion. Aquaconnect scored $15 million in Series A financing to extend its network of smallholder aquaculture farmers in India… Bangalore-based Betterplace raised $40 million to expand its blue-collar workforce management platform… Cote d’Ivoire’s Afrique Phyto Plus secured €5.5 million in mezzanine finance from AgDevCo to provide seeds and inputs to smallholder farmers.
Financial inclusion. Aviva snagged $2.2 million in pre-seed funding to deploy working capital to businesses in underserved communities in Mexico… Chilean fintech venture Kredito raised $6 million to finance small businesses… The Clarmondial-advised Food Securities Fund renewed two working capital loans to agriculture companies in East and West Africa.
Low-carbon transition. Paris-based Everimpact scored €1.7 million to help municipalities and organizations measure and lower their carbon emissions… Shopify’s Sustainability Fund backed six carbon removal startups… Svante, a Vancouver-based developer of at-source carbon capture technology, raised $318 million.
Returns on inclusion. Elizabeth Park Capital Management and Calvert Impact were selected to co-manage the Mission Driven Bank Fund to invest in minority depository institutions and community development financial institutions.
The Week’s Talent
Dana Bezerra, who joined the Heron Foundation in 2006 and has served as the foundation’s president since 2017, will depart the foundation at the end of 2022 to join Greater Share as CEO… Microsoft named Melanie Nakagawa, former special assistant to U.S. President Joe Biden and climate and energy expert on the National Security Council, as its chief sustainability officer.
Florida Housing Coalition named its chief programs officer Ashton Nesbitt as its new CEO… Common Future’s Rodney Foxworth, Vanessa Roanhorse of Roanhorse Consulting, Mekaelia Davis of Ballmer Group, Mahlet Getachew of PolicyLink, and TIIP’s William Burckart and Monique Aiken, an ImpactAlpha contributing editor, are among 21 industry leaders joining The Investment Integration Project’s racial equity working group.
The Week’s Jobs
IREX is recruiting a strategic partnerships director in Washington, D.C… ECMC Group’s Education Impact Fund seeks an impact investing associate in Minnesota… Pacific Community Ventures is hiring a policy counsel and manager in Oakland… Trust Neighborhoods has an opening for an operations manager in Kansas City, Mo… The Meridian Institute is recruiting a project associate and fellows based in Dillon, Colo. or Washington, D.C.
RH Capital is recruiting a fund operations specialist in Boston or San Francisco… Rivian has an opening for a sustainability and impact reporting senior manager in New York… Ford Foundation seeks a program officer in New York… Social Finance seeks an impact investments director in Boston… University of Utah’s Sorenson Impact Center has openings for a partnerships director and a student program director… Terraformation is recruiting a carbon certification specialist in the U.S. or Europe… UT Austin is hiring a director of global leadership and social impact.
The Global Development Incubator is looking for two country deal managers for its Resilient Water Accelerator based in Bangladesh and Nigeria… Instiglio is looking for a project director in Bogotá… Convergence is looking to fill several positions, including a manager for a catalytic climate finance facility, and data and intelligence content senior associate… Roots of Impact is recruiting an associate and a senior associate… The Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures seeks a chief operating officer.
BlueMark is looking for a marketing director… Common Future is looking for a community director… Creative Commons is looking for a manager of open climate data… The Hammond Climate Solutions Foundation is hiring a part-time climate change intern… The Decolonizing Wealth Project has an opening for a vice president and a director of communications.
BerlinRosen is hiring an account supervisor for global social and economic impact… Catalyst seeks a director of labor for the future of work… Mercy Corp Ventures seeks a financial systems consultant… The University of Zurich’s Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth is looking for a managing director for the North American region.
Jobs for the Future is looking for a vice president for its apprenticeship and work-based learning program… RSF Social Finance is looking for a loan and investment operations director… The Union of Concerned Scientists is hiring a managing director for its climate and energy program… Chemonics International is recruiting a senior specialist of climate finance.
That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful week.
– Dec 23, 2022