The Brief | August 2, 2022

The Brief: The LIIST of open impact funds, EVs-as-a-service, impact tech in Africa, federal policy for community solar

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: Mobilizing Capital 

The LIIST No. 1: Seven impact funds that are raising capital now. Between the launch and the close is the raise. For Agents of Impact, helping impact fund managers – and especially first-time, diverse and emerging managers – spend less time raising money and more time helping companies succeed is another way to accelerate impact (for context, see “Maximizing the impact of catalytic capital when supporting emerging fund managers”). But angel investors, family offices, financial advisors and wealth managers may not know which firms and fund managers are in the market seeking capital. With our partners at Realize Impact, we are presenting a monthly sampling of impact funds and companies that we believe, based on public or accessible information, to be in active fundraising mode. The August edition of The LIIST includes:

  • rePlant Capital’s evergreen private-debt Soil Fund; 
  • Renew West’s carbon offsets business; 
  • Gigawatt Global’s fund for renewable energy in Africa; 
  • Beneficial Returns’ Reciprocity Fund to support social enterprises in indigenous communities in Latin America and Southeast Asia; 
  • Denkyem Coop’s community loan fund for Black-owned businesses; 
  • CNote’s Wisdom Fund to support women of color; and 
  • Maya Capital’s early-stage venture capital fund for Brazil and Latin America. 

Disclosure: Realize Impact helps holders of donor-advised funds make impact investments through “philanthropic investment grants.” As recommended by donors, Realize Impact has invested in some of the funds and companies included in The LIIST. And, of course, nothing in the Brief or in the post shall constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities.

Sponsored by J&J Impact Ventures

How to set social impact targets in an uncertain world. Investment managers know that targets are important for evaluating financial performance. Targets have largely avoided the social impact side of the equation. “Setting an ambitious but defensible impact target is imperative both for learning and accountability purposes,” write Sasha Zoueva of Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures, a fund within the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, and Matt Ripley of The Good Economy.

  • Impact targets. With top-down modeling and bottom-up measurement, J&J Impact Ventures calculates its portfolio’s “cost-per-life-reached.” Zoueva and Ripley share the what, who and how of target-setting on ImpactAlpha. Read the full post.

Dealflow: Low-Carbon Transition

Onto raises $60 million for EVs-as-a-service in Germany. The U.K.-based company launched in 2017 to promote consumer usership, not ownership, of electric vehicles. Onto’s all-inclusive monthly subscription service lets drivers select from 18 EV models, starting at £489 ($595) per month with no deposit or long-term commitment. Customers can drive up to 750 miles per month. Onto takes care of maintenance, charging, road tax and insurance. “Making it simple and easy to get an electric car is essential to building a sustainable future,” said Onto’s Rob Jolly. More than 100 companies have signed up for Onto’s business service, which enables companies to offer the service as an employee benefit.

  • European expansion. Onto says the business grew more than 500% last year, despite supply-chain disruptions. Its Series C equity round was backed by Legal & General, Accelerated Digital Ventures and others. Onto will expand to Germany next year.
  • Check it out.

Oui Capital notches an $11 million first close for its second impact tech fund. Olu Oyinsan left his job at a Silicon Valley Bank about five years ago to launch Lagos-based Oui to invest in early-stage companies “that get to the root of poverty” in Africa (for context, see “Agent of Impact: Olu Oyinsan”). Since then, Oyinsan and co-founder Francesco Andreoli have backed nearly 20 companies from their inaugural $5 million fund, including enterprise software startup Duplo, mobility venture AwaBike, and women-focused fintech venture Herconomy. Oui is looking to raise $30 million for its second fund to write checks of up to $750,000 in the pre-seed and seed-stage rounds. “Expect us to be leading many more deals across the ecosystem and vocalizing firm initiatives,” Oyinsan told TechCrunch, “all things we’ve been doing quietly in the past four years, but [are] now looking to double down on with the new fund.”

  • Hunting unicorns. TeamApt’s Tosin Eniolorunda invested in Oui’s second fund after receiving an investment from the firm’s first fund. Nigeria-based TeamApt lets anyone with a mobile phone and point-of-sales machine become a local bank branch in their community. When Oui invested in TeamApt in 2019, the company was valued at $12.5 million; it’s now looking to raise a Series C round that could value the company at more than $1 billion. Other investors in Oui’s fund include Vibe Capital and Alitheia Capital’s Tokunboh Ishmael.
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Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • Achieve Partners acquired Helios Consulting, a tech staffing company, through its workforce fund. Last month, Achieve sold tech training venture Genuent to A&M Capital Partners.
  • Connecticut Innovations will use a $120 million commitment from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative to launch a $50 million climate fund for businesses focused on climate resilience.
  • Austin-based Smarter Sorting snagged $7 million from Regeneration.VC to help retailers and brands to scan for hazardous ingredients in their products.
  • Pakistan-based social commerce startup DealCart scored $4.5 million in pre-seed financing to make daily essentials accessible and affordable.

Signals: Policy Corner

Federal policies to spur community solar in low-income communities. The surprise Inflation Reduction Act and a bipartisan bill to support domestic semiconductor production had clean energy advocates buzzing last week. So it was easy to overlook a series of actions by the Biden administration to help low-income households access clean energy savings and the new wave of green jobs. In recent months, big players like private equity firm Apollo and Reactivate, a joint venture of Lafayette Square and Invenergy, have piled into the market for community solar for low- and moderate-income communities (see, “Solar proves a pathway for private capital to flow into low-income communities”). But red tape had caused difficulty in reaching families in public housing and other federally subsidized programs. 

  • Energy savings. Low-income households spend disproportionately more of their income on energy, with the poorest households spending as much as 30% or 40% of their income on energy bills. Because of a quirk in the rules, public housing tenants faced rent increases if solar projects lowered their utility bills. Now with the new bill, “if solar cuts your bills, your rent won’t go up,” says Michelle Moore of Groundswell, a nonprofit community solar developer.
  • Green workforce. To meet decarbonization goals, the green workforce will need to expand from 300,000 workers today to between 500,000 and 1.5 million by 2035. The Department of Energy will earmark $10 million from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to award up to 16 workforce training grants under the Advancing Equity Through Workforce Partnerships funding program (for context, see “A $25 million plan to upskill and diversify the climate workforce”).
  • Keep reading, Federal policies to spur community solar in low-income communities,” by Amy Cortese on ImpactAlpha. 

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Impact Engine promotes Ander Iruretagoyena and Chris Wu from senior associates to vice presidents. Iruretagoyena specializes in fund and co-investment sourcing, diligence and management; Wu specializes in environmental sustainability… The Ladima Foundation selects Nsile James Uiso, Ruth Nazzinda, Adelaide Barnabas Jachi, Zuwena Hamad Othman and Gwantwa Lucas Mwakalinga for its six-month creative economy incubator. 

Geraldine Alias, ex-of Choate Investment Advisors, joins climate-focused investment firm Three Cairns Group as a managing director… Social Finance seeks a vice president of impact investments in Boston, San Francisco, Austin, New York or Washington, D.C… CEI-Boulos Capital Management, a social-impact real estate fund manager, is looking for a vice president in Brunswick, Maine.

CDC Small Business Finance, Capital Impact Partners and Venture Lending Technologies form Momentus Capital to support small business owners, developers and other local leaders through direct lending, impact investments, training and mentorship… Capital Group is hiring an ESG senior specialist in Los Angeles.

Thank you for your impact!

– August 2, 2022