ImpactAlpha, September 2 – Get off the sidelines.
For Agents of Impact, helping impact fund managers – and especially first-time, diverse and emerging managers – to spend less time raising money, and more time helping companies succeed, is another way to accelerate impact (see, “Maximizing the impact of catalytic capital when supporting emerging fund managers”).
Private fund investments are still generally limited to accredited investors (we are always on the lookout for opportunities for everyday retail investors). But even high net-worth angel investors, family offices, financial advisors and wealth managers may not know which firms and fund managers are in the market seeking capital. Annual lists and rankings may not indicate which funds are open to new investments. A welter of securities laws regulate how fund managers can advertise themselves or “solicit” limited partners.
Welcome to our second edition of The LiiST, an initiative of ImpactAlpha and Realize Impact to highlight impact funds and other opportunities that, based on public or accessible information, are believed to be in active fundraising mode. Our inaugural LiiST was published last month. September’s LiiST includes:
- Conservation International’s venture fund, CI Ventures
- Seedstars second International Ventures fund
- Amplifica Capital, a gender-lens fund focused on Latin America
- Community Credit Lab’s returnable grants vehicle
- E8’s Decarbon8-US Fund
- Mission Driven Finance’s Regenerative Finance Fund
- BlackRock’s Impact Opportunities Fund
Disclaimer: The LiiST and this post are based on publicly available or accessible information, have not been further reviewed by the managers nor verified by third parties, are 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 ImpactAlpha.com shall constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities.
Disclosure: Realize Impact helps holders of any donor-advised fund 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, as noted below. If you’d like to invest your philanthropy, or if you’d like to co-invest alongside them with your savings, let them know.
Conservation International’s impact-first investment fund, CI Ventures, is focused on protecting and restoring forests, rangelands and waters in the global South. The international nonprofit, with 35 years of conservation work, is looking to raise $70 million to fill a gap in risk-tolerant capital and technical assistance for local conservation-focused businesses. The fund aims to advance small and medium-sized enterprises’ investment readiness for bigger investment rounds.
- Early traction. CI Ventures has been up and running since 2018, anchored by a $13 million gift. It has since increased to about $20 million. Investments include Indonesia-based aquaculture tech venture Jala Tech, which recently raised a $6 million funding round, and Kenya’s Komaza, which raised $28 million to replant forestlands.
- Open for business. CI Ventures is looking to raise the additional $50 million through a series of rolling closes. CI’s Rikesh Patel can be reached [email protected].
Seedstars is raising for its International Ventures fund, which invests in early- to growth-stage impact tech ventures in emerging markets. Seedstars has raised $20 million for the fund from investors, including the International Finance Corp., Symbiotics, the Visa Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation (via the Catalytic Capital Consortium). It is looking to raise an additional $10 million.
- Impact tech. The fund is Seedstars’ second emerging markets impact tech fund. Emerging markets represent 85% of the world’s population yet raise just 5.4% of global venture capital dollars, Seedstars says. The earlier fund raised just under $10 million and invested in 81 companies in more than 30 countries. Portfolio companies include micro-lending platform Baubap, B2B marketplace for fast moving consumer goods Dastgyr, household appliance finance venture Graviti, and small-business finance marketplace Pezesha.
- Gender lens. The second fund is looking to back 100 companies from pre-seed to Series B stages. All must have at least one female founder. Interested investors can register for more information here.
Amplifica Capital is a Mexico City-based gender lens fund that invests in early-stage startups supporting women’s economic participation in Mexico and Latin America. Women found a quarter of all tech companies but receive less than 2% of VC capital. “Founders have more awareness now of wanting to have diversity on their cap tables. But there are very few women decision-makers in VC,” said Anna Raptis, who launched Amplifica in 2020. The fund focuses on tech in the agriculture, education, clean transition and women’s health sectors.
- Early portfolio. Amplifica launched in 2020. It has since backed eight companies, including women-focused financial education and services venture Mujer Financiera, farmer finance startup and marketplace Verqor, and long-haul bus service Kolors.
- Open for business. The fund, which is domiciled in Delaware, reached a $1 million first close in 2021. It’s working its way towards its $10 million target. Amplifica is aiming to make 20 to 25 early-stage investments with the fund, gradually boosting its check sizes and doing follow-on rounds as it raises. Raptis can be reached at [email protected].
Community Credit Lab is a non-profit lender that uses promissory notes, or “kinship notes,” and recoverable grants to pilot and scale affordable lending programs for people and small businesses excluded from mainstream financial services. It partners with business services organizations and other non-profit lending partners to get capital to communities on their terms. CCL also provides these organizations with support services and back office infrastructure to strengthen their lending programs.
- Program reach. CCL is domiciled in Seattle, Wash., and invests across the U.S. Since launching in October 2019, CCL has received approximately $2.5 million in patient capital investments and disbursed over $1 million through five lending programs with 10 community partners. The organization raises recoverable grants and promissory notes on an annual basis in order to help launch and scale new lending programs. It has raised $155,000 so far this year.
- Open for business. CCL accepts promissory notes from accredited investors and institutions, as well as recoverable grants from donor-advised funds, foundations, other 501c3 nonprofits, and intermediaries with 501c3 status, like Realize Impact. The minimum investment for institutional philanthropic funders is $100,000, and $25,000 for individual funders via DAFs and intermediaries.
- Contact info. CCL can be reached at [email protected] (and check out this video).
E8 is a Seattle-based investor network with a mission to support “the transition to a prosperous and cleaner world” by investing in promising cleantech enterprises. Its portfolio includes energy storage developer e-Zinc, EV fleet management software provider 60 Hertz, and small-scale carbon capture tech company Earthly Labs. E8 is raising for its Decarbon8-US Fund, a philanthropic impact fund that allows anyone to invest in decarbonization startups via a gift or grant of any size.
- Agtech investing. The Decarbon8-US Fund’s focus for 2022 is agtech. A panel of judges will select early-stage U.S. and Canada-based companies for both equity and debt investments.
- Open for business. The Decarbon8-US Fund is an open-ended fund, which has so far raised $500,000 from philanthropic and E8 member investors. Gifts or grants greater than $5,000 can roll returns into a donor-advised or philanthropic fund, or they may choose to reinvest them. E8 members and other accredited investors have the option of co-investing in the finalists selected. (Disclosure: The Decarbon8-US Fund is hosted by Realize Impact, ImpactAlpha’s LiiST partner.)
- Contact info. E8’s Mike Rea can be reached about Decarbon8 at [email protected].
Mission Driven Finance launched in 2016 to narrow community and business finance gaps with access to “sufficient, affordable” capital. The San Diego-based firm is raising for its Regenerative Finance Fund, which supports the food system’s sustainable and resilient transition by investing in businesses advancing regenerative agricultural practices. The fund deploys loans of up to $200,000 for working capital, equipment and project financing, and affordable credit to rural communities in the U.S. Mission Driven Finance says it embraces “an environmental justice lens, including an emphasis on rural, women-led, or BIPOC-led organizations.”
- Open for business. Mission Driven Finance has so far raised $1.6 million in three-year notes. The B Corp. is looking to raise an additional $15 million. Collectively across its funds, Mission Driven Finance has deployed $43.8 million in 80 companies.
- Contact info. The organization can be contacted about the fund here.
BlackRock, the $10 trillion asset management giant, is raising for its $1 billion Impact Opportunities Fund, which invests in companies and projects owned, led or serving Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities. The fund launched in 2021 to make direct investments in private equity, private credit, infrastructure, real estate and other niche asset classes. Investment themes focus on housing, financial inclusion, education, healthcare and digital connectivity. It has already raised more than $800 million.
- Early portfolio. BlackRock’s Impact Opportunities Fund is housed within its $330 billion Alternative Investors group. It has backed Black-owned Eastwood Capital Partners and Retro Fitness, which are jointly developing affordable fitness franchises in Texas and Florida communities of color. The fund is supporting BRP Companies, a Black-owned and operated real estate firm, in building a 292-unit rental community in Farmingville, a tight rental market on New York’s Long Island. Investee Tricolor, a fintech company, finances and sells affordable used vehicles to underserved Latinx customers.
- Contact info. BlackRock can be contacted about the fund at [email protected].