The Brief | October 8, 2021

The Week in impact investing: Restoration

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact! We’re taking a Brief break on Monday for the U.S. holiday. We’ll be back in your inbox – and on LinkedIn Live for Call No. 32 – on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

👋🏾 Last chance to RSVP to The Call: Black tech, green solutions. “Climate change and climate justice are directly correlated,” says Sherrell Dorsey, who founded The Plug to cover how Black innovation is shaping the world. Black and Brown climate tech entrepreneurs, often from communities disproportionately impacted by climate change, are “so critical because they understand the urgency of building in a way that maybe other founders do not understand,” says Dorsey, who will co-host next week’s “Black tech, green solutions” call with ImpactAlpha‘s David Bank

  • Join guests Taj Eldridge of Include Ventures, SaLisa Berrien of COI Energy, Donnel Baird of BlocPower and Kameale Terry of ChargerHelp for a discussion on equity and inclusion in the green economy, Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP today.

🎧 Impact Briefing. On this week’s podcast, The Plug’s Sherrell Dorsey joins host Monique Aiken to talk Black tech ecosystems, the origins of The Plug, and next week’s “Black tech, green solutions” call. Plus, the headlines.

The Week’s Agents of Impact

Climate scientists. Climate scientists are having a moment, decades overdue. Private investment funds are seeking out climate soothsayers to inform decision-making. Prescient climate wonks mixed it up with Jimmy Kimmel as part of September’s late-night spotlight on the climate crisis. This week, three scientists received the Nobel Prize for work on climate modeling that laid the scientific foundation for this year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Syukuro Manabe of Princeton University, Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, and Giorgio Parisi of the Sapienza University of Rome shared the physics prize for their contributions to understanding the complex dynamics driving climate change. The IPCC report landed with a bang in August and showed that human-driven climate change is widespread and intensifying. The report itself was produced by hundreds of volunteer scientists who toiled for four years to synthesize the latest research. 

The IPCC itself shared the Nobel Peace prize, with former vice president Al Gore, in 2007. (Climate activist Greta Thunberg is again in the running for this year’s peace prize, to be revealed on Friday). But this is the first time the committee has recognized scientific contributions in the fight against climate change. Dr. Manabe’s 1967 model linked CO2 with planetary warming, predicting that the Earth would warm by 2 degrees Celsius for every doubling of atmospheric carbon (CO2 levels have already increased 50% from pre-industrial times). Hasselmann pinpointed connections between short-term weather events and deeper climatic changes. Parisi helped make sense of chaotic systems, such as weather. The award is a reminder that scientists have been sounding the alarm on global warming threats for more than five decades. “It is clear that for the future generation, we have to act now in a very fast way,” Parisi said in a message for world leaders, who are set to convene later this month for COP26, the pivotal “conference of parties” follow-up to the 2015 Paris Agreement. Let’s hope this time they’re listening. – Amy Cortese

The Week’s Big 9

1. The Reconstruction: Restorative economics (podcast). Nwamaka Agbo of Kataly Foundation is practicing her own vision of “restorative economics” by investing in organizations that shift ownership and control of community assets to the people who use them. On The Reconstruction podcast, Agbo and host Monique Aiken discuss Kataly’s strategy to spend down its endowment and redistribute wealth back to communities. Read and listen in

2. Impact’s global network goes local. The national advisory boards, or NABs, that make up the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing are working to unlock capital from local pension plans and other domestic institutional investors for sustainable economic development. “The only pool of local, patient, long-term capital that could be deployed to small businesses is from pension funds,” Amma Lartey of Impact Investing Ghana, the country’s NAB, told ImpactAlpha ahead of this week’s GSG Global Impact Summit. Catch up

3. Place-based fixed income. Local institutions in New Mexico committed $11 million to a bond strategy managed by Toronto-based RBC Global Asset Management, which will deploy the proceeds to small business growth, affordable rental housing and healthcare in the state. The strategy, which RBC has stamped out in a half-dozen other states, provides an on-ramp for even change-averse investment offices to align more of their organizations’ capital with their social missions. Dig in.

4. The EV race is on. General Motors is aiming to double its revenues by 2030 as it rolls out dozens of electric cars, trucks and delivery vans. Ford is investing $7 billion to build three U.S. plants for electric batteries and pickup trucks. The internal combustion engine is “reaching the end of its era,” reads a white paper from hedge fund Engine No. 1, which has taken a $22 million stake in GM. Check it out

5. Activating retail investors. Just as large asset managers are increasingly engaging in “active stewardship” of the companies in their portfolios, so too can small individual investors. Brooklyn-based Troop, and startups like Tulipshare and Tumelo, both in the U.K., are making tools for retail investors to press major asset managers on issues like climate change, private prisons, recycling and working conditions. Wait, there’s more

  • Say it again. “Disruptions in the shareholder engagement space offer new opportunities to align the interests of all stakeholders, and individual investors are a necessary piece of the puzzle,” says Morningstar’s Jackie Cook, citing Robinhood’s August acquisition of Say Technologies.   

6. Private-market ESG. ​​Private companies and private markets represent the majority of the world’s economic activity, but their environmental, social and governance, or ESG, performance has been opaque at best. A consortium including the Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, S&P Global and Hamilton Lane are backing Novata, a new public benefit corporation aiming to streamline ESG measurement, data collection and benchmarking for private companies and private-markets investors. Go deeper.

  • Separately, Measurabl raised $50 million to help real estate investors measure for ESG and BlackRock acquired Rhodium’s climate risk modeling unit and its Aladdin software.

7. Class is in session (video). Fresh off of an impact measurement and management workshop on last week’s Agents of Impact call, Duke University’s Cathy Clark is offering a sampling of her favorite short videos from the new Coursera course, “Impact Measurement and Management for the SDGs.” First up: The four steps of impact measurement and management. Take a peek.

8. Impact VC: U.S. vs. Europe. Approaches to impact venture capital in the U.S. and Europe have “some subtle and not-so-subtle differences,” Paul Miller of London-based Bethnal Green Ventures writes in a guest post. U.S. impact VCs are using the “impact alpha” thesis to gain an edge on their commercial counterparts – but jettisoning the word “impact.” European impact VCs are backing ventures that augment public services. Keep reading.

  • European impact funds. A Mirova impact private equity fund is looking to raise €300 million ($348.6 million) from institutional and private investors. Golding Capital Partners aims to raise €300 million for a private equity impact fund that will invest in global agrifood tech, fintech and climate tech companies.

9. Charitable policy reforms. Proposed reforms to charitable giving include speeding up distributions from donor-advised funds, or DAFs, via the proposed Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act. The Urban Institute’s Laura Tomasko sees an opening to shift power toward communities that have historically been kept at the margins, and to usher in broader social and economic change. More

The Week’s Dealflow

Spotlight: Impact hot spots. Edtech in India. Food tech in Europe. Climate tech everywhere. Deals are flowing in impact hot spots around the world. The opportunity for education technologies in India is large, for example, as COVID-19 pushed classes online. A little over a year after Bengaluru-based Vedantu raked in $100 million, the company secured an additional $100 million in a round led by Singapore impact fund ABC World Asia. The company is making after-school tutoring widely available and affordable through online lessons.

  • Food tech in Europe. Investors deployed €3 billion to European food tech ventures last year as consumers demand healthier and more sustainable food options. French venture firm Five Seasons ventures, which has already backed more than a dozen impact-focused foodtech startups in Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and the U.K., raised a second, €180 million early-stage fund.

Frontier and growth markets. Development Partners International closes billion-dollar Africa-focused fund… Bank of Central Asia commits $40 million to Impact Credit Solutions’ Indonesia Resilience Fund to finance hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other healthcare providers… Tazah raises $2 million to connect Pakistan’s farmers to small food retailers… Indonesia’s e-commerce startup Ula raises $87 million to expand its tools and services for small retailers… Favo, which helps small businesses and entrepreneurs with marketing, raises $26.5 million from Tiger Global Management, GFC, Elevar Equity and others.

Climate and clean tech. Fluence Energy seeks to ride the energy storage boom in public offering… SunPower buys U.S. residential solar provider Blue Raven Solar for as much as $165 million in cash… Pomona Impact invests $1 million in Hybrico, a Guatemalan provider of cost-efficient, sustainable energy-as-a-service for Latin American telecom companies…Reforestation startup DroneSeed raises $36 million for rapid wildfire recovery… Nuveen invests $169 million in Do Good Foods to turn grocery waste into animal feed. 

Inclusive economy. SoLa Black Impact Fund, SDS Supporting Housing Fund and Community Capital receive funding from Pacific Premier Bank’s $50 million Equitable Impact Initiative… The Families and Workers Fund launches with $51 million to advance quality jobs and invest in more effective public benefits… Hearst’s Level Up Ventures to invest in Black and Latinx tech founders… LOOP secures $21 million to make car insurance more equitable.

Catalytic capital. ARM-Harith launches the blended-finance Urban Climate Fund for West Africa to unlock capital for low-carbon, climate-resilient development in the region… Refugee bond attracts $14 million to support displaced people in Jordan and Lebanon… The National Bank of Kenya and Dutch nonprofit Aqua for All aim to lend $45 million to tech providers, vendors and small businesses improving access to clean water and sanitation.

Climate finance. Actis’ BTE Renewables, Craftskills Limited and The Nature Conservancy provide a $10 million loan to Kenya-based Kipeto Wind Power Project to encourage nature conservation around its wind turbines… Krane Funds Advisors added two ETFs to track the European Union and California voluntary carbon markets. 

Electric vehicles. India’s Ola Electric, which makes electric scooters and other vehicles, scores $200 million from Falcon Edge Capital and Softbank… Rivian, the Amazon-backed electric truck maker, filed for an IPO after raising $2.5 billion in July.

The Week’s Talent

Antony Bugg-Levine, former head of Nonprofit Finance Fund, joins Lafayette Square as co-head of community impact (see “Agent of Impact, Antony Bugg-Levine”)… Lorenzo Bernasconi, ex-of the Rockefeller Foundation, joins Lombard Odier Investment Managers as head of climate and environmental solutions… ABC World Asia appointsTan Shao Ming and Sugandhi Matta as chief investment officer and chief impact officer, respectively… Myra Jones-Taylor, ex- of Zero to Three, is named chief policy impact officer at Urban Institute… Pacific Community Ventures appoints Kapor Center’s Lili Gangas, CAMEO’s Carolina Martinez, and Ecotrust’s Olivia Rebanal to its board… 

Katherine Lorenz of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation was elected vice chair of the Environmental Defense Fund’s board of directors… Ginny Reyes Llamzon, ex- of Global Innovation Fund, joins MCE Social Capital as general counsel… Mary Beth Gallagher, ex- of Investor Advocates for Social Justice, joins Domini as director of engagement… Southern Bancorp’s Darrin Williamsjoins Enterprise Community Partners’ board of trustees… UT Austin professor Michael Holejoins Notley Ventures as a partner… 

Fiona Reynolds, the outgoing CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment, joins the advisory board of Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners… Ed Farrington, ex- of Natixis Investment Managers, joins Impax Asset Management as head of distribution for North America… Sébastien Duquet, ex- of responsAbility, joins SunFunder as chief commercial officer… Tibor Toth, ex- of The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, joins Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures as investment director.

The Week’s Jobs

Village Capital is hiring a head of team and organizational development in Washington, D.C… Tufts University is looking for a professor of the practice of impact investing/environmental social governance… Pacific Community Ventures is hiring a chief impact officer / economist… Citi Impact Fund is hiring a vice president… National Community Investment Coalition seeks a communications director / managing editor, among other roles. 

KKR is looking for an ESG data manager… Social Finance is recruiting a director of impact investing… Goldman Sachs is hiring a natural capital analyst for its Sustainable Investing Group in New York… Maycomb Capital is looking for an analyst for the Community Outcomes Fund in Brooklyn… The Nature Conservancyseeks a natural climate solutions forester for NatureVest… Mission Driven Finance is hiring a marketing and communications coordinator.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– Oct 1, 2021