The Brief | March 26, 2024

The Brief: Ownership and wealth-building in The Great Deployment

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Greetings Agents of Impact! 

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In today’s Brief:

  • The Great Deployment can build ownership and wealth, too
  • Building efficient heat pumps
  • Introducing the ImpactAlpha Podcast Network

Featured: Deploy!

Wealth-building and community ownership in the next stage of The Great Deployment. Later this year, solar panels will be installed on the roof of the World War I-era Brooklyn Army Terminal. Like thousands of emerging green projects across the country, the community solar project is poised to benefit from federal climate funding. The upgrade to the former military hub on the gritty waterfront in largely Hispanic, working-class neighborhood of Sunset Park could seem just another sign of the neighborhood’s rapid gentrification. But there’s a twist: the 725-kilowatt project is spearheaded and co-owned by UPROSE, a local group that will reinvest revenues in green jobs and climate justice initiatives. For a lot of “these kinds of community-based projects – it’s flipping the power relationship,” says Bracken Hendricks of Working Power in Washington, DC, which is looking to seed a pipeline of local, green projects co-owned by communities that are ready to tap the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (for background, see last week’s Agents of Impact Call). Working Power, which is extending a $2.6 million loan to cover development costs on the Sunset Park project, is working with UPROSE and other community partners to ensure local ownership in the coming wave of green, community-scale projects.

  • Pre-development. Working Power honed its community ownership model with $5.3 million in program-related and other investments from Ceniarth, the Kresge and Sierra Club foundations and other funders to support pre-development of community projects. It is looking to raise a $50 million second fund to scale the concept and provide vetted, standardized and pooled investment opportunities for mission-related investors. Laurene Powell Jobs’ Waverley Street Foundation anchored the fund with $5 million and matching funds to crowd in additional investors. “We’re in a moment where there is huge interest from the capital markets in investing in scaled pools of justice-centered clean energy,” says Hendricks. 
  • Local wealth. Sharing the wealth of the energy transition was a concern at the Aspen Institute’s recent climate festival in Miami. Inclusive ownership and economic opportunities can make the climate infrastructure buildout “a powerful force multiplier for inclusive wealth creation,” Aspen’s Ida Rademacher tells ImpactAlpha. BlocPower’s Donnel Baird envisions a “new ownership model” where worker-owned companies electrify buildings, raising asset values for diverse, working-class homeowners. “A lot of people are focused on grants and jobs,” Baird says. “Not enough people are focused on how to make sure those grants and jobs translate to ownership.”
  • Keep reading,Wealth-building and community ownership in the next stage of The Great Deployment,” by Amy Cortese on ImpactAlpha. 

Dealflow: Clean Tech

Evari raises $7.5 million to build more efficient heat pumps. More than 100 million households globally use heat pumps, which are gaining popularity as a more sustainable alternative for heating and cooling. Most heat pumps use energy-intensive compressors with harmful synthetic refrigerants. New Hampshire-based Evari has developed a pocket-sized, oil-free turbocompressor, which the company says can be 50% more energy-efficient and cheaper to manufacture. Evari’s turbocompressor uses natural refrigerants, such as ammonia, carbon, hydrocarbon, water and air. Evari’s approach “can cut gigatons of carbon in the coming years by improving efficiency, eliminating polluting refrigerants, and advancing the electrification era,” said Temple Fennell of Clean Energy Ventures, which led Evari’s seed financing round.

  • Path to commercialization. The capital will help Evari chart a path to commercialization. “Over the next two years, we’ll be building one-off units for customer demonstrations. In three years, we’ll be ready for low-volume production,” Evari’s Jonathan Bass told ImpactAlpha. Evari’s turbocompressor can address cooling and heating applications in mobility, industrial heating and aerospace engineering, Bass said. Evari has a goal to mitigate 2.5 gigatons of CO2-equivalent by 2050.
  • Check it out

Nsave secures $4 million to democratize Swiss offshore accounts. Amer Baroudi from Syria and Abdallah AbuHashem from Gaza launched Nsave to give people from countries with high inflation, political instability and poor security a safe haven for their money. UK-based Nsave’s fintech license in Switzerland allows people from distressed countries to open a simple savings account using stable currencies like dollars, euros and pounds. An account costs $69 per year and includes a virtual and physical Mastercard. Nsave’s seed round was backed by Sequoia Capital, TQ Ventures, Y Combinator, Geneva’s startup innovation fund FONGIT and other investors.

  • Wealth security. Baroudi recounts having to travel with cash “literally strapped” to his body. “There are 700 million people globally who don’t have access to safe banking purely because of their origin,” he said. “Unfortunately, when you come from a distressed country, banks label you as a ‘high-risk’ client and, in most cases, refuse to provide banking services.” Only people from a list of distressed countries are eligible for Nsave accounts. The company says its risk assessment process complies with Switzerland’s stringent anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance laws. “Where you come from is actually not the risk factor,” Baroudi told TechCrunch.
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Dealflow overflow. Investment news crossing our desks:

  • Morgan Stanley’s asset management group is rolling out a $1 billion fund to invest in energy transition infrastructure. (Bloomberg)
  • Germany’s Novocarbo secured €25 million ($27.2 million) from SWEN Capital Partners to expand its network of “carbon removal parks” that use agriculture and other organic waste streams to produce a supply of heat for companies and utilities, and biochar for soil regeneration. (Novocarbo)
  • Peru’s Leasy raised $28 million in a mix of debt and equity to provide vehicle financing so ride hailing drivers in Peru and Mexico can acquire vehicles. (Forbes)

Podcasts: Returns on Inclusion

Welcome to the ImpactAlpha Podcast Network. ImpactAlpha podcasts are back! Last week, we brought back our roundup and commentary on ImpactAlpha’s reporting, This Week in Impact. Now, we’re pleased to share our revamped interview show, Agents of Impact, hosted by David Bank and Sherrell Dorsey, founder of The Plug, who has joined ImpactAlpha as a contributing editor. And ImpactAlpha has begun curating even more shows hosted and produced by leading voices in impact and sustainable investing on the all-new ImpactAlpha Podcast Network. Drop us a note to talk about distributing your impact podcast.

  • Agents of Impact: Lenore Champagne Beirne. Dorsey speaks with Beirne, who founded Bright Ventures as a strategic advisory and executive coaching service before adding a fund for early stage ventures. In addition to capital, Beirne aims to build an inclusive economy through community and coaching. Listen to this week’s episode. And subscribe to ImpactAlpha’s podcasts on Apple or Spotify to get every new episode in your podcast feed.
  • Impact(ed): CDFIs and equitable community lending. Community development financial institutions and other local lenders support economic opportunity in low and moderate-income communities across the country. Jocelyn Velazquez of Illinois Facilities Fund and Ana Ramos of Common Future join Impact(ed) hosts Lucas Turner-Owens and Eric Horvath to reflect on their personal journeys and how they’re pushing the boundaries of equitable community lending. Impact(ed) is part of the ImpactAlpha Podcast Network. Get the latest episode on ImpactAlpha, Spotify, Apple or wherever you listen.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Electoral reform nonprofit FairVote appoints Meredith Sumpter, former head of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, as president and CEO… Devin Chesney becomes interim executive director of Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, replacing Richenda van Leeuwen, who is on extended leave, and Kyle Newell, who has departed the organization. 

Pivotal Ventures seeks a program strategy senior director… The Decolonizing Wealth Project is recruiting a finance and operations director… Social Finance is hiring an impact investment associate director in Boston or San Francisco… The Generation Foundation is looking for two associates to focus on nature and climate grantmaking… The Public Finance Initiative will host a webinar on measuring changes in racial equity in municipal investments, Wednesday, March 27. 

👉 View (or post) impact investing jobs on ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub.

Thank you for your impact!

– March 26, 2024