The Liist | March 5, 2024

Every day is International Women’s Day for female fund managers driving climate solutions (The Liist, March 2024)

Jessica Pothering and Lucy Ngige
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

Guest Author

Lucy Ngige

Women running companies and asset management firms continue to raise less than 2% of total invested capital. Nevertheless, they persist. 

This month’s Liist of impact fund managers that are in the market with funds features a new crop of female fund managers zeroing in on the climate crisis – and opportunity. Streetlife Ventures in New York, for instance, is led by two female GPs targeting a $5 trillion opportunity for solutions to cities’ climate vulnerability, whether that’s in infrastructure resilience, adaptation modeling or energy efficiency. Farmhand Ventures is focusing on compounding climate and labor shortage risks in US agriculture with a VC fund for technologies improving farms’ human and natural resource efficiency. 

Female fund managers in Africa and Asia are focusing on the unique climate issues affecting their home regions. Singapore-based New Energy Nexus is in the market with a catalytic early-stage fund that aims to de-risk new climate technologies and clean energy companies in Southeast Asia. Sahara Impact Ventures is cutting early equity checks to companies in East and West Africa that are curbing food waste, delivering clean energy access, and addressing the knock-on climate impacts in finance, education and healthcare. 

Also on this month’s Liist: Sustainability-focused Bay Bridge Ventures is in the market with its first climate fund; the firm is pledging 10% of its carried interest to climate-aligned nonprofits. Global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps is in the market with its second venture fund, focusing on climate resilience for vulnerable populations in emerging markets. Singapore and Vietnam-based Beacon Fund is raising a fund to address a credit gap in Southeast Asia’s women-led small and mid-sized businesses. 

On this month’s Liist:

  • Bay Bridge VC in the US invests in early and growth-stage climate tech ventures
  • Beacon Fund in Singapore and the Vietnam provides debt to women-owned small and mid-sized businesses in Southeast Asia
  • Farmhand Ventures in the US is a woman-led fund backing tech solutions to farmers’ twin climate and labor challenges
  • Mercy Corps Ventures is in the market with its second fund, focusing on climate resilience in vulnerable emerging market communities
  • New Energy Nexus, a woman-led fund in Singapore, invests at the nexus of gender and climate issues in Southeast Asia
  • Sahara Impact Ventures, a women-led fund, invests at the nexus of gender and climate issues in East and West Africa
  • Street Life Ventures, a women-led fund in New York, backs tech solutions supporting cities’ green transition 

Check out ImpactAlpha’s database of more than 100 impact funds that have recently been featured on The Liist. 

Disclaimer: The Liist and this post are based on available information, sourced by ImpactAlpha. Information has not been further reviewed by the managers nor verified by third parties, is not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness, and should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations. Nothing in The Liist, this post or on shall constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities.

Bay Bridge Ventures’ Climate Fund

Berkeley, Calif.-based Bay Bridge Ventures is a sustainability-focused venture capital firm that invests in early and growth-stage companies. The firm is raising its first dedicated climate fund to back ventures supporting the transition to electric mobility, sustainable housing, and solar and distributed renewable energy, as well as supporting carbon capture and emissions tracking. It’s targeting $200 million with plans for a first close later this month. 

The firm has notched and warehoused three deals for the fund, including SailPlan, which tracks carbon emissions in the maritime industry and helps shipping companies and cruise operators reduce fuel use and costs.

Bay Bridge will donate 10% of its carried interest to a philanthropic foundation that makes grants to climate-aligned nonprofits.

  • Type of investments: Equity with 80% US focus, 20% international
  • Where fund is domiciled: US
  • Leadership: general partners from CalPERS, Goldman Sachs and Obvious Ventures
  • Contact information: Andrew Karsh 

Beacon Fund 

Singapore and Vietnam-based Beacon Fund launched in 2019 to address financing gaps for women-led small and mid-sized businesses in Southeast Asia. The women-led firm makes debt investments of $500,000 to $2 million to companies supporting frontline job creation and security, food systems, climate resilience and other impact themes. It invests in Vietnam with plans to expand to Indonesia and the Philippines.

“These businesses often have solid cash flows and profitability, given that they have had to fund their growth organically over time, but tend to be overlooked by most investors,” the Beacon team explains.

Beacon is among the first gender-lens funds in the region and is dedicated to supporting 100% women-owned and run companies. It often includes impact-linked terms to incentivize portfolio companies to deepen their impact, such as frontline job preservation.

The firm raised $25 million for its open-ended fund in 2019 and 2020, and has so far backed eight companies. It’s back in the market to fundraise with the hopes of doubling its coffers this year. 

It is also raising a $5 million technical assistance facility to support portfolio companies in meeting impact targets, adopting technology, innovating on their products, and boosting their own climate resilience. 

  • Type of investments: Debt 
  • Type of fund structure: Open-ended 
  • Where fund is domiciled: Singapore
  • Leadership: Woman-led
  • Commitments/investments to date: $25 million including backing from the Visa Foundation, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and USAID; 50:50 pari passu portfolio guarantee from the DFC
  • Sample investments: Vietnam-based MindX, a tech education provider focused that reaches more than 10,000 women and girls
  • Example impact metrics: businesses’ % of women ownership, leadership and employment; women-focused products and customers
  • Contact information: Shuyin Tang 

Farmhand Ventures 

Rising operating expenses, climate change and an aging workforce are putting strain on the US’s agriculture sector. Farmhand Ventures is in the market with a $10 million fund to support farmers in adopting new technologies and addressing labor shortages. 

“There is an opportunity today to build a cohort of solutions that enhance the efficiency of farm operations while also improving the livelihoods of farmworkers,” the Farmhand team says. “It is only through intentional, inclusive innovation that centers farmworkers that this work is possible.” 

This Delaware-based investor is raising a 12-year fund towards to cut equity and redeemable equity checks for agtech startups needing pre-seed capital. Redeemable equity in particular, the firm says, “incentivizes founders to find product market fit earlier and gives Farmhand Ventures an opportunity for earlier liquidity,” the team explains. “Founders then retain the option to keep their business regional, or to scale with additional venture funding, as makes the most sense for their business.”

Farmhand Ventures runs the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources venture studio, or VINE, program, supporting commercialization of products and technologies developed in the studio. VINE is one of Farmhand’s sources of pipeline.

  • Type of investments: Pre-seed equity and redeemable equity
  • Type of fund structure: 2.5/20; 506(c) exempt
  • Where fund is domiciled: US (Delaware)
  • Leadership: Woman-led
  • Commitments/investments to date: $1 million with plans for a first close at end of Q1
  • Eligible investors: Accredited
  • Sample investments: two to date, including L5 Automation, an autonomous strawberry harvesting company, and hemp seed producer New West Genetics
  • Contact information: Connie Bowen 

Mercy Corps Ventures Resilient Future Fund

Global humanitarian NGO Mercy Corp’s venture investing arm is raising a $50 million Resilient Future fund to back early-stage entrepreneurs that are bolstering the climate and financial resilience for underserved communities in emerging markets. It is Mercy Corp Ventures‘ second fund. 

The fund will cut checks of $250,000 to $1 million in Seed and Series A-stage ventures in climate adaptive agtech, fintech and other climate-smart technologies serving women, rural communities and refugees. It is structured with a $5 million technical assistance facility to provide post-investment support to very early portfolio companies.

  • Type of investments: Equity
  • Type of fund structure: GP/LP fund structure with a blended capital catalytic layer
  • Where fund is domiciled: US
  • Commitments/investments to date: $1.5 million from USAID Digital Invest 
  • Eligible investors: foundations, family offices, development finance institutions
  • Example impact metrics: number of users served, percentage of female users,  percentage of low-income users,  user income growth 
  • Contact information: Scott Onder

New Energy Nexus

New Energy Nexus started incubating and supporting clean energy startups in California more than a decade ago. It kicked off its Southeast Asia operations in 2017, focusing on Indonesia and Thailand. To address the region’s expanding clean energy and climate needs, the firm is raising a $100 million fund to invest in early-stage clean and climate tech ventures in some of Southeast Asia’s biggest yet highly fossil-fuel dependent markets: Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. 

NEXCatalyst is looking to raise blended finance to derisk tech solutions and catalyze commercial climate capital into the region. 

“Investments in the climate sector in the region are skewed towards larger ticket sizes and established companies with extensive track records, creating barriers for early-stage climate startups from accessing the necessary capital and support needed to scale their climate solutions,” the New Energy Nexus team explains. 

The fund will build on New Energy Nexus’s pilot fund, which focused on the Indonesian climate and clean tech market. The fund invested in companies like electric mobility and battery swapping network operator SWAP Energy, and commercial and industrial rooftop solar provider Xurya. Ikea Foundation supported the Indonesia fund.

  • Type of investments: Equity and convertible notes for seed to Series A-stage companies
  • Type of fund structure: Blended finance GP/LP venture fund
  • Where fund is domiciled: Singapore
  • Leadership: Women-led
  • Example impact metrics: estimated GHG emissions avoided; number of female founders, employees and women in leadership
  • Contact information: Yeni Tjiunardi

Sahara Impact Ventures 

Sahara Impact Ventures is among an early group of investors focusing on opportunities at the nexus of climate and gender in Africa. The women-led firm targets on three themes: sustainable food systems, clean energy access, and access to financial, health and education services in Ghana, Nigheria, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. 

With its first fund, Sahara is looking to raise $30 million to cut equity and quasi-equity checks in pre-seed to Series A companies, offering tickets of $150,000 to $2 million. It has a hard cap of $50 million.

Co-founder Yvonne Ofosu-Appiah was thechief investment officer of Ghana-based climate investment fund Wangara Green Ventures and board appointee for Impact Investing Ghana, Ghana’s national advisory board for impact investing. 

  • Type of investments: Equity and quasi-equity (convertible loans, SAFEs, revenue-share agreements)
  • Type of fund structure: traditional GP/LP
  • Where fund is domiciled: Mauritius
  • Leadership: Women-led
  • Commitments/investments to date: $10 million in soft commitments
  • Example impact metrics: estimated GHG emissions mitigated, jobs created, women/diverse-led teams funded, small businesses supported, estimated tons of food waste averted
  • Contact information: Yvonne Ofosu-Appiah
  • More background reading: “To be effective, climate solutions need a gender lens.” Catch up on all of ImpactAlpha’s Climate + Gender reporting, in partnership with Heading for Change. 

Street Life Ventures

Cities house half of the world’s population and generate roughly 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. “In the race against climate change – and the once-in-a-lifetime financial opportunity to make the green transition – cities are at the forefront,” writes the team behind Streetlife Ventures, a New York-based investment firm investing in cities’ low-carbon transition. 

Streetlife is in the market with a $30 million fund to invest in business-to-business-focused tech ventures in mobility, logistics, building efficiency, energy, waste and water resources, and urban climate adaptation. The firm is looking to build a portfolio of early-stage companies with the capacity to mitigate 100 million metric tons (110 million tons) of CO2 and/or support climate adaptation for 100 million city residents by 2040.

The firm is particularly focused on founders that are  “as diverse as our cities.” It’s aiming for 50% women- and diverse-led companies in its portfolio.

  • Type of investments: Pre-seed and seed equity
  • Type of fund structure: Traditional GP/LP venture fund
  • Where fund is domiciled: US
  • Leadership: women-led
  • Commitments/investments to date: $4 million, including backing from family office Tripple and Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg LP and Sidewalk Labs and former deputy mayor of New York
  • Eligible investors: Accredited investors
  • Sample investments: Rhizome, a software developer that helps utilities, governments and corporations model climate impacts on physical infrastructure

Contact information: Laura Fox