The Brief | June 12, 2020

The Week in impact investing: Justice

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact!

Thanks to the hundreds of Agents of Impact who participated in yesterday’s Call No. 18, “Monitoring and managing for impact in the time of COVID.” We’ll have a full report and audio replay next week.

Impact Briefing. On this week’s podcast, Brian Walsh has the headlines, Amy Cortese talks employee ownership (see No. 1) and Dennis Price profiles CareAcademy’s Helen Adeosun, this week’s Agent of Impact (see below). Tune in, share, and follow us on AppleSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Call No. 19: Investing in green infrastructure to weather the recession. The pandemic-induced pause in greenhouse gas emissions has provided a glimpse of a low-carbon future. At the same time, long-term, steady yields have rarely looked so attractive. ImpactAlpha’s next Agents of Impact call will explore investments in clean energy and green infrastructure as a path to carbon neutrality – and an income anchor in a portfolio. Join sponsor Greenbacker Capital’s David Sher and other special guests, Thursday, June 18 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

The Week’s Big 8

1. Black and brown employee ownership for the post-COVID economy. Employee ownership can save small businesses and help close the racial wealth gap, write Philip Reeves and Todd Leverette of Apis & Heritage Capital in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. Employee ownership startup and buyout practitioners are scaling time-tested models. Hear them out.

2. Diverse fund managers are ready to shift capital at scale. The COVID-19 crisis and growing civil rights movement present a “Kairos moment,” says VC Include’s Bahiyah Robinson. In a guest post on ImpactAlpha, she calls on family offices, endowments, foundations and advisors to channel capital through diverse fund managers to under-represented founders for innovation, impact and alpha. “The opportunity starts with changing our collective relationship to money and access to capital.” Level up.

  • New funds. Collab Capital launches fund for Black founders… SoftBank creates $100 million fund for entrepreneurs of color… Andreesen Horowitz spins up an “accelerator for the unseen” and a small donor-advised fund for diverse founders… Also, more than 70 investors signed Confluence Philanthropies’ “Belonging Pledge,” committing to discuss racial equity at their next investment committee meeting.
  • Dig in. The Black Founder list from People of Color in Tech includes nearly 250 Black founders that have received venture capital backing… Candide Group’s Jasmine Rashid compiled “The financial activist playbook for supporting Black lives.”

3. Companies, capital and creatives aim for justice. Media producers can hold up stories, entrepreneurs can change lives, and investors can seek impact alpha in the inclusion of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. “Representation matters,” said Erika AlexanderLiving Single actress and co-founder of Color Farm Media. Alexander was among the Agents of Impact presenting a vision of systemic change at SOCAP’s Spectrum conference this week. The takeaways.

4. Corporate impact face-off: Nestlé vs. Danone. How do Nestlé and Danone stack up on sustainability and impact? In the first installment of Impak Battles, a new ImpactAlpha series, impact ratings agency impak uses its rating methodology to assess the positive and negative impacts of the two European agri-food giants. Face-off.

5. COVID-recovery opportunities in Nigeria’s healthcare value chain. A flurry of health tech investments demonstrate opportunities to reverse years of neglect and waste in Nigeria’s healthcare sector. Innovative approaches “are needed to ensure that Nigerians have access to quality and affordable care, while helping to build a robust healthcare system,” Sterling Bank’s Ayotunde Aladejana writes in a guest post. Dive in.

6. Gender-based violence as a material risk (podcast). On ImpactAlpha’s Returns on Investment podcast, Criterion Institute’s Joy Anderson argues that remote work has made domestic violence a workplace issue that companies need to address. “As we’re looking to rebuild industries, is there a way to rebuild it stronger?” Tune in.

7. Environmental concerns drive Australian impact investing. Most of Australian investors’ $20 billion in impact allocations are environmentally-focused, as the country grapples with the impact of climate change, from dying coral reef to raging wildfires. The rundown.

8. Can quant strategies improve ESG performance? Responsible investment funds outperformed the broader market in the recent stock slump – barely. “ESG can and should do better,” says Welton Investment Partners’ Basil WilliamsGeek out.

The Week’s Agent of Impact

Helen Adeosun, CareAcademy. When the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, Helen Adeosun knew it would hit seniors especially hard. Within 10 days, CareAcademy had popped up online classes to help tens of thousands of home-health aides, non-medical caregivers, and personal care aides deliver frontline care for the elderly. “Home care workers have always been essential workers,” Adeosun told ImpactAlpha. “We’re not training them for new skills, we’re enhancing skills that people are already doing.” The four-year old startup has certified over 100,000 caregivers to unlock the potential of under-appreciated home-care professionals. “CareAcademy is being built around the value of the direct care worker,” said Kesha Casha of Impact America Fund, which led the company’s $9.5 million financing this week.

Adeosun, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria, worked as a home-health aide in high school and college before graduating from University of Notre Dame and Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. “I come from a long line of women who have tapped into their communities and tapped into their own skill sets and built companies that did well within their respective settings,” she says. The aging population is driving 8% annual growth in the home healthcare market. CareAcademy’s courses cut training costs for home-care agencies and help caregivers deliver better services. That helps low-wage workers gain in-demand skills, advance in their careers and increase their incomes. As COVID rages on, Adeosun and co-founder Madhuri Reddy have set their sights on upskilling and reskilling one million Americans for healthcare work. “I am the wildest dreams of my ancestors,” Adeosun says. – Dennis Price

The Week’s Dealflow

COVID response. Ford, MacArthur, Kellogg and other foundations plan to issue bonds to boost grantmaking to nonprofits through the recession… Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance launches relief fund for COVID-affected African startups.

Frontier finance. Sun Exchange closes $4 million round to crowd-finance community solar… Dragon Farming secures loan to expand smallholder reach in Ghana.

Inclusive economy. Squire secures $34 million for financial services for barbershops… Tajir raises $1.8 million to help mom and pop shops source and manage inventory.

Impact tech. Prime Impact Fund leads Clean Crop’s $3 million round… ‘Smart sewage’ startup raises $4.2 million to track COVID-19.

Low-carbon economy. Electric truck maker Nikola goes public via ‘special purpose acquisition company’… Tembici raises $47 million to expand e-bike sharing in Latin America.

Catalytic capital. Blue Finance and Ocean Outcomes receive funding to structure blended-finance solutions.

Impact equities. Credit Suisse readies new environmental fund.

The Week’s Talent

Monique Aiken and Anjali Deshmukh of Mission Investors Exchange are hosting a Twitter chat today to help the impact investing community mobilize around racial justice. Use #RacialEquityImpInv from 2-4pm ET… Credit union veteran Maurice Smith becomes the new chairman of the board for the National Cooperative Bank.

The Week’s Jobs

500 Startups is hiring a director for the Middle East and North Africa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia… New Media Ventures is recruiting a head of investments… JPMorgan Chase seeks an ESG specialist for its Global Index Research Group in New York… Phenix Capital needs an impact investing intern in Amsterdam… Blue Access is recruiting a chief impact officer and looking for a water justice intern in New York.

The University of Cape Town’s Bertha Centre has openings for innovative finance consultants… New American Economy is recruiting a part-time senior policy fellow in New York… MovingWorlds Institute is seeking early- and mid-career professionals for its Global Fellowship… Global Impact Investing Network seeks a development officer… Wellington Management is hiring a private equity principal in Boston or London to lead a climate-focused venture fund.

Good Food Institute is looking for a research fellow… ThePlug launches a 10-week data journalism fellowship focused on tech companies and racial justice… The Black Startup Collective is compiling a directory of Black-owned ventures to support their exposure and access to capital and resources… Arabella Advisors is hiring a senior director of strategy and strategic implementation services.

Town Hall Ventures is looking for a vice president in New York… Omidyar Network seeks a senior vice president/head of programs in Redwood City, Calif. or Washington, D.C… American Century Investments is recruiting an ESG research analyst in New York… Kiva is hiring an impact investment intern in Portland.

Thank you for reading.

–June 12, 2020