The Brief | June 17, 2022

The Week in impact investing: Bright spots

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact!

ImpactAlpha is taking a Brief break on Monday in honor of the Juneteenth holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S. We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday, June 21.

Pursuit of justice. In Detroit, Reparations Generation is giving Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved $25,000 to support purchasing a home, funded in part by descendants of families who enslaved people. “The purchasing of homes not only helps the families, but also invests in a virtuous cycle that improves the communities in which these families are investing,” writes CapEQ’s Tynesia Boyea-Robinson. Last year, President Biden signed a proclamation making Juneteenth a U.S. holiday. On this Juneteenth, says Boyea-Robinson, take time to celebrate, but also to reflect. “What are some other bright spots you are seeing, and how can we lift them up and replicate the joy they bring to us and to others? How can we use these bright spots to better invest in our community this Juneteenth, in pursuit of justice?”

At ImpactAlpha, we’re seeing bright spots in the work of Agents of Impact like Fairview Capital’s Larry MorseChristine Looney of the Ford Foundation and Najada Kumbuli of Visa Foundation… Brian Dixon and Ulili Onovakpuri, with Freada and Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital… FullCycle’s Stephan Nicoleau… BlocPower’s Donnel Baird… Bahiyah Robinson of VC Include… and Kim Folsom of Founders First – all recent guests on ImpactAlpha’s podcasts.

And Kelly Burton of Black Innovation Alliance… Nwamaka Agbo of Kataly Foundation…  DeAnna Hoskin of JustLeadershipUSA… and Renée Joslyn of Philanthropy Unbound – who joined host Monique Aiken on The Reconstruction. Other bright spots (and Agents of Impact) include John Holdsclaw IV of Rochdale Capital… Sandra Moore of Advantage Capital… Marcus Whitney of Jumpstart Nova… Konda Mason of Jubilee Justice… Charli Cooksey of WEPOWER… and Nasir Qadree of Zeal Capital.

Agents of Impact who have shared their impact voices include Black Farmer Fund’s Melanie Allen… Bulbul Gupta of Pacific Community Ventures and Lenwood Long of the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs… Communities First Fund’s Helen Chin… CapEQ’s Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, PolicyLink’s Michael McAfee and Amit Bouri of the Global Impact Investing Network… and LISC’s George Ashton, to name just a few.

Other bright spots include dozens of new funds and managers featured in ImpactAlpha, including Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, which is standing up a debt fund focused on women, and Black and Brown founders… VC Includebacking 10 climate funds led by diverse managers… Jumpstart Novaraising $55 million to invest in Black healthcare founders… Equitable Facilities Fundsecuring $300 million to finance Black schools leaders… Black Vision fundraising $25 million to support Black-owned small businesses… LISCraising $100 million to expand Entrepreneurs of Color Loan Fund… Serena Venturesraising $111 million to back diverse founders building inclusive solutions… and at least 160 funds creating opportunities for Black, Indigenous and other people of color. (This week, SoLa Impact’s Black Impact Fund secured $15 million from Equitable and Atlanta-based o15 Capital Partners secured $10 million from Invesco to make credit and equity investments led by and serving undercapitalized entrepreneurs and communities.)

The opportunity, says Kim Folsom of Founders First, “is not simply driving access and opportunity to diverse business owners.” In a new guest post on ImpactAlpha, Folsom writes, “The real work to be done is around lifting up diverse entrepreneurs for long-term growth and contributions.” Re-engineering the financial system can expand the economic engine, with diverse founders as equal participants. “This is not a ‘moment in time,’” Folsom writes. “It’s a movement.” – Dennis Price

The Week’s Podcast

🎧 Impact BriefingImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering joins Monique Aikento share the work of equity and debt capital providers in emerging markets, whom she met with last week in Dar es Salaam at the Collaborative for Frontier Finance‘s annual convening. Plus the headlines. 

The Week’s Dealflow

Deal spotlight: Impact in real estate. New real estate funds with impact and inclusive strategies are attracting allocations. U.K.-based Bridges Fund Management closed a £350 million ($425 million) property fund for investments in healthcare, low-carbon logistics and affordable housing. And CEI-Boulos Capital Management, a social impact-focused real estate fund manager, secured $10 million from NBT Bank for a joint venture fund that will invest in real estate projects in low- and moderate-income communities (for background, listen to Jonathan Rose on building green, affordable communities of opportunity).

Returns on inclusion. Dutch impact investor FOUNT and The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law launched the Innovating Justice Fund to improve access to justice services for disadvantaged communities in emerging markets. 

Clean energy. Lowercarbon Capital made its first deal in India, backing SolarSquare’s $4 million seed round to increase access to residential rooftop solar… OhmConnect raised $55 million in a round backed by Citi Impact Fund and Elemental Accelerator to build a residential energy flexibility platform… The U.S. Department of Energy closed a $504.4 million loan guarantee to the Advanced Clean Energy Storage project in Utah, its first clean-energy loan guarantee in a decade and one of the world’s largest clean hydrogen storage facilities. 

Impact tech. Baltimore-based Ecomap Technologies raised $3.5 million in a round led by Las Olas Venture Capital to map entrepreneurial ecosystems… Environmental compliance platform Encamp raised $30 million from Drive Capital, OpenView, High Alpha Capital and Allos Ventures… Five to Nine raised$4.3 million in a round led by Black Ops Ventures to improve the efficiency of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives… Strella Biotechnology secured $8 million to reduce produce waste.

Inclusive fintech. Kinley, a Black-led neobank backed by actress Gabrielle Union, former NFL player Marshawn Lynch and basketball start Kevin Durant, raised $15 million to serve underbanked Black customers, in a round led by Kapor Capital… U.K.-based fintech venture Swoop snagged £5.4 million ($6.5 million) to connect global small and medium-sized enterprises with lenders.

Agrifood investing. Greenhouse startup Little Leaf Farms raised $300 million in a round led by TPG’s The Rise Fund… Indian fish and meat distribution startup FreshR raised $1.2 million in a round led by Axilor Ventures and 1crowd… Mexico’s Solena secured an undisclosed amount of funding from CerraCap Ventures to help farmers improve soil health and crop yield.

Investing in health. Sorenson Impact Group launched Enable Ventures to invest in startups building solutions for people with disabilities… Telehealth provider Boulder Care raised $36 million from investors including Qiming Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, and Laerdal Million Lives Fund to treat patients with substance use disorders.

Women Rising. committed $1.2 billion over five years to Latin America, including a $2 million grant to Pro Mujer to help Indigenous women-led businesses in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras access microloans and digital skills training. 

Inclusive lending. Beneficial State Bank received a $218 million equity investment from the U.S. Treasury’s Emergency Capital Investment Program to expand lending in marginalized communities.

Low-carbon transition. AXA invested $15 million in GreenStruxure for zero-carbon onsite energy… Fashion Climate Fund secured $40 million to decarbonize the apparel supply chain.

Climate tech. scored $5 million to connect global professionals with careers in climate tech… Travertine raised $3 million to commercialize carbon capture technology. 

Good jobs. Nava Benefits raised $40 million to help small businesses lower the costs of employee benefits. 

The Week’s Talent

Kiva’s Premal Shah, Carbon Tracker’s Mark Campanele, Nuveen’s Rekha Unnithan, and ImpactAlpha‘s David Bank and Imogen Rose-Smithare among 70 experts in a network of “Global Impact Leaders” organized by Sorenson Impact Center… Van Jones, founder of social enterprises including Color of Change, Green for All and Dream Corps, and co-founder of Reform Alliance, receives the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award.

Matthew Schick, ex- of Entrepreneurial Equity Partners, joins Creation Investments as chief operating officer. Flor Torres, previously with Harbor Capital Advisors, joins the Chicago-based firm as investor relations manager… Risa Edelman, ex- of US Environmental Protection Agency, joins the Department of Energy as an international policy advisor in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Paul van Stiphout, ex- of CBRE Investment Management, joins Catella Residential Investment Management as manager of the firm’s pan-European residential impact fund… Cait Brumme is named CEO at MassChallenge… Andrea Dalton, ex- of Revelio, joins Nia Impact Capital as a senior portfolio manager… Kresge Foundation’s Bill Mosesis among more than a dozen appointees to President Biden’s board of advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Rukaiyah Adamssteps down as chief investment officer of Meyer Memorial Trust… Sean Hintonsteps down as CEO of the Soros Economic Development Fund and co-director of the economic justice work at Open Society Foundations.

The Week’s Jobs

Ontario Teachers’​ Pension Plan is hiring a principal of total fund management for responsible investing in Toronto… Blue Haven Initiative is looking for an associate to support its ventures investment portfolio… TBLI is accepting applications for the TBLI Better World Prize for best ESG/Impact measurement system… Pi Investmentsseeks an investment advisor to manage its public equities portfolio.

AgDevCoseeks an impact manager or senior impact manager in Cape Town or Nairobi… Tideline is hiring an impact investing business development and marketing analyst… BlueMark, a Tideline company, is looking for an impact investing analyst… Aeris is recruiting a senior associate of business development and administration.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend.

– June 17, 2022