The Brief | October 6, 2023

The Week in Impact Investing: Courage to act

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact! ImpactAlpha is taking a Brief break for Monday’s US holiday. We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

🗣 Walking the talk. At the GIIN’s annual impact investor confab this week, Amit Bouri spoke of the need for both ambition to lead change and humility for the journey ahead, as David Bank and Jessica Pothering reported from Copenhagen. We’d add a third requirement of an industry at a crossroads: the courage to act. We may be facing a polycrisis, but dozens of impact funds in our new Liist database, the majority women-led in recent months, as Jessica reports, remain open and underfunded. On a gender-lens prep call this week for an upcoming conference session, a guest wondered if demand from asset owners was keeping up with supply of funds led by or investing in women. On a virtual webinar, Laura Callanan presented to investors Upstart Co-Lab’s new strategy for building what has eluded even Hollywood: a diverse and inclusive creative economy. The strategy has raised a bit over half of its targeted $23 million. Today’s convening of the Catalytic Capital Consortium is showcasing what we increasingly know: that taking a little risk can generate outsized impact.

More opportunities await ambitious impact investors. In this week’s Plugged In call, host Sherrell Dorsey highlighted the yawning gap in affordable capital for Black farmers and food entrepreneurs, despite the opportunity investors have to back promising models such as Black Farmer Fund, Potlikker Capital and Jubilee Justice (see Plugged in recap and replay, below). By enabling equitable homeownership, Dearfield Fund is demonstrating that Black women are at the center of the Black-wealth movement, as Roodgally Senatus reported. The Denver-focused fund is halfway towards its $20 million goal. In an op-ed, Monique Aiken, William Burckart, Tynesia Boyea-Robins and Mahlet Getachew warned investors of systemic risks posed by conservative activists’ relentless push to roll back diversity in the workplace, the military, our schools and universities, and even investment firms. “It’s more important than ever,” they wrote, that investors make clear “that there is no light between the fundamentals of investing and promoting equality and fairness in our economy.” The way to do that: Put more money behind those proving it out.  – Dennis Price

Join the next Agents of Impact Call: The State of the Field. ImpactAlpha is pleased to uphold a tradition and host this year’s “State of the Field” roundtable. Join TIIP’s Monique Aiken, Duke’s Cathy Clark, and Fran Seegull of the US Impact Investing Alliance, with other special guests, Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

The Week’s Podcast

🎧 Impact Briefing. Roraj Pradhananga and Jane Swan of Veris Wealth Partners join host Monique Aiken to discuss how the wealth manager is rethinking due diligence to advance gender and racial equity and justice. Plus, the headlines. 

The Week’s Call

Plugged In: Building equitable food systems with community and reparative capital (video). How we grow our food matters. But for over a century, who gets a fair shot at owning and profiting from the agricultural systems that produce our food has been widely inequitable. In this week’s Plugged In conversation, host Sherrell Dorsey spoke with Olivia Watkins of the Black Farmer Fund, which is meeting the modern needs of Black farmers with affordable capital and technical assistance. 

  • Community collaboration. Unlike traditional funding structures, Black Farmer Fund is built on community-led collaboration. Grassroots organizing across the nine northeastern states the fund serves remains a large part of its work. “We bring in folks who represent the community we are serving to sit on the investment committee,” Watkins shared. “They are the ones who are responsible for making the decisions.”

The Week’s Dealflow

Deal spotlight: With incentives and investment, ‘green’ hydrogen gains momentum. When Electric Hydrogen raised $380 million this week, headlines heralded the green hydrogen market’s first unicorn. The Natick, Mass., company’s big raise was the latest in a string of buzzy developments that have catapulted green hydrogen – long seen as a longshot – to the forefront of the decarbonization race. Should we believe the hype? The technology is expensive, energy-intensive and requires infrastructure buildout. “Hydrogen can be such a Swiss army knife,” Energy Impact Partners’ Shayle Kann told ImpactAlpha. “Some people try to apply it to everything.” The key, says Kann, whose $485 million Frontier Fund was an early investor in Electric Hydrogen, is to understand what sectors make sense. Replacing high-emission ammonia production and decarbonizing heavy industry – check. Powering passenger cars – not so fast. Sweden’s H2 Green Steel snagged $1.6 billion last month to finance a large-scale green steel plant powered by clean hydrogen produced on-site.

  • Investment boom. Private equity and venture investors poured $5.7 billion into hydrogen startups and projects last year, according to PitchBook. Paris-based Hy24 Partners last year raised a roughly $2 billion fund focused on developing hydrogen fuel infrastructure. Supercharging it all are generous government incentives. The US Inflation Reduction Act’s 45V production tax credit returns up to $3 per kilogram of low-carbon hydrogen. That not only makes hydrogen projects pencil out long before cost curves kick in; with cheap renewable energy, it can reduce production costs to zero.
  • Glossary. Engineers today use hydrogen to make ammonia for fertilizer and chemicals. Most is derived from natural gas – what’s known as “grey” hydrogen. When emissions generated in the process are captured, it becomes “blue” hydrogen. “Green” hydrogen, in contrast, uses renewable energy to power electrolyzers that split water into hydrogen and oxygen, a process with zero emissions or waste. “Methane pyrolysis,” a relatively new method that produces hydrogen and solid carbon, is considered “turquoise.”
  • Keep reading, “With incentives and investment, ‘green’ hydrogen gains momentum,” by Amy Cortese on ImpactAlpha. 

Agrifood investing. Paine Schwartz Partners raised $1.7 billion for a dedicated food and agribusiness fund… Tikehau Capital invested €120 million in Belgium-based biological pesticide maker Biobest.

Energy transition. Bboxx snagged $17 million World Bank subsidy for clean cookstoves in Rwanda… CrossBoundary Access backed UK-based Mobile Power for battery swapping hubs in Nigeria… Houston-based Amperon Holdings raised $20 million from Energize Capital and others for its energy forecasting and analytics software… Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners closed its third fund to invest in clean energy infrastructure projects in the UK…

…Ashtrom Renewable Energy snagged $270 million in solar project financing… Brookfield’s Global Transition Fund will acquire Banks Group’s renewables portfolio, which includes 11 onshore wind farms in Scotland and the UK… Chicago-based Cultivate Power secured $10 million from Generate Capital to develop community-based solar and storage projects.

Fund news. At One Ventures closed $375 million “deep tech” climate fund… Blue Earth Capital raised over $100 million for a global credit impact fund… Legal & General committed up to $100 million to ImpactA Global to support the women-led investment firm’s infrastructure debt fund.

Green materials. Europe’s FlexSea snagged €2.3 million to develop a seaweed-based alternative to plastic film packaging… Germany’s Traceless Materials raised €36.6 million for a plastic alternative… LA-based Cove scored $6.6 million to sell its compostable packaging materials to consumer-packaged goods companies. 

Impact management. Macquarie Asset Management took a minority stake in Sonen Capital… Seattle’s Muir AI snagged $3.2 million from Base10 Partners.

Inclusive economy. BlueHub Capital has been awarded $65 million in New Markets Tax Credits for investments in manufacturing and community facilities in low-income areas in Boston… Pahal Financial Services received a $12 million loan from DFC to provide microloans and technical assistance to women entrepreneurs in rural India… Rose Smart Growth Investment Advisors closed on $145 million for its latest affordable housing fund. 

Investing in Africa. Revio raised $5.2 million in seed funding to ease digital payments for merchants in Africa… Kua Ventures expanded investments in East Africa’s social impact businesses… With $58 million for African startups, Enza Capital will share profits with founders.

Investing in health. Cortica raised $115 million to expand care for children with autism and neurodiverse conditions.

Waste to value. Mumbai-based waste recycler ReCircle raised an undisclosed amount of pre-Series A funding from Acumen, Flipkart Ventures, and 3i Partners. 

The Week’s Talent

Bamboo Capital Partners named David Grimaud, ex- of Symbiotics, as CEO. After 16 years, Bamboo founder Jean-Philippe de Schrevel is stepping away, following Bamboo’s acquisition earlier this year by Palladium… Karen Sunderam, formerly with UBS, joined ImpactAssets as an investment strategist.

Sonen Capital hired Amanda Feldman, co-founder of the Impact Management Project and Predistribution Initiative, as head of impact engagement… Bridges Fund Management appointed Henry Jones, ex- of Axiom, as partner and head of value creation.

Jennifer Vasiloff stepped down from the Opportunity Finance Network to launch Vasiloff Consulting… Ed Heaven of Montanaro Asset Management, Sonali Siriwardena of Simmons and Simmons and Dimple Mistry at Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC joined the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.

The Week’s Jobs

💼 Share the week’s impact jobs. View dozens of other jobs on our new job board. Want to post a listing? Submit it here.

US East Coast

The Vermont Community Foundation seeks an executive director for the Vermont Women’s Fund in Middlebury, Vt… Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is recruiting a deputy director in Princeton, NJ… Visa is hiring a social impact analyst in Washington, DC… Social Finance is looking for a director of impact investments (green workforce) in Boston… In New York, Ownership Works has an opening for a manager, and Next Street is looking for a capital advisory manager.

Other US locations 

The American Heart Association has an opening for a social impact associate portfolio manager in Dallas… Illumen Capital seeks a chief of staff in Oakland… CalSTRS is on the hunt for an associate portfolio manager for sustainable investment and stewardship strategies in Sacramento.

International locations

International Finance Corp. seeks an investment officer for the Middle East, Central Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan… In Singapore, Schneider Electric is hiring an impact and ESG analyst, and IIX seeks a portfolio management associate vice president… Paramount is recruiting a sustainability senior director in London… Triodos Bank is looking for an investment portfolio officer in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Remote jobs

Mission Investors Exchange is hiring a director/senior director of program content… Supply Change Capital seeks a senior associate… Environmental Defense Fund is on the hunt for a global climate cooperation manager.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– Oct. 6, 2023