The Week in impact investing: Climate wake-up call



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The Week’s Agent of Impact

Cardinal Peter Turkson, The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. As a cardinal in Ghana, Peter Turkson came to see social enterprise and impact investing as a way of sustaining the ministry of the church. “Economics and finance need to be brought back within the boundaries of their real vocation and function, including their social function, in consideration of their obvious responsibilities to society,” Turkson wrote in 2011 document calling for reform of global markets. At the Vatican, Turkson is a part of the inner circle of Pope Francis (and widely regarded as papabile). If Francis is the Vatican’s inspirational “coach” of impact investing, calling on Catholic institutions to use financial markets to fulfill their mission, Turkson is running point.

From the unlikely perch of the Dicastery, which was formed in 2017, Turkson has seized impact investing as a lever for human development. The multi-lingual Turkson is calling on all investors and business people to be more ethical in their practices; internally, he’s working to get the Church itself to be a more responsible investor. The dicastery, with Catholic Relief Services, has co-hosted three Vatican impact investing conferences (a fourth may take place next year) “to look at very specific paths we can follow to increase capital used for impact investing, especially for the most poor and vulnerable among us.” Turkson is developing ethical investment guidelines with specific guidance for how Catholic institutions should invest for impact. “We must focus on agriculture in poor countries and access to water to those who do not have it, things that are necessary for people’s survival,” Turkson said in Milan last month. Money, he says, “must serve and not dominate.” – Dennis Price

The Week’s Big 7

1. Investor wake-up call: Global climate financing fell 11% last year. Say what? Scientists issued a fresh alarm that “planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.” Yet investment in the low-carbon transition fell from $612 billion in 2017 to $546 billion in 2018. Capital plowed into polluting industries “effectively cancels out these efforts to address climate change,” said Barbara Buchner of Climate Policy Initiative, which tallied the climate-finance numbers. “Leaders should be focused on total economic transformation.” Get it together.

2. Candide launches Olamina Fund for lenders advancing racial justice. The fund, named after a character in the novel Parable of the Sower, is exclusively targeting underserved groups such as women, people of color and Native people. Candide Group’s Morgan Simon says the $40 million fund will boost the financial capacity of front-line lenders to entrepreneurs – and challenge conventional notions of risk and return. Dive in.

3. Private equity watch (podcast). With big players spinning up impact funds, the impact of the rest of their investments is getting more scrutiny. At the same time KKR was raising more than $1 billion for its Global Impact Fund, it was striking a deal, with Blackrock, to put up $4 billion for a 40% stake in the pipeline infrastructure of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. The climate emergency demands that investors decapitalize fossil fuels, not add them to their portfolios, said roundtable regular Imogen Rose-SmithListen in.

4. SEC vote stifles shareholders. A U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission vote could make it harder for shareholders to hold corporate management accountable on issues like climate risk, gun control, and pay. The changes were sought by the Business Roundtable, even as its CEO members pledged accountability to “stakeholders.” Said Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr. in dissent: “Whatever problems plague corporate America today, too much accountability is not one of them.” Voice your concern.

5. Co-op power. Cooperatives owned by and operated for the benefit of their members are newly relevant as the U.S. and other countries grapple with the growing inequality of wealth and power. The annual tally by National Cooperative Bank found the top 100 U.S.-based cooperatives generated combined revenues of $222 billion in 2018, up from $214 billion in 2017. Share this.

6. Seven ways to catalyze social investments in high-impact enterprises. Impact investors need a robust pipeline of organizations dedicated to delivering deep social impact. The U.K. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing identified ways to catalyze capital for “social investments,” which finance high-impact social enterprises and nonprofits. Check them out.

7. Faith-based institutions answer The Call for impact investing. “Faith-based investors have tremendous opportunity to do even more with their assets and investments,” said Giselle Leung of the Global Impact Investing Network on ImpactAlpha’s Call No. 11. That cued representatives for Christian, Jewish and Muslim investors and asset managers to dig in on the tools and strategies aligning portfolios with faith values. Read on and listen in.

The Week’s Dealflow

Impact tech. Cervest raises £3.7 million to model geographic impacts of climate change… Socially Determined raises $7.3 million to map ‘social determinants of health’… Soil data firm AgriTask raises $8.5 million with backing from InsuResilience… India’s Fasal raises $1.6 million for local-language farm data app.

Fund raises. New Zealand’s Enterprise Angels locks down $13 million for impact fund… LeapFrog co-founder launches Zamo Capital to invest in impact fund managers… 4impact clinches €14 million for Dutch impact tech fund.

Education and good jobs. Kenzie Academy secures $100 million to boost Americans’ access to tech training… Techtonic raises $6 million for U.S.-based software apprenticeships… Acumen Latin Capital Partners backs SunColombia to electrify rural schools with off-grid solar.

Innovative finance. Tata Power and Rockefeller Foundation partner to develop 10,000 mini-grids in India… Four investors back development impact bond for Palestinian youth.

Locavesting. Apple pledges $2.5 billion to five Bay Area housing initiatives… Verte Opportunity Fund backs Galen Robotics in Baltimore Opportunity Zone.

The Week’s Talent 

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Singtel’s Simon Israel, and Ayala Corp.’s Jaime A Zobel de Ayala join the global leadership council of LeapFrog Investments… Tariq Khokhar steps down as managing director and chief data scientist at Rockefeller Foundation… Carmen Rojas, founder of The Workers Lab, is the new president and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

The Week’s Jobs 

Omidyar Network is looking for a head of people operations, and principals in beneficial tech in Redwood City… Credit Suisse is hiring an analyst in its impact advisory department in London… Palladium is hiring a blended-finance specialist in Washington D.C…. The Global Impact Investing Network is looking for a manager of institutional investor engagement in New York… UBS Optimus Foundation seeks a program analyst for its social finance team in Zurich.

Kapor Capital is looking for a director of investments in Oakland… Renewal Funds is hiring an investment professional and an assistant in Vancouver… Future of Fish is recruiting a director of blended finance and business innovations… Stanford University’s Ethics, Society and Technology Hub seeks a program manager.

Thank you for reading.

– Nov. 8, 2019 

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