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#Featured: The New Revivalists
Transforming coal country, one social enterprise at a time. Green-collar construction, agriculture, solar, arts and environmental rehabilitation. This isn’t Berkeley. It’s West Virginia — Brandon Dennison’s West Virginia.
Dennison was born and raised in West Virginia’s coal country. He’s seen what happens to communities that depend on a single sector or industry, and the devastating impact on Appalachian communities as the coal industry declines.
Dennison’s Coalfield Development Corp. has built a family of social enterprises prototyping a diverse West Virginian economy. Coalfield Corp. offers steady work, training and education, mentorship and a pathway to ownership in a company that is building homes, installing solar, and growing and selling food. “Ultimately, we want our crew members to own different business lines within each of these sectors,” Dennison told ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering. “We’ve come up with something that is chipping away at generational poverty.”
Read “Brandon Dennison: Transforming coal country, one social enterprise at a time” by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha.
New Revivalists is a series from ImpactAlpha and Village Capital profiling the people, places and policies reviving entrepreneurship — and the American Dream.
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Magma Partners closes $15 million fund to help Latin American startups go global. The Latin America-focused investment firm plans to invest in 60 tech startups across the region. Magma is not an impact investor, per se, but managing partner Nathan Lustig argues that all startup investing in Latin America is impact investing. With this, its second fund, Magma will focus on fintech and blockchain ventures. “The founders we support will be able to build real, sustainable businesses with teams in Latin America, not only helping stop the brain drain, but also taking the best parts of global entrepreneurial culture and helping make them more common in Latin America,” Lustig tells ImpactAlpha. Magma is also launching an accelerator program in partnership with Chinese co-working space provider Kr Space and Chinese government support. It will focus on helping Latin American startups learn about doing business in China.
Aberdeen Standard partners with Big Issue on employment fund. The UK Equity Impact–Employment Opportunities fund will be the first equity fund for Big Issue’s social investment arm, Big Issue Invest. The partnership with Aberdeen Standard Investments will invest in publicly listed companies that create jobs that pay above minimum wage, are boosting employment in underserved areas and where a majority of staff are in the UK. The fund’s goal is to produce competitive returns while supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goal of “full and productive employment,” Aberdeen’s Lesley Duncan says. The fund is Aberdeen’s second SDG-focused equity vehicle. Big Issue Invest, for its part, has supported more than 350 social enterprises and charities as a lender. It also has a £100 million ($139 million) bond fund with Columbia Threadneedle.
Lightful raises £4 million to help social enterprises market their impact.Lightful is a social media and marketing company for charities and social enterprises. “We remember a time where social media mobilised people to come together and be a force for good,” a Lightful post in The Guardian says. “We want that time back.” The company helps social organizations manage their social media accounts, offers a “story-builder” tool and provides analytics. The tech company launched in 2015 and has registered 1,800 accounts. Lightful’s Series A funding ($5.5 million) was backed by Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason and race car champion Dario Franchitti.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
The emerging US market for inclusive fintech solutions. Many Americans may be financially underserved (nearly 23.2 million don’t have a bank account), but they still spend about $173 billion each year to borrow, spend and save. That’s the financial inclusion market in the US. In a guest post on ImpactAlpha, Andria Thomas, a co-lead of consulting firm Dalberg’s financial inclusion practice, shares three ways (and a bonus) for investors and firms to tap that opportunity while advancing US financial health. Thomas says that with investments in tech and process, and a renewed commitment to the poor, credit unions can become innovation hubs for the underserved. She details how, by adopting services like financial management tool Hello Wallet, firms can turn employee financial health into returns on investment. Dig deeper: “The emerging US market for inclusive fintech” by Andria Thomas, on ImpactAlpha.
View from Seattle: Nine ways to create a bigger tent for impact investing in 2018. Leaders of the northwest’s hopping social impact investing scene have some things to say. This week’s SOCAP365 conference brought together Capria’s Uma Sekar, Renewal Funds’ Joel Solomon, Seattle Foundation’s Michael Brown and Fledge’s Luni Libes, among many others. Mark Horoszowski, founder and CEO of MovingWorlds, a platform that matches experts with social impact organizations, shared nine takeaways with ImpactAlpha. Among them: Diverse investors will create better opportunities. By leading, impact investors can show Wall Street how it’s done. “We need to inclusionize our economy, and we need to do it fast,” said Solomon. Step one? The investors, managers, and leaders of funds need to be as diverse as the groups they’re hoping to invest in. Acting globally? Don’t forget to think locally and read, “Nine ways to create a bigger tent for impact investing in 2018,” by MovingWorlds’ Mark Horoszowski.
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