The Week in Impact Investing: Swagger

The team at

ImpactAlpha

TGIF, Agents of Impact! 

🗣 Fake it ‘til you make it. When ImpactAlpha launched The Brief five years ago, skeptics scoffed there weren’t enough impact deals for a daily newsletter. Impact investing assets under management that year hovered around $100 billion. Thousands of daily Dealflow items later, the challenge is doing justice to the flood – and variety – of impact-oriented transactions. At the GIIN Investor Forum in The Hague this week, Amit Bouri announced that impact investing assets had surpassed $1.1 trillion, mostly in private markets. With so many investors clamoring for impact, the Global Impact Investing Network has set its sights on the more than $100 trillion in listed public equities. Again, skeptics scoff, citing the obstacles to driving real impact in large, liquid markets. Case in point: the deep distrust of public markets of Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, which contributing editor Imogen Rose-Smith picked apart in her latest Institutional Impact column. 

The moxie on display in The Hague can be seen all around the impact space. Common Future’s Rodney Foxworth, now with some assets to invest, is looking to shift power in impact investing, including by taking a stake in SOCAP, the original social capital markets event that is reconvening next week in San Francisco. “We’re looking at the opportunities for really interrogating how the impact investing field operates,” Foxworth told ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese. Acumen, one of the earliest impact funds, is out and proud about its negative 9% returns because of the outsized impact it has had on nearly 150 million people living below the international poverty line, writes Dennis Price (listen to Acumen’s Daniel Waldron on this week’s Impact Briefing podcast).

Even Amazon has embraced the terminology of impact with its $150 million Catalytic Capital fund to support more than 200 early-stage startups led by Black, Latino, Indigenous, women and/or LGBTQ+ founders, reports Roodgally Senatus. And hip-hop producer Corey Dennard – aka Mr. Hanky – Michael Hawthorne and Taj Eldridge came out swinging this week with Klean Energy Kulture, their bid to put some swagger into the climate movement. Their tagline: “Clean energy never felt this dope.” Stand proud. Impact has never felt this dope, either. – David Bank and Dennis Price

🎧 Impact Briefing. Host Brian Walsh talks with Acumen’s Daniel Waldron about the nonprofit impact investor’s two decades of deploying “patient capital” in companies serving some of the world’s poorest customers. Plus, the headlines.

The Week’s Chart

Age of the heat pump. Surging energy costs driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are driving explosive demand for energy-efficient heat pumps in Europe. In August, about 150,000 Germans filed for government subsidies for heat pumps, an electric alternative to gas boilers. That matched the total for all of last year’s demand, reports Politico Europe. Sales doubled in the Netherlands, Poland, Italy and Austria in the first half of the year. The age of the heat pump has arrived, said Jan Rosenow of the Regulatory Assistance Project. “We’re just at the beginning of a curve that will just go up in the coming years, and it will go up fast.”

The Week’s Dealflow

Deal spotlight: Impact M&A. The year has seen an uptick in impact mergers and acquisitions, including Mirova’s purchase of SunFunder to expand clean energy in emerging markets, and M&G’s acquisition of responsAbility to meet demand for climate finance in developing countries. This week, New York-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus took control of Indian micro-enterprise lender Vistaar Finance. And MyPower, an affiliate of Mitsui & Co., acquired Cambridge, Mass.-based clean energy provider Solstice to expand community solar access for U.S. households. Common Future, which this week took a stake in SOCAP, last month acquired Community Credit Lab to advance community wealth-building. Share this post.

Agrifood investing. Estonia’s FlyFeed snagged €3 million in seed funding to build an industrial-sized insect farm next year to produce affordable proteins, oils and fertilizers… New York-based Flow Equity scored $14 million to build poultry businesses in Africa… India’s BioPrime Agrisolutions scored $1.1 million to develop low-cost biotech-based products to make crops climate resilient… Propagate scored $10 million to help farms transition to agroforestry. 

Climate and clean tech. BreezoMeter, an Israeli climate tech startup that uses sensors to monitor air quality, was acquired by Google for over $200 million…  Energy Capital Ventures closed its inaugural fund at $61 million to invest in tech companies driving the decarbonization, sustainability and digitization of the natural gas industry… Hy24 Partners hauled in €2 billion for clean hydrogen infrastructure… Raise Green snagged $1.2 million to expand access to climate deals for retail investors. 

Financial inclusion. Tienda Pago raised an undisclosed amount in Series B funding to provide low-cost working capital loans for micro and small enterprises in Latin America, particularly those led by women.

Impact tech. Gurgaon-based edtech venture Adda247 raised $35 million to help students from second and third-tier cities in India prepare for government jobs… Nigerian financial data startup Stears raised $3.3 million in seed financing.

Low-carbon transition. Sustainable online shopping platform EcoCart snagged $14.5 million in a Series A round led by Fifth Wall Climate to help customers make climate-friendlier purchases. 

Returns on inclusion. Amazon Catalytic Capital to invest $150 million in underserved founders… Philadelphia Accelerator Fund provided a $675,000 loan to TPP Capital for an 88-unit affordable workforce housing complex in Philadelphia.

ESG. Net Purpose raised £10 million for fact-based social and environmental performance data.

The Week’s Talent

Feona Castro, former managing director at 17 Asset Management, joins Deutsche Bank’s community development finance group as vice president of its New Initiatives Fund… Caleb Ballou, ex- of JPMorgan Chase & Co., has founded Trimtab Impact, an impact fund of funds, with support from MacArthur Foundation, The ImPact and Blue Haven Initiative… GenderSmart’s Suzanne Biegel, Visa Foundation’s Najada Kumbuli, EQT Group’s Jen Braswell, Northern Arc Investments’ Kshama Fernandes and others will join the 2X Collaborative’s inaugural board of directors.

The Week’s Jobs

Spring Point Partners is recruiting an associate director of impact investments remotely in Philadelphia… FoodCorps is recruiting a remote regional impact program director for the U.S. Northeast… Skoll Foundation seeks a managing director for its convening programs remotely or in Palo Alto, Calif… Morgan Stanley is hiring a sustainability reporting project manager… One Project seeks a remote postcapitalist economic system architect… Renewable Energy Wildlife Institute seeks a remote project manager.

Public Health Institute is recruiting a remote program associate in Oakland… Silicon Valley Community Foundation is hiring a philanthropy advisor and a director of donor engagement operations in Mountain View, Calif… Azolla Ventures is hiring a partner, a principal and an investment analystThe Nature Conservancy seeks a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator for the Asia Pacific region… The Pan American Development Foundation is looking for a program officer of migration in Costa Rica.

In New York: UN Women seeks a humanitarian coordination specialist in New York… BlocPower seeks a remote data engineer in New York… Acre is recruiting a director of corporate social responsibility… World Education Services is looking for a remote impact investing manager… Bitgreen seeks a project finance specialist.

In Washington, D.C.: Amalgamated Foundation is hiring a remote philanthropic services associate… The Aspen Institute is looking for an operations manager… Urban Institute is looking for a policy program associate for race and equity research… Palladium is hiring a gender-smart investing specialist… The Pan American Development Foundation is recruiting a program associate.

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– Oct. 14, 2022