The Brief | October 7, 2022

The Week in impact investing: Gateways

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact! We’re taking a Brief break for Monday’s U.S. holiday. We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday, Oct. 11. 

🗣 Leveling up. Each advance creates its own contradictions – and lays the groundwork for the next stage of progress. While some politicians try to turn back the ESG tide, leading venture capital investors are adopting environmental, social and governance investment frameworks to drive value and reduce risks, as ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese reports (QED’s Mike Packer dives deeper into fintech and ESG). The next stage is tangible impact itself, as measured by the percentage of a company’s revenues derived from solutions that demonstrably advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and other impact priorities. The French banking giant Societe Generale signaled support for such an approach with an investment in the Canadian ratings-agency Impak. California-based Carbon Collective uses a similar approach in selecting companies for its Climate Solutions ETF, as Zach Stein explains on this week’s Impact Briefing podcast. The next step, writes Impact Experience’s Jenna Nicholas, is to give everyday investors such climate-forward choices as part of their employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement plans, which collectively hold more than $8 trillion in assets. 

In Medellin last month, eco-warriors were determined to demonstrate that blockchain isn’t a solution without a problem, but is itself a gateway to more transparent and decentralized regenerative finance, as ImpactAlpha’s Dan Keeler reported from Colombia. ImpactAlpha and Realize Impact spotlight emerging impact fund managers on The Liist, like Five35 Ventures and Africa Trust Group, both women-led and opening portals to new solutions. The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance shows how Agents of Impact are reimagining finance with guarantees, alternative credit scoring, insurance, technical assistance and other financial tools, as Cortese reports. “Tackling difficult challenges in the climate finance space is our raison d’être,” the Lab’s Ben Broché told ImpactAlpha. Impact is a gateway to opportunity. That’s ImpactAlpha’s raison d’être and, we suspect, yours as well. – David Bank and Dennis Price

🎧 Impact Briefing. Host Monique Aiken has the headlines and ImpactAlpha’s David Bank catches up with Zach Stein of Carbon Collective to talk about how average investors with 401(k) retirement accounts can start to shift trillions of dollars away from fossil fuels and toward climate solutions. 

The Week’s Agent of Impact

Regina Kline, Enable Ventures: Closing the disability gap. Regina Kline has seen the state of labor and employment for disabled Americans up close, as a lawyer representing workers with disabilities. Three decades after the Americans With Disabilities Act, almost two-thirds of the disabled population remain unemployed. Nearly half of disabled Americans live in long-term poverty. Kline came to see that equity requires “a concerted effort to move capital and investment towards great ideas wherever they live in the disability community.” Then Kline met Jim Sorenson, the billionaire founder of Sorenson Impact, who made his fortune applying video compression technology to realtime captioning to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people communicate more fluidly (Sorenson’s brother-in-law inspired the idea). With Sorenson, Kline created Enable Ventures to invest in companies closing the disability wealth and opportunity gaps.  

Enable will fund growth-stage ventures founded by or for people with disabilities. Kline sees opportunities in upskilling, work tech and education tech. Globally, there are some 1.8 billion people that identify as disabled; everyone is likely to be disabled at some point in their life, perhaps through a broken bone, illness or age-related decline. Covid was “a mass disability event,” Kline says: the barriers to simply leaving the house demonstrated the need for flexibility and adaptability. Design for disability “really is inherently better design,” she says. “The founders that we see every day are designing to reach more people, and to exclude fewer through universal and inclusive design.”

The Week’s Dealflow

Deal spotlight. Mega climate deals. Mega funds are finding mega deals. Multi-billion dollar funds from private equity giants like TPG Rise and Brookfield are deploying hundreds of millions (and even billions!) of dollars at a time to seize trillion-dollar opportunities presented by the energy transition. Brookfield’s $15 billion Global Transition Fund, the largest energy transition fund, this week announced it will invest up to $2 billion to acquire U.S. renewable energy companies Scout Clean Energy and Standard Solar. Scout and Standard Solar will continue to operate as independent businesses. Separately, Brookfield formed a $550 million partnership with Chicago-based carbon tech venture LanzaTech. Brookfield will invest another $500 million if LanzaTech hits certain milestones. 

  • Long-life batteries. TPG Rise Climate, TPG’s $5.4 billion climate fund, led Form Energy’s $450 million Series E financing. The Boston, Mass.-based long-life battery manufacturer also received investments from Breakthrough Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, The Engine, Temasek, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and others. The company is looking to commercialize its iron and air-based batteries that enable renewable energy projects to cheaply store power (for context, see, “Form Energy scores backing from TPG’s $5.4 billion climate fund“).
  • Share this post

Clean energy. InfraCo Africa and Equatorial Power will invest $1.7 million to develop solar mini-grids in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo… Bluestar Energy Capital launched with $100 million for renewable energy development… Costa Rica’s Greenenergy raised $5 million to finance on-site clean energy systems for businesses… LineVision raised $33 million to help utilities decarbonize… Shell’s New Energies acquired Nigerian solar energy provider Daystar Power to help Daystar expand to East and Southern Africa.

Affordable housing. Mumbai-based Syntellect secured an undisclosed investment from Reall to facilitate affordable housing loans in emerging markets… Nigeria’s Spleet scored $2.6 million in seed financing to facilitate flexible rent payments for low- and middle-income renters.

Economic inclusion. Merck made a $20 million commitment to CNote to support businesses in underserved communities in the U.S… South African home cleaning service SweepSouth raised $11 million, led by Alitheia IDF… Oikocredit contributed $1.5 million to Ghana-based Farmerline’s pre-Series A round to connect West African farmers to inputs and markets. 

Electric vehicles. Loop raised $60 million to expand its network of electric vehicle charging stations in the U.S… New Delhi-based Mufin Green Finance snagged 450 million rupees to offer electric vehicle financing in India.

Inclusive communities. Arctaris Impact Investors reupped its investment in Up to Date Laundry through its $25 million Arctaris’ Baltimore Opportunity Zone initiative… Town Hall Ventures raised $350 million to improve healthcare delivery to underserved communities. 

Impact tech. Brazilian fintech venture Ali raised $25 million to help Brazilian workers reduce their debt loads… Nova Credit, a cross-border credit reporting agency that helps migrants build credit histories, secured $10 million from HSBC… A $150 million fund is aiming to curb food waste by investing in Africa’s cold chain… TechStars, Flat6Labs and others backed Tunisian water tech startup Kumulus Water.

Managing impact. Societe Generale took a stake in impact ratings-agency Impak and adopts the company’s ratings system.

The Week’s Talent

Joe Condo, ex- of Orsted, joins Bluestar’s Nova Clean Energy as head of development; Cortney Zaret, also ex- of Orsted, joins as head of accounting and administration; Dylan Reeves, ex- of General Electric Renewable Energy, joins as head of project delivery; and Dennis Meany, the former president of Lincoln Clean Energy, becomes president and board member.

Guillaume Abel, ex- of Ostrum Asset Management, joins Mirova as deputy CEO; Sébastien Duquet, formerly with Symbiotics, joins Mirova SunFunder to lead its climate fund… KPMG promotes John McCalla-Leacy to global head of ESG… Aligned Climate Capital promotes Nneka (Uzoh) Kibuule to principal… Ari David, ex- of AUA Private Equity, and Manasi Desai, ex- of KKR, join Ara Partners as vice presidents… John Holl, ex- of ACT Commodities, joins Clear Sky Advisers as president of North American carbon and environmental trading. 

Energize Ventures makes four hires: Jeff Smith, ex- of Norwest Venture Partners, joins as head of commercialization; David Yi joins as portfolio finance specialist; and Meredith Breach, ex- of Vista Equity Partners, and Jarell Mason, ex- of Houston Impact Fund, join as senior investment associates… Leroy Barber, co-founder of Voices Project, joins Neighborhood Economics as an executive director.

The Week’s Jobs

Farmers Business Network seeks a remote managing director of equity investments… Bluestar Energy Capital seeks a senior director of business development in Dublin and a director of business development in Chicago… Christopher Whitney is recruiting a chief operating officer to lead its impact investing team in San Francisco… ASU Enterprise Partners is hiring an ESG investing student assistant in Tempe, Ariz… Wakefern Food Corp. is recruiting a manager of corporate social responsibility in Edison, N.J… West Africa Blue is looking for a blue carbon associate in Sierra Leone.

The Nature Conservancy is looking for an entities operations manager for the U.S. and Latin America, a land and water protection associate in Michigan, and several other roles… HIP Investor is looking for a remote ESG impact investing analyst… MCE Social Capital is recruiting a manager in Nairobi… CapRock seeks a client advisor, a head of corporate development, and an investment associateRSF Social Finance is looking for a remote senior associate for philanthropic services and operations… Climate Nexus is recruiting a remote energy transition communications manager… Austin Community Foundation is hiring fund services coordinators.

U.C. Santa Barbara seeks a projects and operations coordinator and a communications and outreach coordinator for its 2035 Initiative… In the Washington, D.C. area: The Federal Reserve Board is hiring an economic editor for research and statistics; Open Society Foundations is recruiting a program officer for corporate accountability and worker rights; Breakthrough Energy is hiring a government relations manager; International Foundation for Electoral Systems seeks an inclusion program officer and specialist in Arlington, Va… Sierra Club seeks a climate campaign representative in College Park, Md… The DFC seeks a managing director of supervisory investment funds and several other roles.

Beneficial State Bank is hiring a remote chief impact officer in Oakland, Calif… Skoll Foundation seeks a portfolio and investments analyst in Palo Alto, Calif… Convergence is hiring a manager for its market acceleration and design funding team in Toronto and several other roles… Google is looking for a director for global decarbonization strategy and program management in Mountain View, Calif., and a racial equity analyst; World Economic Forum seeks a future of consumption lead; The Humane League is looking for a senior manager of public policy campaigns; and Acre is recruiting a vice president of impact investments.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– Oct. 7, 2022