The Brief | December 2, 2022

The Week in Impact Investing: ⚽ Goal!

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact!

🗣 Ownership. There may be only one champion of this year’s World Cup, but shared ownership can produce many winners. Employee-focused purpose or ownership trusts address yawning wealth gaps by cutting employees in on the wealth they help create, Common Trust’s Zoe Schlag told ImpactAlpha’s Dennis Price this week (hear Schlag for yourself on this week’s Impact Briefing podcast). Dennis also reported on new “wealth clubs” at the Austin, Texas-based community development financial institution Just, which enable small-business borrowers to collectively invest in portfolios of rental homes to receive regular dividends and get into the housing market. Using real estate to close racial wealth gaps is a core goal of developers and investors reviving the once-thriving manufacturing and port city of Baltimore, ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering reports. “Baltimore is propelling inclusive economic growth that can be a model for the region and the country,” says James Wahls of Mission Investors Exchange, which will convene its biennial conference in Charm City next week. 

In the World Cup of Climate, MacArthur Foundation is mustering the full spectrum of capital, including “impact-first” catalytic capital and “returns-first” sustainable investments, as well as grants, as the foundation’s John BalbachCaixia Ziegler and Jorgen Thomsen explain in a guest post. Private equity giant TPG committed $300 million to seed the Rubicon Carbon marketplace, which will source high-quality credits backed by nature-based and industrial carbon-reduction projects, ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese reports (see Deal Spotlight, below). Greenbacker, the New York-based independent power producer and asset manager teamed with Softbank this week to lead a $120 million investment in Santa Monica-based Swell Energy, which aggregates residential and business solar and battery storage into “virtual power plants” that can help balance electricity grids.

In the soccer stadiums of Qatar there is little evidence of the ongoing pandemic. Strong Haulers’ Ibrahim Rashid lays out six ways to build a Long COVID economy to help the 100 million people who have never recovered, including up to four million working-age Americans unemployed because of COVID-19. Improved health outcomes for underserved communities “require innovators and investors to make their expectations and standards explicit and then to share a sense of accountability to those expectations,” Johnson & Johnson’s Sarah Mullane argues in a guest post. Agents of Impact are moving the ball up the field, demonstrating teamwork and setting us all up to score. Goal! – Dan Keeler

🗞️ Elsewhere on ImpactAlpha:

  • Impact investing. Uplifting Capital’s Toussaint Bailey is structuring investment strategies to get ‘the quietly bothered’ off the sidelines (podcast).
  • Social security. Investor demand for Atlanta’s $369 million ‘social bond’ cut the city’s interest payments on funds for recreation, transportation, public safety and other capital projects, ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortesereports.

🎧 Impact Briefing. Host Brian Walsh engages Common Trust’s Zoe Schlag, who is taking aim at U.S. wealth gaps by helping employees become owners and enabling business owners to retire with purpose. Plus, the headlines.

The Week’s Agent of Impact

Seth Bannon, Fifty Years: Big swings at big challenges (podcast). Back in 1931, Winston Churchill predicted we’d grow real meat without the animals. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its first approval for climate-friendly cultivated meat to Upside Foods. In his prescient essay, “Fifty Years Hence,” Churchill also predicted synthetic biology, nuclear power, satellite telephony and genetic engineering. But the pace of technological change was advancing so rapidly, he warned, that technologists could be accelerating in the wrong direction. Seven years ago, Seth Bannon and his partner Ela Madej launched the venture capital firm Fifty Years to try to get tech back on track. “We only want to back founders that are taking incredibly big swings and incredibly risky paths but ones that might fundamentally push the world forward if they succeed,” Bannon told ImpactAlpha’s David Bank in an Agents of Impact podcast.

The San Francisco firm raised a $90 million third fund last year. Fifty Years’ big swings include chemical decarbonization firm Solugen, now valued at more than $2 billion, and satellite internet company Astranis, valued at $1.4 billion. Upside Foods, the lab-grown meat producer whose cultivated chicken was green lit by the FDA, is valued at over $1 billion (for background, see “Fifty Years’ bets on ‘deep tech’”). Bannon says a focus on hard-to-solve, long-term challenges like climate, disease and connectivity could help VCs rebound from short-term, get-rich-quick schemes like “crypto, jet packs and delivery apps.” At the same time, impact investors could accelerate transformational change with bigger, riskier bets on deep technologies like clean hydrogen and carbon-negative chemicals. Fifty Years’ thesis is that founders building companies to address the world’s biggest problems “have systemic advantages that will help them outcompete companies that aren’t,” Bannon says. “That thesis has been proved out.” – Dennis Price

The Week’s Dealflow

Deal spotlight: TPG Rise’s $7.3 billion climate plan takes shapeJim Coulter has gotten climate religion. Since taking the helm of TPG’s impact-focused Rise fund last year, Coulter has completed his transformation from buyout buccaneer to climate apostle (see, “The education of Jim Coulter). This week, Rise Climate stood up Rubicon Carbon, a marketplace for buying and selling carbon offsets, with $300 million and a pair of former Bank of America heavyweights. Rubicon will source carbon offsetting projects from Anew Climate, itself a TPG-led rollup of Element Markets and Bluesource. That sets up a powerful flywheel for carbon offsets, which are projected to reach $50 billion by 2030 as corporations scramble to meet net zero goals. TPG has also taken a $1 billion stake, with Abu Dhabi’s ADQ, in an electric vehicle spin-off of India’s Tata Motors. 

Climate-tech, Coulter told analysts last month, is “one of the real bright spots” in a complicated investment landscape. Policy tailwinds in the U.S. and Europe and this year’s extreme weather around the globe have highlighted an historic “imbalance between the amount of specialized capital needed and the amount of specialized capital that’s been formed,” he says. TPG’s Rise Climate fund clinched $7.3 billion in commitments in April to look for “the “Googles of the climate revolution.” The firm is already looking to raise climate-adjacent funds next year and a follow-on to its climate flagship fund in 2024. Says Coulter, “There’s lots of opportunities between now and then.” 

Financial inclusion. Cameroon’s Ejara raised $8 million to enable access to cryptocurrencies and savings with decentralized wallets… Pivo scored $2 million to provide financing and tools for Nigeria’s vendors… Totem, a Tulsa, Okla.-based neobank for Native Americans scored $2.2 million… Igloo raised $46 million to provide insurance for gig economy workers in Southeast Asia… Huruma Fund provided a $5.2 million loan to Nigeria’s Babban Gona to finance, train and supply smallholder farmers… TriLinc Global Impact Fund secured $50 million to finance growth-stage small and medium enterprises in emerging markets. 

Circular economy. Continuum raised $36 million for sustainable metal recycling… Netherlands-based Circularise scored €11 million to repurpose chemicals, plastics, battery materials and other industrial supplies… Paris-based Fairmat raised €34 million to recycle advanced materials like carbon fiber composite.

Clean energy. I-ROX snagged €12 million fromBreakthrough Energy Ventures Europe to develop renewable pulsed-power technology for mining… Solar energy provider Solarise Africa secured $33.4 million to expand its project portfolio in Africa… Swell Energy’s $120 million raise points to the energy grid of the future. 

Gender-lens investing. Women-led Pact raised £30 million to back early-stage startups focused on inclusion, wellbeing and climate tech in Europe… Women-led BackingMinds, in Sweden, raised €50 million to invest in overlooked founders outside of Europe’s capital cities.

Low-carbon transition. Carbon Reform snagged $3 million in seed funding to decarbonize buildings… MassMutual Ventures committed $100 million to invest in 15 to 20 early and growth-stage climate tech companies in the U.S… TPG seeds Rubicon Carbon’s carbon marketplace with $300 million… Dat Bike scored $8 million to bring electric motorbikes to Vietnam. 

Impact bonds. BlueOrchard launched a $135 million listed impact bond strategy for Japanese investor Daido Life Insurance… Investor demand for Atlanta’s $369 million ‘social bond’ cuts city’s interest payments.

Impact tech. Tanzania’s Ramani raised $32 million to digitize Africa’s supply chains… U.K.-based Bigsis scored £4.5 million to provide chemical-free insect control to farmers.

Investing in health. Kenya’s Metro Group bought Evercare’s stake in Nairobi hospital group.

Investing in place. M&G’s Catalyst backed Lafayette Square’s direct lending business with $200 million… Schroders launched a U.K. real estate impact fund with £10 million.

The Week’s Talent

Gary Community Ventures’ chief investment officer Santhosh Ramdosswill replace Mike Johnston as president and CEO… Victoria de Castro, ex- of World Benchmarking Alliance, joins The Predistribution Initiative as an associate director… Kate Turner is promoted to global head of responsible investment at First Sentier Investors, succeeding Will Oulton, who will retire at the end of the year.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Helen Mahywill join NextEnergy Solar Fund’s board as a non-executive director on April 1, 2023. Mahy will succeed Kevin Lyon as chairman of NextEnergy in August 2023… Lisa Neuberger Fernandez, ex-of Accenture, joins 374Water as global head of sustainability and ecosystems.

The Week’s Jobs

In New York

LISCis hiring a manager of legal operations… Employee-owned global investment management firm Neuberger Bermanis looking for a private markets global investment solutions associate… Rockefeller Capital Managementseeks an investment client portfolio manager… The GIINis recruiting a training and accreditation manager… Arcus Foundationseeks a director for its U.S.-based social justice program.

Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis is hiring a senior account executive for social impact… Social Financehas an opening for a director of healthcare impact investments… Blue Dot Capitalseeks a remote senior associate for ESG research and integration… BlueMarkis looking for a senior associate for impact investing research and development… FCJis hiring a senior manager… UBSis recruiting a social impact program manager. 

In Washington, D.C.

DFCis hiring a managing director and supervisory investment funds specialist… The World Bankhas an opening for an Adaptation Fund senior evaluation officer… Carbon180seeks a senior policy advisor for agriculture… The Climate Leadership Councilhas an opening for a director of policy and government relations… The Environmental Defense Fundhas an opening for a corporate climate policy specialist.

In Boston

is recruiting an asset management associate… Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge Trustis hiring a sustainability associate… BosWellseeks a technical co-founder… The Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) is searching for a controller…

Elsewhere in the U.S.

The University of Pennsylvaniaseeks a senior policy strategist for the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics… Sun Life is looking for a director for its business climate and environment strategy… The Robert Wood Johnson Foundationis hiring an impact investments analyst in Princeton, N.J… Montana Healthcare Foundationseeks a senior program officer in Bozeman, Mont.

Global locations

Mott MacDonaldseeks a senior consultant for climate policy and finance in London… Maliasili is looking for a portfolio manager in Southern Africa, and a portfolio associate and manager in East Africa… Temasek’s GenZero investment division has openings for senior associates, vice presidents and an intern in Singapore… C40seeks a senior manager for its Zero Emission Areas Program… LEGO is hiring a climate strategy director in London… TASis looking for a manager of impact measurement in Toronto.

Remote work

EYElliance is hiring a senior manager of sustainable financing… Claire Myers Consulting is looking for a sustainability consultant… Gratitude Railroad is looking for an impact investment associate… The Center for Sustainable Energy has an opening for a director of government affairs… UN Women is recruiting a national gender statistics consultant. 

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– Dec 2, 2022