The Brief | June 4, 2021

The Week in impact investing: Building forward

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact! 

🎧 Impact Briefing. On this week’s podcast, host Monique Aiken looks back and looks forward, with highlights of her conversations with Tiffany Crutcher and Greg Robinson in Tulsa, Okla., and Anne Price of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland (see No. 3, below). Plus, the headlines. Tune in, share, and follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Week’s Big 7

1. Electric boda bodas, tuk tuks and rickshaws… oh my! The e-mobility shift in India, Southeast Asia and Africa is drawing lenders and impact investors to the manufacturing and financing of two- and three-wheel vehicles, which form the backbone of public transportation for billions of people worldwide. Take a spin

  • E-buses in Latin America. Public policy, decreasing technology costs and business model innovation have unlocked a phase of rapid growth for electric buses across Latin America. Dalberg’s Fabiola Salmán and Sylvia Warren write in a guest post that more can be done to ensure continued growth and drive financial and social returns. Read their post

2. The tidal wave coming at ExxonMobil. The slate of directors backed by hedge fund Engine No. 1 claimed a third victory when the oil giant announced that Andy Karsner, an energy expert and self-described “passionate conservationist,” will join two other insurgent candidates on the company’s board. Board member Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox, called Exxon’s shareholder revolt “a tidal wave.” Shareholder power.

3. The Reconstruction: Centering Blackness for economic liberation (podcast). The dehumanization of Black life separates white people from their humanity as well, Anne Price of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development tells Monique Aiken on the latest episode of The Reconstruction podcast. “Centering Blackness creates space for all people to be seen, and that can be restorative,” says Price. “This healing is something that needs to happen collectively.” Read on and listen in.

  • Building Black wealth. U.S. President Joe Biden promised to boost Black home and business ownership as he commemorated the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre that destroyed the thriving Black community of Greenwood, Okla. “The only way to build a common ground is to truly repair and to rebuild,” Biden said. Onward.

4. Rise of corporate community investors. The Local Initiative Support Corp.’s $250 million raise for its Black Economic Development Fund demonstrated a growing source of capital for community development: corporations. Tech companies in particular, including PayPal, Netflix and Twitter, have discovered community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, and minority depository institutions. Corporates remain risk-averse, however, despite “significant demand for investors to take bold and early bets to send a positive signal to the rest of the market,” writes the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance in “Impact in Place.” Step up.

5. Agents of Impact Call: Catalytic family capital for impact first. Ceniarth’s Diane Isenberg is championing a strategy of impact-first capital preservation. Regan Pritzker is spending down philanthropic assets through the Kataly Foundation. And Sheri Sobrato Brisson and the Sobrato Organization are moving to integrate impact and ESG across their portfolio. Call No. 28 explored family office strategies for putting impact first (the audio replay is now posted). Check it out.

6. Getting deals done. From pay-for-success initiatives to emerging market investments, reducing transaction costs can make impact investing more efficient and effective.

  • Streamlining pay-for-success. In a guest post on ImpactAlpha, University of Chicago grad student Ibrahim Rashid and Yale MBA candidate Sam Levine call for pay-for-success parties to “prioritize simplicity through project setup to reduce contractual costs.” Dive in.
  • Facilitating dealflow in emerging markets. Intermediaries in frontier and emerging markets help deals get done by improving the flow of information and trust between parties, CrossBoundary’s Jake Cusack, Matt Tilleard and Tom Flahive argue in a guest post. Keep reading

7. Small, local and experimental climate solutions. Billion-dollar infrastructure projects take time. Local pilot projects can test climate adaptations for global scalability. Paul Robinson and Katerina Oskarsson report from the “coastal resilience living lab” hosted by RISE Resilience Innovations, a Virginia-based non-profit economic development organization. Dive in.

The Week’s Dealflow

Agrifood investing. Delhi-based Egreens sets up a $2 million investment vehicle for agritech startups in India… IDH Farmfit Fund acquires a stake in LendXS to expand lending to smallholder farmers… ADAP Capital backs FarmMoja to train Kenyan farmers… ABC Fund commits $1.2 million to West African agri-businesses Kaworo and Établissement Yaffa et Frères… Plant-based restaurant chain Plant Power Fast Food raises $7.5 million in Series A funding. 

Low-carbon transition. The Rise Fund puts $100 million in Climavision to improve weather forecasting… Energy Access Ventures backs SolarX Africa for commercial and industrial solar in Mali and Burkina Faso…Finland’s eMabler secures €630,000 to help energy companies and electric vehicle operators integrate EV charging services… Carbonstop raises $7.7 million to help Chinese companies lower their carbon footprints. 

Inclusive economy. Guild Education secures $150 million to upskill frontline workers… Access Ventures’ Render Capital launches First Dollar Program for underrepresented businesses in Louisville, Ky. and Southern Indiana… Base10 will donate half of its profits from a new $250 million fund to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Impact tech. Latin America’s digital commerce platform ADDI secures $65 million in debt and equity financing… Rubio Impact Ventures invests $6 million in Amsterdam-based surgical care startup Incision.

Inclusive recovery. FMO and the International Development Finance Corp. launch a $75 million facility to support a COVID recovery in low-income countries… Heritas Capital raises $60 million to invest in Asia-based impact startups driving an inclusive post-COVID economy.

The Week’s Talent

James Wahls, ex- of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, joins Mission Investors Exchange as senior vice president of programs and initiatives… Danielle Rose is promoted to chief executive officer at SMASH… HCAP Partners’ Hope Tarirai Mago will chair Impact Capital Managers’ board of directors… SJF Ventures promotes Jacqueline Bennett to principal.

The Week’s Jobs

Net Impact is hiring an associate director of growth, an associate director of community and other rolesUncharted is looking for a director of economic inequality, a program manager and a program associateCaprock Group seeks an investment research analyst in the San Francisco Bay Area… The U.S. International Development Finance Corp. is looking for a managing director of impact management and monitoring.

In New York, ISS Corporate Solutions is hiring a sustainability advisor, and Impact Capital Managers is looking for an analyst… Rockefeller Capital Management seeks an ESG integration lead… Global X ETFs is looking for a director of sustainable investing… Habitat for Humanity International seeks an associate director of impact investments in Washington, D.C… Also in D.C., Accion Venture Lab is recruiting a senior director of investments.

In London, Eight Associates is recruiting a carbon and sustainability consultant… Principles for Responsible Investment seeks a steering committee coordinator for Climate Action 100+… and BlackRock Alternative Investors is hiring a head of sustainable investing… In Boston, CapShift is looking for an investment data and operations professional… SustainCERT has openings for climate and sustainability analysts, and Arctaris Impact Investors seeks a director of investor relations.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

June 4, 2021