The Brief | August 26, 2019

The Brief: Policy wonks pipe up, Palladium’s impact fund, sensors for seniors, vetting vegan veracity

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact!

ImpactAlpha Series: What’s Next

Nine policy wonks on how to catalyze private capital for public good. Impact investing is among the last of a vanishing species: a bipartisan issue. In the U.S., some of the few legislative achievements of the last several years have moved the ball forward on capital for low-income communities, enhanced global development-financing authority and new structures for entrepreneurs raising early-stage investments. SpecificallyOpportunity Zonetax incentives for investments in low income communities; the BUILD Actmodernizing the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp.; and the JOBS Actback in 2012, which eventually jumpstarted equity crowdfunding. All received support from both parties. As ImpactAlpha has long argued, building businesses that boost livelihoods, build communities and restore the environment is a parade any politician should jump in front of.

What’s next? Agents of Impact are brimming with ideas for policies to catalyze impact investing, judging from the strong response to ImpactAlpha’s call for suggestions as part of our What’s Next series with the Global Impact Investing NetworkFran Seegull of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance says adapting accountability practices from community can “promote better outcomes for investors and communities alike.” OPIC’s Lara Driscoe looks forward to new tools and a doubled mandate (to $60 billion) for the new U.S. International Development Finance Corp. Investibule’s Arno Hesse and Amy Cortese (an ImpactAlpha contributor) point to crowdfunding improvements in a JOBS Act 2.0. Other suggestions:

  • Encourage impact investing at foundations by taxing non-impact earnings (Social Capital Partners’ Bill Young).
  • Take advantage of Qualified Small Business Stock tax incentives (Angel Span’s Joe Milam).
  • Use public grants as ‘research and development’ capital (Conservation Finance Network’s Allegra Wrocklage).
  • Back policy ownership with political capital (Impact Strategist’s Rosemary Addis).
  • Matching efforts. Public policies “can only be successful if such policies are implemented with matching efforts in education and ecosystem-building,” reminds Luc Lapointe of TheBC.lab in Colombia.

Read the full list of policy suggestions in, “Nine policy wonks on how to catalyze private capital for public good,” on ImpactAlpha.

  • Take a spin through other What’s Next series topics, including identity and talent.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Palladium makes two investments in Africa from its first impact fund. The global consulting firm, which has advised impact initiatives for decades, launched its own fund to move more capital. The fund’s first two investments are in Naasakle, a woman-owned shea nut harvesting business in Ghana, and off-grid solar company PEG Africa. Palladium Impact Fund I will make investments of up to $2 million in small businesses in clean energy and agriculture, two sectors that have an outsized impact on women. Palladium is targeting $40 million for the fund, which it seeded with $5 million of its own capital. Development finance institutions often anchor impact funds in Africa, but Palladium hopes also to attract foundations, family offices, pension funds, and institutional investors. Palladium’s goal is to impact 500,000 rural households and create 3,500 jobs in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. Dig in.

CARU snags €2.4 million for voice-command home sensors for seniors. Europe’s aging population is attracting tech startups with ideas for making it easier for people to maintain dignity and independence. Swiss “age tech” startup CARU makes voice-controlled sensors for assisted care facilities. Susanne Dröscher launched CARU in 2017 to foster “safety, autonomy, and social inclusion” by helping nursing staff keep tabs on residents, and for residents to use voice commands to call for assistance or set alarms and reminders. Europe’s AAL innovation program for products and services designed for the elderly, committed €2.4 million ($2.7 million) to support CARU’s product for independent residences. Last month, Germany’s Seniovoraised €2 million in funding for its platform connecting seniors to grants and providers of aging-friendly home renovations. Check it out.

Vegan products review site Abillionveg raises $2 million. The swell of plant-based food and consumer products means consumers need to find and share information about them more easily. Singapore-based Abillionveg claims to have 50,000 reviews on its site for products and foods in Singapore, Canada, the U.K., Hong Kong, and the U.S. Founder Vikas Garg advocates for veganism as well as informed and sustainable consumption more generally. “It’s about raising awareness around these issues and catalyzing a movement, one which we think will be the biggest trend in sustainability in the next 20 years,” Garg said in an interview with Reuters. The Singapore-based company secured funding from 500 startupsCalibre VenturesBlue Horizon Group1/0 Capital, and U.S. and Asia-based family offices. The startup activity signals awareness that once-fringe veganism is a growing part of the sustainability-minded consumer market. More.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Shobana Mani joins Upstart CoLab as a partner… Triodos is looking for an investment process manager in Zeist, the Netherlands… Open Road Allianceis hiring a director of communications in New York, Washington DC or Seattle… Australian real estate group Mirvac and INCO, a network of environmental and social start-ups, launch The Impact Accelerator for entrepreneurs solving sustainably challenges in urban real estate.

Thank you for reading. 

– Aug. 26, 2019