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The Brief: Raising impact voices, democratizing 401(k)s, MacKenzie Scott’s gift list, securing medical supplies, hybrid meat, from gender lens to gender justice



Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

Featured: The Impact Alpha

Raising the voices of impact investors in the November election. The daily outrages consume Twitter. Within the impact investing bubble, you might not even know there is an election coming up. With less than a hundred days to Nov. 3, it’s time to break out, writes David Bank in his latest column. “That impact investing is different things to different people has made it fertile ground for collaboration and innovation, and a great beat,” he says. “So while we’re not keen on bringing politics into impact investing, it would seem a dereliction of ImpactAlpha’s duty not to bring an impact investing lens to U.S. politics as we do with other systemic factors.” What score would the Trump administration receive if presidencies were assessed on environmental, social and governance, or ESG, factors? As ImpactAlpha wrote earlier this month, “The Trump administration has itself become a systemic risk.”

Keep reading, “Raising the voices of impact investors in the November election,” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha.

  • Hop on The Call. Today’s Agents of Impact Call No. 21 will explore the responsibilities of impact investors in this fall’s U.S. election and beyond. Join Beeck Center’s Sonal Shah, Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Antony Bugg-Levine, Blue Haven Initiative’s Liesel Pritzker and i(x) investment’s Trevor Neilson in a provocative conversation with David Bank and Monique Aiken, today at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. Zoom right in.
  • Keep the conversation going. Share your thoughts before, during or after today’s call on ImpactAlpha’s #Agents-of-Impact Slack channel. Not yet on Slack? Sign up and click “channel browser” in the left column.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Generation backs Guideline’s 401(k) plans for small businesses. Guideline launched five years ago to develop low-cost, subscription-based retirement plans for small businesses and their employees. The company says it manages $2.5 billion for 13,000 businesses. Generation Investment Management backed Guideline’s $80 million Series D round as part of a series of investments in the future of work (see, Generation Q&A: How the pandemic strengthens the case for sustainable investing). Greyhound Capital co-led the round.

  • Accessibility… Guideline touts the accessibility of its subscription-based service to small businesses, which are overlooked by traditional 401(k) providers using asset-based fee models. Generation’s Shalini Rao called it a “market failure” that Guideline is addressing. 
  • …Over sustainability. Guideline offers only two ESG funds, and only to plan participants who self-direct their investments. One of the ESG funds, Vanguard’s VFTAX, is Guideline’s most widely used fund, a spokeswoman for the company told ImpactAlpha
  • More

MacKenzie Scott’s $1.7 billion gift list includes LISC and other impact investors. Scott, who divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos last year, extended a $40 million unrestricted grant to Local Initiative Support Corp., making her the community development financial institution’s largest single donor. Scott has also supported Camelback Ventures, Capital Impact Partners, Echoing Green, Grameen America, Low Income Investment Fund, One Acre Fund, Opportunity Fund, and The Nature Conservancy’s “blue bonds” initiative among other impact investing organizations. 

  • Racial equity. Scott, ranked No. 22 on some lists of the world’s richest people, has signed the Giving Pledge (unlike Bezos), committing to give away the majority of her wealth. She has so far given away $1.7 billion, including nearly $600 million to organizations advancing racial equity. 
  • Check it out

IFC earmarks $2 billion to help emerging markets secure medical supplies. The Global Health Platform will finance healthcare product manufacturers, suppliers and raw materials providers to help meet COVID healthcare needs in emerging markets. International Finance Corp. is looking to secure another $2 billion in commitments from private investors. 

The Better Meat Co. secures $8.1 million to expand ‘hybrid meat.’ The Sacramento, Calif.-based company aims to reduce global meat consumption (and its environmental footprint) with high-protein, plant-based ingredients that food companies can combine with ground meat. Customers include poultry giant Perdue. Greenlight Capital, Green Circle Capital, Lever VC and U.S. sausage producer Johnsonville backed the company’s seed round.

Weather forecasting company ClimaCell secures $23 million. The Boston-based company produces hyper-local weather reports using data from cellular towers and connected devices. Companies and other organizations use the reports to anticipate weather impacts and disruptions. The Series C round was led by Pitango Venture Capital and Square Peg Capital.

Impact Voices: Pass the Mic

CARE’s new impact fund moves from gender lens to ‘gender justice.’ Early gender-lens investment approaches focused primarily on investing in women-led businesses or companies with women in senior leadership roles. Gender-smart investors are working to create broader and deeper impact for women across the value chain. Global nonprofit CARE is building on its 75-year history of addressing structural inequality to pursue a “gender justice” strategy. The CARE-SheTrades Impact Fund, a South and Southeast Asia fund, was launched in April with Bamboo Capital Partners and International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Initiative. “The global impact community must consider what more it can do to achieve critical structural change,” write CARE Enterprise’s Ayesha Khanna and Virginia Schippers, along with Doris Bartel, the former head of CARE’s gender justice team, in a guest post on ImpactAlpha

  • Four principles. The plan: Address unconscious bias at investee companies with unconscious bias training. Provide technical assistance to ensure women’s input is integrated into company decisions. Work with companies to address implicit and explicit inequities in how products and services are marketed and delivered. And deploy an impact carry structure that ties half the fund manager’s carried interest to achieving gender impact goals.
  • Catalytic capital. CARE has committed $10 million to the fund, with at least $5 million in first-loss capital, and raised more from institutional investors with support from international development agencies. The target: $75 million. 
  • Keep reading. Beyond gender-lens: CARE’s new impact fund opts for ‘gender justice’,” by Virginia Schippers, Ayesha Khanna and Doris Bartel on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Cliff Worley, ex- of Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, joins Kapor Capital as senior director of portfolio growth marketing… The Global Impact Investing Network adds Zarmeen Pavri as senior advisor for Australia, and Maud Savary-Mornet as senior advisor for Southeast Asia…  The Adrian Dominican Sisters sign on to the Catholic Impact Investing Pledge (see, “Catholic institutions pledge to increase impact investments in climate action and social equity)… Bank of America joins the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials.

Thank you for reading.

–July 30, 2020

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