The Week in Impact Investing: Ready

The team at

ImpactAlpha

TGIF, Agents of Impact! We’re taking a Brief break for the U.S. holiday. We’ll be back in your in-box on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

🗣 Seize the day. The vibe has shifted. If “impact” a few years ago connoted concessionary returns, it has increasingly come to mean alpha outperformance. “There’s a seismic change,” TPG’s Jon Winkelried told analysts this week. “If you thought of a landscape of sectors you might want to be involved in, they overlap the impact investing marketplace very strongly.” Other publicly listed private equity giants like Brookfield, KKR and Apollo likewise touted their climate and impact performance (and fundraising), as Amy Cortese reported. Significantly, human capital and other “S” factors – for social – are providing a lift along with the “E,” as we’ll explore on next week’s Agents of Impact Call (RSVP). Ariel Alternatives raised $1.5 billion from major corporate buyers to buy up supplier companies and diversify their management. “We are applying typical traditional private equity elements,” Ariel’s Leslie Brun told Amy, Jessica Pothering and Roodgally Senatus in a Q&A. “We’re just doing those things and employing Black and Brown talent that we know exists within corporate America that’s often overlooked.”

All of that suggests increasing demand for the experience and skill sets of Agents of Impact. Ceniarth’s Greg Neichin shared hard-won lessons for deploying catalytic capital as part of ImpactAlpha’s “Scaling Impact” series with the Catalytic Capital Consortium. Dalberg’s Kusi Hornberger laid out a half-dozen overdue financial paradigm shifts. Employee ownership is finally having a moment, as Project Equity’s Alison Lingane tells me on this week’s Impact Briefing podcast (and Social Capital Partners’ Jonathan Shell and Bill Young are seeking to demonstrate through their Ownership Fund). Even approaches that address human rights abuses are becoming investable, as Working Capital Fund’s Evan Okun detailed in the case of the electric-vehicle supply chain. When he was getting his MBA, Okun says, he told his mentor he wanted to pursue impact investing. “Read ImpactAlpha every week for the next two years,” he was advised. He did. Agents of Impact have spent years making the creation of social and environmental value a signal for outperformance. The rest of the market is learning: get impact ready, get impact alpha. – David Bank

👋 Join next week’s Call: Year of the ‘S.’ Human capital. Worker ownership. Community resiliency. Social factors are at the top of this year’s impact policy agenda. Special guests Cambria Allen Ratzlaff of JUST Capital, Jesse Van Tol of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and Jack Moriarty of Ownership America join Fran Seegull and David Bank to explore policy strategies and actionable opportunities, Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

The Week’s Impact Briefing

🎧 On this week’s podcast: Project Equity’s Alison Lingane talks with ImpactAlpha’s David Bank about the growing popularity of employee ownership as a strategy for generating wealth and democratizing the economy. Host Monique Aiken has the headlines.

The Week’s Agent of Impact

Rihanna: Shining star power on inclusion in music and business. Years before this week’s elegant and understated Super Bowl appearance, Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty turned down the NFL’s invitation to headline the world’s biggest stage. Her choice was an act of solidarity with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was sidelined after he took a knee to protest racial injustice. This year, she accepted, with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation as executive producer and the opportunity to go back-to-back with last year’s headliners, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Mary J Blige. “It’s powerful to break those doors and have representation at such a high, high level and a consistent level,” Rihanna told British Vogue.

  • The Fenty effect. In music and business, the Barbados-born megastar has led with representation. Fenty Beauty, the $2.8 billion cosmetics business she founded with luxury goods brand LVMH, opened new markets with 40 shades of foundation. “Suddenly beauty houses – niche, establishment and those in between – began extending their shade ranges to accommodate a wider variety of skin tones,” Funmi Fetto wrote in British Vogue. Along with 50% of Fenty Beauty and 30% of Savage X Fenty, a separate billion-dollar lingerie company, the nine-time Grammy winner owns the master recordings of her music. 
  • Representation and justice. As a mom (with another on the way), Rihanna is thinking more about the world she’ll leave her kids. Her philanthropy, the Clara Lionel Foundation, supports climate resilience and justice projects in the U.S. and Caribbean focused on and led by women, youth, Black, Indigenous, people of color and LGBTQ+ communities (the foundation last month joined Ford Foundation and others calling for more support for Black feminist organizations). Among her venture investments is Partake Foods, a Black and Asian-owned brand that sells allergen-free cookies. Rihanna is taking on the challenge once laid down by Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund: “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.”
  • Keep reading, “Rihanna: Shining star power on inclusion in music and business,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha and share the story on Instagram.

The Week’s Dealflow

Deal spotlight: An old-fashioned IPO with a climate twist. A climate tech company has scored the biggest IPO so far in 2023. Fremont, Calif.-based Nextracker, which optimizes solar panels as the sun moves, listed on Nasdaq last week, raising $638 million – almost 20% more than the company’s target. The deal underscores investors’ appetite for climate tech and energy-transition solutions, a bright spot in the slump in venture capital and public listings. Enlight Renewable Energy, a publicly-traded company in Israel, also went public in the U.S. last week, raising $252 million in its own IPO. Notably, both listed “the old-fashioned way,” eschewing the SPACs, or special purpose acquisition vehicles that were so hot in 2021. SPACs have had mixed success, particularly for deep tech and climate tech companies.

  • Path to IPO. Nextracker launched in 2013 when total global solar capacity was less than 137 gigawatts. Nearly twice that amount of capacity was installed in 2022 alone (the global total stands at about 1.1 terrawatts). Nextracker accounts for 30% of the solar tracking market. Impact funds helped Nextracker grow. SJF Ventures and DBL Investors participated in the company’s Series B round in 2014. TPG Rise Climate invested $500 million last year (related: “TPG touts strong fundraising – and results – for its climate and impact strategies”).
  • Climate clamor. ImpactAlpha’s dealflow feed is overflowing with climate investments (see below). Solar, battery storage and EVs are the big winners, but emerging sectors, such as green buildings and refrigeration, and geographies like India and Africa, also are attracting capital. Investors are getting behind companies using climate tech as a driver of social equity, such as ChargerHelp in South L.A., which this week raised $17.5 million to build a new class of green jobs with good pay. Send us details of your impact deals, clean and climate tech or otherwise.
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Clean energy. California-based mini-grid developer BoxPower raised $5 million from Swell Energy and Aligned Climate Capital… Denham Capital acquired Solops, a commercial and industrial solar financier and owner in the U.S… Zurich-based MPower raised equity from investors and via crowdfunding to sell off-grid solar products in Africa.

Climate finance. Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds PGB appointed U.K.-based investment manager Osmosis to direct $4.5 billion into companies having a positive environmental impact… 

Sand to Green secured $1 million to regenerate Morocco’s desert… Seven blue economy startups secured seed funding to enhance climate resilience in Africa… Earth Finance launched with $14 million from investors to help corporations map out net-zero strategies.

Climate tech. Acumen backed Nairobi-based SokoFresh to provide smallholder farmers with access to solar-powered cold storage… Fiberwood in Finland secured €3 million to make eco-friendly building insulation… Berlin-based Planet A Ventures raised €160 million to back European climate tech ventures… Lowercarbon Capital, the Clean Energy Finance Corp. and others Australia-based Loam Bio raised $73 million for its crop inputs that could help farmers sequester more carbon in soil.

EVs and batteries. Ford Motor is investing $3.5 billion in an EV battery production facility in Michigan… Turno, which is helping India’s commercial fleet operators switch to electric vehicles, raised $13.8 million… Redwood Materials arranged a $2 billion Department of Energy loan for an EV battery facility.

Financial inclusion. InsuranceDekho raised $150 million in debt and equity to expand insurance coverage in India… Spanish-language digital bank Comun secured $4.5 million from investors… Agricover Credit issued a $9 million bond with help from Symbiotics to help Romania’s smallholder farmers secure financing and new technologies… Morocco’s Chari secured $1 million to provide small businesses with logistics services and inventory financing. 

Impact tech. BuuPass raised $1.3 million to improve Kenya’s mass transit system… Egypt’s Yodawy raised $16 million to digitize prescriptions… EchoVC, which invests in underserved founders and markets, backed Kenyan logistics startup Senga. 

Returns on inclusion. Community Preservation Corp. invested $5 million in SHIFT Catalyst Fund to back diverse developers… Social Capital Partners widened its ‘ownership lens’ with a $2 million fund.

The Week’s Talent

David Malpass, the embattled president of the World Bank, will step down by June… President Biden named Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard as his economic adviser, replacing Brian Deese, who will step down this month… Casey Gunkel, ex- of General Atlantic, will join Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, an Alphabet spinoff, as head of communications next week… Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, ex- of East Bay Community Foundation, was named president of Known Holdings… The Vistria Group’s Mona Sutphen joined Novata’s board of directors.

The Week’s Jobs

East Coast

In New York, the Rockefeller Foundation is looking for a regenerative agriculture manager; the Global Impact Investing Network has an opening for a sustainable finance program manager and an associate director of peer learning; the Lede Company seeks a social impact director; Blue Dot Capital seeks a senior associate or associate for ESG research and integration; Ownership Works is recruiting a director for equity-based plan structuring and implementation; and UN Women is hiring an accountability framework lead… Organon is looking for an ESG communications director in Jersey City, N.J.

In Washington, D.C., IDB Lab is recruiting a consultant for startup equity investments, and the World Resources Institute is hiring a global director for a food, land and water program… The Office of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry is hiring a forest senior advisor (U.S. citizens only)… Citi is recruiting a Miami-based sustainability and ESG director for Latin America… The Coca-Cola Company is hiring an impact investing senior director in Atlanta… Bain Capital has an opening for an ESG manager for impact measurement and reporting in Boston… Two Sigma Impact has an opening for an operating associate in Portland, Maine.

West Coast 

The SCAN Foundation seeks a remote program manager in Long Beach, Calif… Stanford University is looking for an assistant director for diversity, equity and inclusion… The Skoll Foundation has an opening for a portfolio and investments analyst in Palo Alto, Calif… AEG is recruiting a sustainability program manager in Los Angeles… Nike seeks a global sustainability planning director in Oregon.

Global opportunities

MaRS Discovery District has an opening for a climate and cities senior manager in Toronto… Sarona Asset Management is looking for an investment analyst in Singapore… PwC is hiring a responsible business manager in Australia… The U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific is looking for a temporary sustainable development officer in Thailand… Luminate seeks a partner support analyst in several global locations. 

In London, Bloomberg is recruiting a team lead for net-zero research and data; the LEGO Group is looking for a senior director of sustainability engagement; and Forum for the Future is recruiting a private sector development manager (or New York)… BlueOrchard is hiring a technical assistance expert for the InsuResilience Investment Fund in Switzerland…The IFC seeks an investment officer for disruptive tech and venture capital in Europe. 

Other locations and remote jobs

Kresge Foundation has an opening for a senior health program officer in Troy, Mich… Textile Exchange is looking for a climate and impact coordinator in Lamesa, Texas… GreenBiz Group is recruiting a nature analyst… Voyager Ventures has an opening for a senior associate… Mission Driven Finance has an opening for a director of real estate asset management… Digital Green seeks a program strategy director… Tiffany Manuel’s TheCaseMade is looking for a business manager… 20 Degrees is recruiting a social finance director. 

Jobs for the Future is hiring a senior analyst for JFF Ventures, its impact investing arm… VentureESG seeks a crypto and web3 research fellow and an emerging economies and ESG research fellow… Impact Frontiers is hiring an associate or senior associate… Entrepreneurship Funders Network has an opening for a program manager… Equity Accelerator seeks a senior project manager… Mission Investors Exchange is looking for a director of member experience and director or senior director of communicationsWefunder is hiring a head of community.

💼 Share the week’s impact jobs.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful (long) weekend. 

– Feb 17, 2022