The Brief | June 23, 2023

The Week in Impact Investing: Equilibrium

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact! 

🗣 Supply and demand. In economics, a market reaches equilibrium when the demand for a good or service is met by the supply of that good or service. Impact investing remains a market in disequilibrium, where investor demand for impact investments outstrips supply. In the municipal bond markets, the supply of impactful strategies is failing to meet institutional demand, as J.P. Morgan Private Bank’s Preeti Bhattacharji made clear on last week’s Agents of Impact call. Across asset classes, Agents of Impact are working to stock the pipeline and clear the market, by proving out investable theses, staking new funds, and accelerating impact enterprises and entrepreneurs. 

With her third fund, Impact America’s Kesha Cash is seeking to validate the thesis that there’s impact alpha to be found in companies that uplift Black and Brown workers, families and small businesses. Managers like Selma Ribica from First Circle Capital, Hema Vallabh of Five35 Ventures, and Lisa Thomas from Samata Capital are redefining the meaning of “track record” to raise first-time funds and unlock small business capital in Africa. Barbados’s Prime Minister Mia Motley is nudging the World Bank and development finance institutions to be more catalytic in their financing for climate-resilient development. The Biden administration is rebuilding domestic supply chains for everything from electric vehicles to renewable power (see chart, below). In Tuba City, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, Change Labs’ Heather Fleming opened an entrepreneurship hub to support Navajo- and Hopi-owned businesses. Brick by brick, Agents of Impact are creating a new equilibrium. – Dennis Price

The Week’s Podcast

🎧 Impact Briefing. David Bank catches up with Michaela Kauer of the city of Vienna to talk about Vienna’s model of social, affordable housing. Host Brian Walsh has the headlines. 

Viennese waltz. A social innovation more than 100 years old captured the imagination of the Connecting Capital to Communities gathering this week at the Salzburg Global Seminar. Especially since The New York Times called Vienna a “renter’s utopia,” delegations have descended on the city to learn from the city’s approach to social housing, which dates from 1919. The flood is likely to increase after Monocle magazine this week named Vienna the world’s most liveable city. “Keep control of your land. Never sell your municipal housing stock. Never allow yourself to sell your cooperative housing,” Kauer, a housing expert and the city’s representative to the EU in Brussels, advises in this week’s podcast. “Keep this going and running and even enhancing, and protect your tenants.” 

About three-quarters of the city’s two million residents are renters, mostly in municipal housing and cooperative housing. Rents average about 12% of families’ income, compared to about 30% in the US, which is an all-time high. Solutions in housing, and in food and water, were the focus of the Salzburg gathering, which was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (ImpactAlpha was the seminar’s media partner and will feature additional podcast interviews in coming weeks). “We always think that housing is not only a home with four walls and a roof,” Kauer says. “Housing is the center of your life.”

The Week’s Chart

An EV supply chain takes shape. The flood of funding and tax incentives championed by the Biden administration is remaking American manufacturing. The latest signal: the Department of Energy’s $9.2 billion conditional loan to Ford for the construction of three battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee. The loan is among the largest to date by the DOE’s Loan Programs Office, a key conduit for Biden’s efforts to reshore production and supply chains for critical, next-gen technologies such as renewable power, electric vehicles and carbon capture. The Inflation Reduction Act boosted the office’s lending power to more than $400 billion. 

  • Good jobs. The three plants to be built by BlueOval SK, a joint venture of Ford and South Korea’s SK On, are located in disadvantaged communities and are expected to create 7,500 jobs, in keeping with the administration’s Justice40 Initiative. The plants are among the 50 projects, representing $56 billion in investments across the electric vehicle supply chain, that have been announced since the IRA was passed last August, according to Charged’s EV Supply Chain Tracker.
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The Week’s Dealflow

Deal spotlight: Women-led venture capital funds. The venture capital industry, with over $2 trillion in assets under management, is still heavily male-dominated. Women-led funds manage a little under 2% of venture capital. The disparity is even more stark for women of color. This week, Black women-owned Impact America Fund closed $112 million for its third venture fund. The fund is more than double the size of Impact America’s second fund, which raised $55 million in 2020 in what was then one of the largest raises by a solo Black female general partner. Separately, women-led Avaana Capital in India reached a first close of $70 million for a climate and sustainability fund. Avaana, which is targeting a total of $120 million, was founded by Anjali Bansal, a former partner with TPG’s Growth Fund, and Swapna Gupta, who led Qualcomm Ventures’ investment in the region.

  • Gender smart. Bank of America last week said it has committed over $500 million in equity to more than 150 minority- and women-led fund managers. Among them are several women of color-led venture capital funds, including Backstage Capital, The 22 Fund, The BFM Fund, Chingona Ventures, Fearless Fund and Serena Ventures.
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Agrifood investing. Sydney-based biotech startup Number 8 Bio raised pre-seed funding to reduce livestock’s methane emissions using engineered microbes… Washington, DC-based Hydrostat acquired IrriWatch, a Dutch software venture that provides daily updates on soil and crop conditions to farmers globally.  

Climate tech. Satellite-based weather forecasting company raised $87 million in Series E funding.

Financial inclusion. Delhi-based Satya MicroCapital secured $35 million in debt from Finnfund and FMO to provide low-interest loans to women-led households and businesses in rural India… Yellow raised $14 million for solar energy and smartphone financing in Africa. 

Fund news. Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures raised $20 million for impact ventures in emerging markets… MDB Challenge Fund is looking to spur innovation in development finance.

Low-carbon transition. Mumbai-based Everest Fleet, which manages rideshare fleets for Uber and Ola drivers, raised $20 million to add 10,000 electric vehicles to its fleet by 2026… Northvolt secured a $400 million convertible note from Investment Management Corp. of Ontario to expand production of lithium-ion batteries… KoBold Metals raked in $195 million to dig up metals critical for decarbonization, such as lithium and copper… New York-based Fero Labs raised $15 million financing to help steel, cement and chemicals manufacturers reduce their carbon emissions.

Returns on inclusion. Known Holdings merged with Blk Grvty to launch an innovation lab… T. Rowe Price will deposit $50 million with CNote’s cash management. 

Sustainability awareness. GreenPlaces raised $13 million to help restaurants, hotel groups and other businesses implement sustainability plans… Squake snagged €3.5 million to help customers measure their carbon footprint for travel and logistics, including flights, shipping, car rentals and hotels. 

The Week’s Talent

Ariel Hyre was promoted to analyst at Clean Energy Ventures… Lissa Glasgo, ex- of the Global Impact Investing Network, joined Turner Impact Capital as vice president and head of impact… Federal Reserve Bank of New York appointed Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Aisha Benson to its community advisory group… Calvert Impact appointed Grace Eddy, director of Generation Investment Management’s philanthropic arm, to its board of directors.

The Week’s Jobs

💼 Share the week’s impact jobs. Want to post a job in The Brief? Drop us a note.

US East Coast

In New York, Upstart Co-Lab is looking for an operations and communications manager; the Global Impact Investing Network seeks a director of impact measurement and management engagement; and Palladium has openings for an analyst and a director of financial inclusion for its capital advisory services… MCE Social Capital is looking for an impact measurement and management manager in Washington, DC, or elsewhere on the East Coast.

US West Coast

Impact America Fund is hiring a senior manager of finance and operations in Los Angeles… Skoll Foundation seeks a California-based portfolio and investments analyst… Obvious Ventures is recruiting a principal in San Francisco. 

Other US jobs

Mission Investors Exchange is looking for a remote programs coordinator and a member experience coordinatorAlign Impact is recruiting a chief of staff.

Global locations

Investing for Good is looking for an innovative finance co-lead in Barcelona or London… Talvana is recruiting a sustainability associate in London… Tech2impact is recruiting an investor relations analyst in Austria. 

The Alberta Ecotrust Foundation is looking for an impact investing director… Apex Group seeks ESG impact analysts in several locations in India… In Nairobi, Oikocredit has an opening for an investment officer, and 60 Decibels is hiring an agriculture manager.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– June 23, 2023