The Brief | August 30, 2021

The Brief: Resilience force for hurricane recovery, small business digitization in India and Pakistan, EVs in Australia, lower minimums for climate funds

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Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

The Call: Capitalism Reimagined. We’re all universal owners now. In financial markets, new calculations of risk and value are upending business as usual. Join Engine No. 1’s Michael O’Leary, The Shareholder Commons’ Sara Murphy, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and other Agents of Impact to talk long-term stewardship, investment guardrails and shareholder democracy with ImpactAlpha and Omidyar Network, Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

Featured: The Reconstruction

Recovery from Hurricane Ida starts with equitable treatment for the ‘resilience force’ of essential workers (podcast). With hurricane winds still blowing and rain falling, essential workers are already stepping up to restore services and communities in Louisiana and elsewhere. No, it’s not too early to center equity, justice and worker rights as Hurricane Ida relief efforts get underway. Exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina, Ida provides an opportunity to use recovery efforts to redress inequalities instead of exacerbating them. “The first few weeks after a disaster, the period called ‘rapid repair,’ are absolutely critical,” Saket Soni, executive director of Resilience Force, tells host Monique Aiken in a new episode of The Reconstruction podcast. “That’s really what the workforce will be focused on. Our job is to go and support them make sure they can finish that critical American work. And to make sure that government actors and private actors – companies, the administration, governors – recognize the workers and what they need.”

A longtime community organizer, Soni founded Resilience Force in 2019 to work with local and state governments to provide quality jobs for local residents and meet community needs in natural disasters, health emergencies and other crises. While public resources readily reach wealthier residents, in low-income communities unseen damage to social and family connections goes unrepaired and government support quickly dwindles. The result is a transfer of tax dollars into the pockets of top earners, widening the ‘resilience divide’ between wealthy and less-wealthy communities. Similar patterns have held true during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Recovery will be the single most important national priority for the next five years because of the pandemic,” Soni says. “We have to make it a national project to build resilient people, surround them with the abundant resources they need, have their backs, build and fund their safety net, provide them jobs. Make sure they have good jobs with careers and take care of each other. That’s the true meaning of resilience.”

Dealflow: Digitization

Khatabook and Bazaar raise financing to digitize small businesses in India and Pakistan. Investors continue to swarm enterprise technology providers helping small businesses go online. Last week, Nuvemshop raised $500 million to support digitization of small businesses in Brazil. In India, Khatabook raised $100 million to help Indian merchants manage their business transactions online. The company said its app supports 10 million merchants. The financing round was co-led by U.S.-based Tribe Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Better Capital, Unilever Ventures and others. 

BlackRock takes a stake in JOLT to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in Australia. Australia is way behind in the global electric vehicle race. Sydney-based JOLT believes it can accelerate EV adoption with a network of charging stations. JOLT offers EV owners up to 15 minutes of charging, or seven kilowatt-hours, free of charge, allowing drivers to travel up to 28 miles. With an A$100 million (US$72 million) investment from BlackRock, JOLT is aiming to add more than 5,000 new charging stations across the country.

Carbon Equity secures €1.2 million to lower minimums for private climate investing. “The vast majority of innovation and transformation concerning climate change will happen in private markets,” says Carbon Equity’s Jacqueline van den Ende. Minimum investments in many private equity and venture capital funds, however, generally range from €5 million to €10 million. The Amsterdam-based fund manager wants to unlock the  $74 trillion “mass affluent” market, which consists of earners with $100,000 to $10 million in assets. The company is accepting minimum investments of €100,0000 and plans to lower the threshold in the future.

  • Impact fintech. Climate Equity last month launched its inaugural fund, the 2150 Urban Tech Sustainability Fund, and already has met its €3.3 million target. “Carbon Equity is creating access to the world’s top climate funds by leveraging technology and a smart community approach,” said Pauline Wink of 4impact, which led the financing round.
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Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • CEI-Boulos Capital Management’s Opportunity Zone impact fund makes a $3 million equity investment in an affordable student housing project for low-income students.
  • NBA star Chris Paul and Jay-Z back Black-owned Misha’s Kind Foods’ $3 million raise to make plant-based cheese.
  • LevelTen Energy secures $35 million to build renewable transaction infrastructure for clean energy advisors, buyers and sellers.
  • Egypt’s small business digitization and logistics company MaxAB acquires Moroccan peer WaystoCap and adds $15 million to its Series A round

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent 

Ann Mei Chang, ex- of USAID and Mercy Corps, will become CEO of Candid, which was formed by the 2019 merger of Guidestar and Foundation Center… Anne Finucane, who led Bank of America’s ESG and sustainable finance efforts, will retire as vice chairman… Scott Love, ex- of Louisville Forward, will lead the Local Initiatives Support Corp.’s Louisville office.

BLCK VC is accepting applications for its fall “Breaking into Venture” program… Kiva is looking for a director of strategic investments… Refugee Investment Network seeks an Africa director… impak Finance is hiring an impact analyst in Montreal… Avesta Fund is looking for an investment manager for a new climate and diversity fund… J.P. Morgan-owned OpenInvest is recruiting an ESG product associate in San Francisco… Value Reporting Foundation is looking for analysts.

Thank you for your impact.

– Aug 30, 2021