The Brief | July 11, 2023

The Brief: The Liist of green and inclusive managers, climate tech downs and ups, rehabilitating affordable housing

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Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: The Liist

Green twists on inclusive, place-based investing. Diverse cleantech founders in Los Angeles. Shopping centers in Chicago. And community-based real estate development nationwide. Fund managers on this month’s Liist of impact funds that are raising capital are financing underserved communities and founders, climate justice and the green transition. The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator is raising its second fund to support diverse-led cleantech ventures that come through its accelerator programs. Its portfolio includes ChargerHelp, a Black women-founded business that trains low-skill workers to become electric vehicle charger repair technicians and helped establish certification for the job.

  • Green upgrades. Chicago Trend is promoting community ownership and wealth creation for Black urban residents by co-investing in shopping centers then upgrading them with solar panels, green landscaping and energy efficiency. Enterprise’s Community Loan Fund provides flexible real estate financing for affordable housing and community facilities nationwide, paying special attention to diverse- and women-owned developers. Its loans are adapted to projects making green affordable housing upgrades, like installing rooftop solar (listen to our podcast conversation with Enterprise’s Lori Chatman).
  • Climate finance. All of the funds on this month’s Liist are climate-focused. Prithvi Ventures in New York is raising a second early-stage climate tech fund. Unitus Capital launched UC Impower to invest in growth-stage climate ventures, as well as inclusive fintech ventures. BIX Capital in the Netherlands provides working capital tied to certified climate receivables. Ultra Capital‘s third Energy Transition Fund is investing in early growth-stage companies supporting the adoption of clean energy.
  • Keep reading, Green twists on inclusive, place-based investing (The Liist, July 2023),” by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha. Past editions of the Liist include dozens of innovative and impactful funds and managers.
  • Asking for a friend. Know an impact fund manager currently raising capital? Drop us an email or complete this short form.

Dealflow: Climate Finance

Amid venture malaise, climate investors see opportunities in emerging solutions and overlooked markets. Climate inventors may be writing smaller checks, but they are still finding opportunities to invest in companies accelerating the low-carbon transition (see, The Liist, above). Venture funding for climate solutions plunged by 40% in the first half of the year, amid a broader VC slowdown, according to Climate Tech VC. Hardest hit were growth-stage investments, especially in overheated categories like transportation, energy and food. “The opportunity for the next Tesla has mostly played out,” as CTCV put it. Investors instead are channeling funds to emerging climate tech solutions, such as decarbonizing heavy industry and buildings. The plus side: climate investors raised $94 billion in fresh capital last year, private equity firms are still raising mega-climate funds, and incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act are just starting to kick in. “We see stronger tailwinds than ever,” Energy Impact Partners’ Cassie Bowe told ImpactAlpha

  • Early stage. Seed funding in the first half of the year grew 23% from last year, while seed deal count surged by more than 33%. Recent deal activity: US and UK-based Material Evolution raised a £15 million ($19 million) Series A round led by Kompas VC for its low-carbon cement. German startup Vilisto, which makes thermostats for commercial buildings, raised €5 million ($5.5 million) from SET Ventures, ER Capital Holding and other investors. Osaka-based EX-Fusio snagged 1.8 billion yen ($12.7 million) for its laser-powered fusion energy technology.
  • Climate strategy. LeapFrog Investments pledged to invest $500 million in startups developing low-carbon solutions for Asia and Africa’s emerging consumer classes. “In the next decade we want to act as a catalyst and enabler for billions of low-income consumers finding clean pathways into prosperity,” LeapFrog’s Andy Kuper said yesterday at the Climate Finance Mobilization Forum in London, which was convened by Grant Shapps, the UK energy security secretary, and US climate envoy John Kerry, and coincided with President Biden’s meeting with King Charles. More.
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Impact muni bond: Rehabilitating and retrofitting affordable housing in New York. Nearly 14% of New Yorkers live below the poverty line. “Lack of ability to afford housing rent puts New Yorkers at risk of homelessness,” writes Anna Rautenberg of HIP Investor. New York went to the bond market to finance the construction and upgrades of nearly 1,000 affordable housing units in New York City and other areas. The New York State Housing Finance Agency closed a $307.4 million sustainability bond to build, acquire and rehabilitate six affordable housing developments. ImpactAlpha is featuring the issuance as part of our partnership with HIP Investor to highlight bond issues with social and/or environmental significance. The “Muni Impact” series has featured bonds in Southern California, Kansas City, Philadelphia, the Twin Cities, North Carolina and elsewhere.

  • Green and inclusive. Projects financed from the bond will be able to tap multiple subsidy programs, including one from the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities that finances construction or adaptive reuse of properties for supportive housing with on-site social services. The Clean Energy Initiative Program helps rental housing projects meet sustainability standards. The Federal Housing Trust Fund finances rental units for households earning 30% or less of the local area median income. HIP gave the New York bond a “net positive” impact rating of 65.7 out of 100.
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Dealflow overflow. Other news crossing our desks:

  • Delhi-based Battery Smart raised $33 million from Tiger Global, Blume Ventures, BII and the Ecosystem Integrity Fund for its EV battery swapping service. (The Economic Times)
  • MySol Grid Zambia, a subsidiary of France-based Engie Energy Access, clinched $7.5 million in debt from the Facility for Energy Inclusion, a Lion’s Head-managed fund for off-grid renewable energy providers in Africa. (Afrik21)
  • Dutch sustainable aquaculture venture The Kingfish Company secured €32 million ($35.2 million) in convertible debt from Ocean 14 Capital. (The Kingfish Company)
  • MyDawa, a woman-led healthcare startup in Kenya, scored $20 million from Alta Semper Capital to expand its online health consultations, pharmacy and lab services. It acquired Uganda’s Guardian Health as part of its growth plans. (TechCrunch)

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Veris Wealth Partners is looking for an impact investing senior research analyst in New York… Founders First Capital Partners has an opening for an investor relations associate in San Diego… Stada Education Foundation is hiring a strategic investments platform manager in Indianapolis… East Bay Community Energy is recruiting a structured finance manager in Oakland… GenZero is on the hunt for a carbon sales and management vice president in Singapore… Also in Singapore, Convergence Blended Finance is recruiting an Asia-Pacific associate… Alterna Impact seeks an impact business development fellow in Guatemala City. 

Thank you for your impact.

– July 11, 2023