The Brief | October 15, 2021

The Week in impact investing: Real life

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact! 

⚡ Next Call: Catalytic climate capital. Global investment in the low-carbon transition looks likely to cross the $1 trillion mark this year, but capital gaps persist, from early-stage innovation to commercialization and project financing. Agents of Impact Call No. 33 will bring together innovative entrepreneurs and investors who are using catalytic capital to bridge the gaps and accelerate climate action. Dig into credit-enhancement, off-take agreements, project equity and blended financing solutions from Prime Coalition, Breakthrough Energy, The LEAF Coalition, Convergence and others, Tuesday, October 26th at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

🗣️ Last Call: Black tech, green solutions for the planet and the people (video). Invest in climate action for the planet – and the people. “Climate change is a public health issue, it’s a social justice issue and it’s an economic issue,” Include Ventures’ Taj Eldridge said on this week’s Agents of Impact Call, “Black tech, green solutions,” co-hosted by The Plug and ImpactAlpha. “We’re investing to save Kesha, to save Taj, to save Derek and everyone else.” Eldridge, along with Kameale Terry of ChargerHelp, SaLisa Berrien of COI Energy and Donnel Baird of BlocPower are tackling climate and environmental challenges close to home. “It’s not about $3.5 trillion or $2 trillion,” said Baird, referring to the infrastructure and spending bills pending in the U.S. Congress. “It’s about people’s kidneys. It’s about kids with asthma. It’s real.” The climate ground war will be won block by block, building by building. It’s not “put a man-on-the-moon” aspirational, Baird says. “No, we can go into our communities and actually impact things for the better.” Read the recap and watch the replay.

🎧  Impact Briefing. On this week’s podcast, roundtable regulars Imogen Rose-Smith and David Bank join host Brian Walsh to discuss the U.K.’s surprisingly ambitious climate plans and the comparative caution of the nation’s institutional investors as the country prepares to host the COP26 climate summit. Plus, the headlines. Tune in, share and follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen.

The Week’s Agent of Impact

Aunnie Patton Power, impact advisor and author. Being an investment banker in Chicago as a recent graduate wasn’t working for Patton Power. “I was given a copy of Muhammad Yunus’ book, “Creating a World Without Poverty,” and decided that I was done making rich people richer and helping companies that didn’t care about the world succeed,” she says. She quit her job, sold her things and set off traveling, which landed Patton Power at Unitus Capital in Bangalore, India. Now based in Cape Town, South Africa, she wears many hats in the field. She teaches impact investing to graduate students at Oxford University, the London School of Economics, New York University and the University of Cape Town. She recently published Adventure Finance to explicate creative financing options for founders and investors. And she advises on impact deal structuring and invests herself in early-stage social ventures through Dazzle, a women’s angel network. “My entire career has been focused on financial structuring,” she says. “I believed from early on that how we fund impact matters as much as what we fund.” 

Patton Power’s latest project: Impact Finance Pro, an impact investing recruitment platform that she developed with Ashley Lewis of Accion Venture Lab to help impact investing newbies and career-switchers navigate the still “very opaque” impact career space, she says. Another key objective is helping the impact investing industry diversify its talent and skills. “We need more diversity, not just in terms of gender and racial diversity, but also more diversity in terms of socio-economic backgrounds, lived experiences, geographies, values and skills,” she says. The most challenging and exciting roles will be those that help investors develop fluency and fluidity across asset classes and types of capital. “Getting really smart, passionate young people and more senior people into the space is how we grow this and work towards the mainstream,” she says. It’s important, she adds, “that individuals who may not be at the top schools are able to bring their lived experiences into this space through their experience and tenacity and willingness to work hard.” – Jessica Pothering

The Week’s Big 4

1. How the U.K. and its institutional investors are taking on climate change. Institutional investors in the U.K., which are by nature conservative, are recognizing the risks of climate change and are reducing their fossil fuel exposure. Still, they remain a long way from making substantive long-term investment changes, writes Imogen Rose-Smith in her latest Institutional Impact column. “And we’re running out of time.” Don’t stop here.

  • Countdown to COP. The International Energy Agency decries the ‘ambition gap’ in a new World Energy Outlook that offered a stark assessment two weeks before a make-or-break global climate summit in Glasgow. “A wave of investment in a sustainable future must be driven by an unmistakable signal from Glasgow,” the IEA warns. Current pledges by governments fall 80% short of what’s needed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Dive in

2. Building the evidence base for catalytic capital. Financing for smallholder farmers in Africa. Early-stage climate innovation. Employee ownership. Indigenous entrepreneurs. The Catalytic Capital Consortium, or C3, created by the MacArthur and Rockefeller foundations and Omidyar Network, greenlit more than a dozen deep dives into the complexities of using risk-tolerant, flexible, patient or concessionary capital to achieve impact objectives. (Disclosure: C3 sponsors ImpactAlpha’s coverage of catalytic capital.) Keep reading.

  • Reimagining capitalism. Separately, Omidyar Network committed $10 million in grants to organizations with new models and policy planks to empower stakeholders to hold companies accountable. Recipients include Americans For Financial Reform, B Lab and The Shareholder Commons. (Omidyar Network sponsors ImpactAlpha’s coverage of capitalism reimagined.) 

3. Racial equity in community reinvestment. An update to the Community Reinvestment Act must fix a glaring hole – racial equity. Karim Hutson of Genesis Companies, a Black-owned real estate development firm in New York, calls for the explicit recognition of race in a modernized CRA. “A renewed CRA needs to target every income level for racial groups that have suffered from government-supported discrimination and inequity,” Hutson writes in a guest post. Onward.

4. Five dimensions of impact (video). What. Who. How much. Contribution. And risk.This week’s video from Duke University’s Cathy Clark explores how the Impact Management Project’s five dimensions of impact add context to help investors and business leaders make better decisions. In ImpactAlpha’s Optimizing for Impact series, Clark offers her favorite short videos from the new Coursera course, “Impact Measurement and Management for the SDGs.” Take a spin.

The Week’s Dealflow

Spotlight: Impact unicorns in emerging markets. Big markets. Big impact. Big valuations. TPG Rise Climate, which has raised more than $5 billion, along with ADQ, an Abu Dhabi state-owned fund, will invest a combined $1 billion in a new unit of Tata Motors that aims to power up India’s nascent electric car market. The deal values Tata Motors EV at just over $9 billion. Tata plans to launch 10 EV passenger models over five years and, with Tata Power, build out India’s EV charging infrastructure for passenger cars. More.

  • Billion dollar valuations. LeapFrog Investments this week led CarDekho’s $250 million raise for its online vehicle marketplace in India, which valued the company at $1.2 billion. Last month, Softbank funding helped make Konfio and Andela emerging market impact unicorns.

Financial inclusion. Nigeria’s Mono secures $15 million to roll out Plaid-like digital financial services in Africa… Zeal Capital Partners backs New York-based fintech venture Stratyfy to help financial institutions create fair access to credit… Colombia-based fintech Sempli raises $10 million from IDB LAB, Oikocredit, Incofin, Enabling Capital and Symbiotics to accelerate lending to small businesses… 2150 raises nearly €270 million to reimagine cities… Lively secures $80 million for its digital health savings accounts to help Americans save for unexpected healthcare costs.

Agrifood investing. Creation Investments, Omnivore, Northern Arc and others invest $30 million in ReshaMandi, an agri-marketplace digitizing India’s silk supply chain… SWEN Capital Partners leads a €4.1 million financing round for Norway’s OptoScale, which makes monitoring software and sensors for fish farms… Agua Bonita scores $2 million to make beverages from produce that would otherwise be wasted.

Climate finance. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, in partnership with Conservation International, commits $20 million to accelerate community-led, nature-based projects that produce carbon credits for the voluntary markets… Proceeds from Autodesk’s $1 billion sustainability bond will finance projects in sustainable water and wastewater management, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and green buildings.

Fund news. Lendable taps European fund structure for $100 million emerging markets fund… Rubio Impact Ventures closes its €110 million second fund to invest in Dutch impact ventures… Center Creek’s impact fund raises $30 million to invest in affordable single-family homes… AXA takes a minority stake in Blue Like an Orange sustainable investment firm.

Low-carbon transition. Emissions accounting engine Normative raises €10 million from climate tech funds, including Lowercarbon Capital… Lilac Solutions raises $150 million to ramp up low-carbon lithium production… German climate tech startup Made of Air raises €5 million to produce zero carbon thermoplastics.

Workforce development. Two Sigma Impact acquires Eclipse Advantage, which employs about 5,000 workers in outsourced warehouses and distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada.

The Week’s Talent

Ex-Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber and Blue Hill co-founder David Barber join Astanor Ventures as partners… Andrew Zolli, ex- of PopTech, joins Planet as chief impact officer… Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, join sustainable investing platform Ethic as impact partners… Amisha Parekh, ex-of Bloomberg, joins Blackstone as global head of ESG for private equity. 

The Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative’s Maggie Stohler is promoted to associate director… Maygen Moore, ex- of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, joins the Low Income Investment Fund as director of national lending initiatives. Emma Chávez, ex- of Boston Private Bank, will be LIIF’s Western region market director… Ken Stewart, ex- of Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital, joins as deputy director for the Mid Atlantic region.

The Week’s Jobs

Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth is hiring a director of impact data science in New York… Global Partnerships is looking for a senior credit officer in Seattle and an investment analyst for its social venture fund in Nairobi… Convergence seeks an associate director of blended finance knowledge in Toronto or Washington, D.C… Prime Coalition is recruiting interns in Cambridge… E Pluribus Unum is looking for a director of philanthropy and strategic partnerships in New Orleans… The Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative is looking for a director of membership and partnerships.

TPG’s Y Analytics team is hiring for several positions… Closed Loop Partners is also looking to fill multiple positions… Morgan Stanley is recruiting a global sustainable finance products and solutions director in New York… Gary Community Ventures is hiring a portfolio manager for impact investing in Denver… DBL Partners is looking for a director of impact in the San Francisco Bay Area… The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is hiring an impact investment manager in Atlanta… In Oakland, Kapor Capital is recruiting a principal and PolicyLink has several job openings

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– Oct 15, 2021