TGIF, Agents of Impact!
ImpactAlpha is taking our summer Brief break next week. We’ll be back on Tuesday, July 5.
The Week in Impact Investing: Summer
Turn, turn, turn. One of the best things about Earth’s tilt is the seasons. This week’s summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere) is a reminder that things go ‘round even as they change. Like many impact enterprises, ImpactAlpha traces some of its roots to SOCAP, the wild and woolly annual gathering in San Francisco. So it was good to see the show will go on under a new partnership with Sorenson Impact Center. We’ve written dozens of stories about SunFunder, the emerging-markets solar financier that has deployed more than $165 million; SunFunder will now go forward as part of Mirova, the $30 billion asset manager. We first met Sindhu Janakiram as part of NYU’s winning team in the 2020 Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge. Now Sindhu is building Refugee Integration Insights to track and rank corporate activities and support for refugees.
Other reunions this week: R. Todd Johnson, who outlined new corporate forms to align legal structures with impact as part of our “Frontiers in Social Innovation” series with Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation, is a longtime member of ImpactAlpha’s board. Women of the World Endowment’s Patience Marime-Ball, who was featured last year on The Reconstruction podcast, returned to talk with Monique Aiken about her new book, “The XX Edge.” The Grove Foundation’s Rebekah Saul Butler laid out the case for catalytic carveouts as part of our “Seeding Impact” series with the Catalytic Capital Consortium; Butler was a guest on Agents of Impact Call No. 20 two years ago. And we’ve been tracking for years with the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing, so we were happy to have Cliff Prior’s account of the GSG’s recent convening around impact transparency.
We also were heartened this week by the young ocean entrepreneurs and activists who are shaking off climate defeatism, and by Daniela Fernandez of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance, who is “inspiring this next generation to not just be angry about the climate crisis, but to instead become change agents.” To everything there is a season, as the verse (and the classic song) goes. And a time to every purpose, under heaven. – David Bank
The Week’s Agent of Impact
New Climate Leaders: Winning with a green agenda. If the rise of a Black former maid to vice president was once unthinkable in Colombia, so too was the idea that the oil- and coal- dependent nation would call a halt to new oil drilling and mining licenses and speed the transition to green energy. That is the platform that swept Gustavo Petro, a former guerilla and mayor of Bogotá, and his environmentalist-lawyer running mate Francia Marquez, to victory this week in Colombia’s presidential elections. The pair campaigned on a promise to lift up marginalized communities and wean the economy off fossil fuels (lost revenues would be offset in part by selling carbon credits). “This is the government of the people with calloused hands, the government of people who have to work,” said Marquez, who won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018 for her opposition to gold mining. “We’re going to fight for the rights of our Mother Earth.”
Colombia’s green turn may reverberate across Latin America and beyond. Australians last month gave the boot to climate laggard Scott Morrison, voting in as prime minister the Labor Party’s Anthony Albanese (and a slew of independent, eco-focused women). Overnight, the third-largest exporter of fossil fuels became a climate champion. Albanese plans to boost the country’s renewable energy mix from 30% to 82% by 2030 and to build out the electric-vehicle charging infrastructure. The new prime minister has signaled he will join U.S. President Joe Biden’s methane reduction pledge, eschewed by Morrison, and bid to host the COP29 climate summit in 2024. Australia and Colombia are not only major fossil fuel producers and exporters, they are among the most biodiverse nations in the world, along with Brazil. That petro-state is holding its own elections in October, pitting authoritarian leader – and climate denier – Jair Bolsonaro against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who currently has a comfortable lead. Colombia’s Petro has invited da Silva to be part of a regional anti-oil bloc. Lula has pledged to protect the Amazon, but like many on Latin America’s left has not made climate action a major part of his platform. Perhaps the victory of Petro and Marquez in Colombia will make him turn green with envy. – Amy Cortese
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The Week’s Dealflow
Deal spotlight: Clean energy in emerging markets. The Covid pandemic has set back progress in providing access to clean energy in emerging markets. In Africa, 25 million more people are living without electricity than before the pandemic, according to the International Energy Agency’s Africa Energy Outlook 2022. Solar energy is a key pillar for building the continent’s new energy economy, the agency says, and impact investors are working to accelerate the clean energy transition. CrossBoundary Energy Access raised$25 million from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, Bank of America and other investors to finance solar-powered mini-grids in rural Africa. Mirova, the $30 billion impact unit of French asset management firm Natixis, acquiredNairobi-based SunFunder to expand clean energy and climate investing in emerging markets. The new entity plans a $500 million debt fund to finance about 70 solar projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
- Mega fund. Brookfield closed out institutional fundraising for its inaugural Global Transition Fund with $15 billion in what it says is the largest-ever private fund to support the transition to net zero. The fund already has invested $2.5 billion in developers of solar power, batteries and carbon capture and storage.
- Clean energy overflow. Electric Hydrogen raked in $198 million in Series B funding from investors including Amazon, RioTinto and Honeywell to advance the use of green hydrogen in heavy industry… Generate Capital invested $500 million in Pine Gate Renewables, a utility-scale solar and energy storage developer, to build new projects in local communities in the U.S.
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New funds. Chancen International raised a $21 million Future of Work Fund for income share agreement financing in Rwanda… Dunas Capital raised nearly €10 million ($10.6 million) to invest in sustainable agriculture and clean energy in the disadvantaged rural regions of Spain… LGT Capital Partners raised$550 million for Crown Impact, its first impact private equity fund, to invest in companies working to advance climate action, inclusive growth and healthcare.
Community finance. Bank of America committed $40 million in low-cost capital to community development financial institutions to finance the development of health care centers in U.S. underserved communities… NY Green Bank allocated $250 million from its balance sheet to provide low-cost capital for clean energy projects in underserved New York communities.
Sustainability. Ares Management Corp. acquired SLR Consulting, a global ESG and sustainability consultant company, from Charterhouse Capital Partners… France’s EcoVadis secured $500 million from General Atlantic’s BeyondNetZero fund and Europe’s Astorg… Bayan Infrastructure secured $8.2 million in a Series A round to digitize sustainable infrastructure projects.
Agridfood investing. India’s Waycool scored $25 million in a round led by 57 Stars’ Direct Impact Fund to help smallholder farmers boost incomes while improving food chain efficiency… Kellogg will spin off its plant-based foods from its cereal and snack units.
Upskilling. Transfer VR secured $35 million in Series B funding to increase the use of virtual reality for on-the-job training in industries most impacted by skills gaps and unemployment.
Clean water. Oikocredit, via a partnership with nonprofit Aqua for All, committed up to €16.5 million ($17.3 million) to improve access to water and sanitation for low-income communities in Cambodia and East and West Africa.
Return on inclusion. Ebiara secured $10 million to help Black and Brown developers scale in Detroit… Langdon Park paid $63.2 million for affordable apartments for Black and Latino D.C. residents… Ghanain fintech venture Fido snagged $30 million to expand its financial services to small businesses in Uganda.
Impact management. Sorenson took over SOCAP to restructure its finances.
The Week’s Jobs
The Global Impact Investing Networkseeks an associate director of global events in New York… Emerson Collective is recruiting an associate director of venture investing in San Francisco… BlueOrchard Finance is looking for an associate impact manager for its blended finance and impact management team in Zurich… Veris Wealth Partnersseeks a wealth manager for impact investing in New York… Freedom Equityseeks a director of lending in Columbus, Ohio.
Purpose Venture Groupis hiring a managing director in New York… Palladiumis looking for an investment lead to work on its USAID-backed $250 million CATALYZE program in Washington, D.C… The Global Impact Investing Networkseeks an associate director to work with institutional clients in New York… The California Endowment is looking for an impact investing portfolio manager in Fresno, Calif.
Global Climate Reward is looking for a (remote) volunteer writer/journalist (see, “Positive externalities: Carrots as well as sticks for the carbon era”)… Walton Enterprisesseeks a senior investment analyst in Washington, D.C… RPCK Rastegar Panchalseeks a senior associate attorney for fund formation in New York… Global Partnerships is recruiting a credit operations officer in Seattle or Bogotá, Colombia… Developing World Markets’ is looking for a debt portfolio manager and an investor relations associate in New York… ECMC Group is hiring a senior director of impact investing in Minneapolis.
And our podcast producer, Isaac Silk, is celebrating his 30th birthday today. Happy birthday, Isaac!