Greetings, Agents of Impact!
Featured: The Reconstruction
Investing in The Reconstruction to bridge the racial wealth gap and rebuild America. A resolution pending in Congress calls for “a third Reconstruction to build an equitable, thriving and resilient economy from the bottom up.” It will take not just the whole of government, but the whole of America to close the racial wealth gap and fulfill long-standing promises of economic justice and shared prosperity. Over the past year, guests on The Reconstruction podcast and in the pages of ImpactAlpha have set out markers for such a public and private mobilization. Call it the rise of the ‘S’ in ESG. Good jobs, affordable housing, social outcomes and wealth creation for the new majority – the proactive vision of economic liberation for all identifies a mega-trend bigger than climate or even tech.
- Promising trend. The number of businesses owned by Black and Latinx founders surged through the COVID pandemic. “I think it’s because we realize that entrepreneurship is probably the truest form of a pathway for us to realize economic wealth and empowerment,” says Melissa Bradley of 1863 Ventures, which has distributed grants of $5,000 each to more than 700 Black and Brown business owners in more than a dozen states.
- Reconstruction investing. Investment theses that bet on positive uplift include Kesha Cash’s Impact America Fund, which seeks tech solutions that empower communities of color, and place-based efforts like the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, led by Latresa McLawhorn Ryan. Among the guideposts: flexible and appropriate capital to finance millions of diverse-led companies; reparative investing models that shift power and ownership; investors and entrepreneurs proximate to social and environmental challenges; and a redefinition of risk to expand access to capital.
- Agents of Impact. Among those weighing in: Common Future’s Rodney Foxworth, Kataly Foundation’s Nwamaka Agbo, Anne Price of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, Founders First’s Kim Folsom, Include Ventures’ Taj Eldridge, Illumen Capital’s Daryn Dodson, Vanessa Roanhorse of Roanhorse Consulting, and many others.
- Keep reading. “Investing in The Reconstruction to bridge the racial wealth gap and rebuild America,” by David Bank and Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.
- Join the conversation. 1863 Ventures’s Melissa Bradley, ImpactAlpha’s Monique Aiken, Bill Fletcher Jr., ex- of TransAfrica Forum, and playwright Gene Bruskin will join Agents of Impact Call No. 36 to take a cut at The Reconstruction This Time, Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 10am PT / 1pm ET. RSVP now.
Dealflow: Climate Finance
Community Choice raises $2.2 billion from clean energy bonds in California. Bay Area-based California Community Choice Financing Authority was set up earlier this year to help energy suppliers chosen by local governments reduce prices for ratepayers. Proceeds of the two municipal bonds of $1.5 billion and $700 million will prepay for 450 megawatts of clean energy to serve 163,000 homes and businesses in the Bay Area and Central Valley. The pre-purchases will help the “community choice aggregators” save nearly $7 million each year. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley underwrote the bonds.
- Community power. Benefiting from the bonds are East Bay Community Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy and MCE, which provides energy in four Bay Area counties. “The two prepay transactions are a fantastic representation of CCAs’ position at the leading edge of the clean energy transition,” said Community Choice’s Nick Chaset. MCE’s Dawn Weisz said the deal “will help us deliver on our promise of cleaner power, community reinvestment and competitive rates.”
- Plug in.
Flutterwave backs Côte d’Ivoire’s digital payments processor CinetPay. Lagos-based Flutterwave helps merchants, banks and other businesses transact across borders and currencies. With its investment in CinetPay, Flutterwave can help merchants in francophone Africa accept online payments. “We’re building the payments infrastructure for Africa,” said Flutterwave’s Olugbenga Agboola, “making it easier for businesses to grow and expand their customer base on the continent and worldwide.” Flutterwave, which has more than 300,000 business users in 20 African countries, invested in Lagos-based fintech Bankly earlier this year, and last month acquired Disha, a payments platform for digital creators.
- African fintech. CinetPay has facilitated more than 30 million payment transactions for 350 merchants in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Flutterwave backed the company’s $2.4 million seed round alongside 4DX Ventures to “ensure that all businesses in our region never miss a sale again,” said CinetPay’s Idriss Marcial Monthe.
- Check it out.
BP buys Amply to expand EV charging in the U.S. If U.S. oil majors won’t help electrify transportation at home, the Europeans will. The acquisition of Amply Power will help BP, formerly British Petroleum, build out electric vehicle charging in the U.S. and expand its global network to 70,000 charge points by 2030, up from 11,000 now. Mountain View, Calif.-based Amply charges commercial fleets, such as trucks, transit vehicles and school buses. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. EV charging is part of BP’s “ongoing commitment to help drive the energy transition in the U.S.,” said BP America’s David Lawler. The oil giant is investing more than $1 billion to develop, with Norway’s Equinor, 4.4 gigawatts of wind power off the coasts of New York and Nantucket.
- Charging rollout. BP in 2018 acquired Chargermaster, which operates Europe’s largest public EV charging network, for $170 million. Servicing commercial fleets is more complex, requiring software to manage fleets and energy costs (for background, see, “Electrification of vehicle fleets sparks disruption of energy and transportation”). Forum Mobility this week raised $7.5 million in seed financing to decarbonize trucking. In November, Washington, D.C.-based Inspiration raised $200 million to scale its fleet charging services.
- Plug in.
Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:
- Black-led startup Therify raises $1.3 million to build a network of mental healthcare providers for underserved people.
- Probus Insurance secures $6.7 million, led by Swiss impact investor BlueOrchard, to expand insurance coverage in India.
- Women-led GoCoach grabs $3.5 million, led by Panoramic Ventures, to help companies upskill and retain employees.
Signals: Playing the Transition
Carbon Collective debuts index of publicly-traded climate solutions. Who says public companies can’t have impact? Roboadvisor Carbon Collective is rolling out an index of 169 publicly-traded companies working to combat climate change, based on Project Drawdown’s framework of climate solutions. On the list: EV maker Tesla, as well as Canoo, Proterra, Nio and Lion Electric. In the circular economy: refrigerant solutions provider Hudson Technologies and lead battery recycler Aqua Metals. The index also includes contraceptive makers Agile Therapeutics and Veru. Project Drawdown makes the case that family planning and girls’ education are key to climate adaptation and mitigation.
- Public equity. A rising stock price can help climate-focused companies further their missions. PlugPower is a powerful example, says Carbon Collective’s James Regulinski. After PlugPower’s stock price surged from President Biden’s election in the U.S., the hydrogen fuel-cell company was able to sell more than $1.5 billion in fresh shares. “We’re not picking winners and losers in a space,” Regulinksi told ImpactAlpha. “We’re just defining which are the spaces that need to be invested in and who’s working primarily on one of the solutions.”
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Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
Caspian Equity promotes Saurabh Johri, former CFO of Caspian Group, to executive director and CEO… Green Century Capital Management seeks a content creator in Boston… JPMorgan Chase is looking for a Force for Good program lead in Bangalore… EY is recruiting a senior sustainable finance consultant in Lisbon.
Social Finance seeks an assistant general counsel of impact investments in Boston… Advantage Capital is looking for an impact intern in St. Louis… BlueMark and Morgan Lewis are hosting “Making Sense of Sustainable Investing: How Asset Managers Can Comply with Financial Regulations and Align with Industry Standards,” Thursday, Dec. 16.
Thank you for your impact.
– Dec 9, 2021