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The Week in impact investing: climate action

TGIF, Agents of Impact!

The Week’s Agent of Impact

Samara Hernandez, Chingona Ventures. The first hint that Samara Hernandez is not your typical venture capitalist is the name of her new firm: Chingona Ventures. Chingona is slang for “badass woman” in her native Mexico. She launched the Chicago-based early-stage venture firm after growing frustrated by the homogeneity of venture investing. “I saw the same types of businesses getting funded, the same types of business models, and the same types of founders,” says Hernandez, who spent five years as a venture partner at tech-focused MATH Ventures. Many good businesses that didn’t fit the mold were turned away. Often, their founders were women, minorities or immigrants whose different perspectives led them to identify unmet needs. Hernandez’s investment thesis is that, by looking where other venture firms aren’t and tapping into massive demographic and generational shifts underway, she can find, and fund, the next big opportunities.

Chingona is not solely focused on diverse founders, but Hernandez puts out a large welcome mat. The mother of a 15-month old boy, she’s tuned into the needs of new and expecting moms. Her office has a lactation room, and to pregnant founders, she says, “I’ll come to you – and let me know what you’re craving!” She’s also keenly aware of the struggles faced by immigrants. Growing up, her parents worked multiple jobs, from maid to busboy, in their adopted land – a very different experience than many of the people she encountered in business school and at Goldman Sachs, where she worked before getting into venture capital. Hernandez is one of less than 20 Latina-run VCs in the U.S. Chingona has already made nine investments and plans to invest in another 25 to 30 startups over the next three years. Along the way, Hernandez hopes to make venture capital a little less intimidating. “I’m trying to change the way CEOs experience fundraising,” she says. “I need to win their deals, too. It’s just respect.”

The Week’s Big 6

1. Jeremy Grantham talks tough on fossil fuels… British-born investor Jeremy Grantham was warning of the risks of climate change long before it was fashionable. “The world is seriously underestimating the dangers of climate change, the rate at which it will eventually have to move and the enormous amount of stranded assets that will result from being late,” he said this week. He urged maximum pressure against the fossil fuels industry. “This is about making them pariahs.” The Q&A

2. …and Larry Fink pledges BlackRock to climate action. Last year, climate activists published a fake “CEO letter” from BlackRock’s Larry Fink promising climate action from the $7 trillion asset management firm. Fink’s real letter this week pledged to cut coal stocks, boost sustainable investments and get off the shareholder-voting sidelines. “We are on the edge,” he says, “of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” Dive in

3. Corporations start to capitalize on ‘positive externalities’. Positive externalities are the new coin of the sustainable investing realm. Fund managers are on the hunt for “sustainability value-add” not yet priced into companies’ stocks. French energy equipment company Schneider Electric, for example, is finding growth in decentralized, decarbonized, digitized electricity. Here’s what it’s doing

4. How asset owners can shift mindsets, incentives and portfolio theory. Shifts in investor behavior and mindset are key to unlocking an inclusive and sustainable form of capitalism. For ImpactAlpha’s What’s Next series with the Global Impact Investing Network, Amit Bouri lays out three ways asset owners large and small can spearhead systemic change. Read on.

5. Low rates and high temperatures spur calls for a U.S. green bank. Two dozen countries, including South Africa and Australia, and 14 U.S. jurisdictions have established green banks to finance their climate resilient and low-carbon futures. A Congressional framework for climate action includes plans for a national green bank. Check it out.

6. Shrimp farming’s jumbo risks. The $45 billion shrimp industry is responsible for 30% of mangrove deforestation and coastal land-use change across Southeast Asia, as well as widespread pollution of ecosystems. Investors need to understand how companies are exposed to the industry’s risks. More.

The Week’s Dealflow

Impact tech. Rebound Technologies secures $5 million for efficient cooling technology… Identity verification platform VerifyMe Nigeria raises Series A round from Consonance Investment Managers… Ankur Capital raises $34 million for impact tech in India.

Community finance. Benefit Corp. Electric Playhouse raises $5 million for immersive entertainment in “third spaces”… Twin Cities affordable housing fund raises $62 million. 

Conservation finance. Croatan Institute secures grant to expand “soil wealth” financing initiative.

Good business. Ecovadis inks $200 million investment to rate companies’ supply chain sustainability. 

Food and agtech. Omnivore and Insitor invest in Indian online food marketplace TechnifyBiz. 

Health tech. Codagenix announces $20 million Series B for drug development.

New energy. Lightsource BP spends $100 million on equipment to fuel solar expansion.

Returns on inclusion. Boston Impact Initiative launches economic justice fund accelerator. 

Wellbeing. Kazidomi raises €1 million for affordable online health food market.

The Week’s Talent

Brienne van der Walt takes the helm of GroFin as CEO… Beth Foster joins Autodesk Foundation as portfolio and investment manager in San Francisco…  Man Group names Robert Furdak as chief investment officer for environmental, social and governance (ESG)… Film and television producer Effie Brown becomes CEO of female-focused film fund Gamechanger Films… Agtech investor Omnivore promotes Reihem Roy and Subhadeep Sanyal to partners.

The Week’s Jobs

The Tipping Point Fund is looking for a lead program officer in New York or Washington, D.C… HBO is hiring a director of sustainability… Impact advisory firm Align Impact is recruiting investment interns for the spring and summer… Co-op Cincy is looking for a financial analyst and co-op business developer in Cincinnati…  Impact investor SEAF is hiring a human resources coordinator in Washington, D.C…  Mission Investors Exchange is looking for a temporary program coordinator to support its peer learning programs.

The Knight Foundation is recruiting summer interns in the U.S… Mission Driven Finance is accepting applications for its community finance fellowship… The Beeck Center at Georgetown University is hiring an Opportunity Zone program management specialist in Washington, D.C… The Investment Integration Project (TIIP) seeks a part-time research assistant.

Thank you for reading.

– Jan. 17, 2020

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