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#Featured: ImpactAlpha Original
Ramping up global health investments to fight diseases of low-income countries. After a rocky start, the $108 million Global Health Investment Fund has made its 10th investment, leading a $10 million financing for Vienna-based Themis Bioscience. Themis has made good progress on a vaccine for the chikungunya virus — a mosquito-borne disease found in 60 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Death from the disease is rare, but it causes debilitating pain and there is no cure.
The fund was established by JPMorgan Chase and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bridge a very specific gap: capital to bring to market promising late-stage drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools for diseases that disproportionately burden low-income populations. The fund faced early fundraising challenges and several years ago replaced its original manager with a dedicated team. Since then, the team has invested in a device to address cataract-induced blindness, a rapid diagnostic test for HIV, malaria, Ebola and other diseases. For a new drug to treat hookworm, GHIF helped develop a novel $25 million financing plan that leveraged a voucher awarded by the FDA that could be sold to pharmaceutical companies seeking faster regulatory review. “We want to shine a bright light on the market opportunity for products that might not be given their fair share of attention,” Glenn Rockman, a partner at GHIF, told ImpactAlpha in an earlier interview.
Read “Ramping up global health investments to fight diseases of low-income countries,” on ImpactAlpha.
#Roundups: 2017 in Review
Catch up with ImpactAlpha’s 2017 roundups:
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Church pension fund backs off-grid solar in Africa and south Asia. The $75 million Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund aims to impact one million people in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia and reduce carbon dioxide by four million tons. The Church Pension Fund, which serves the Episcopal Church, invested $17 million in its second in off-grid energy investment. The $13 billion fund has about $1 billion invested or committed to impact funds, including investments in the Cheyne Social Property Impact Fund, the Avanath Affordable Housing Fund, and the Developing World Markets’ Off-Grid, Renewable and Climate Action Impact Note.
AgDevCo re-ups with Zambian farming venture. Katito Farming Enterprises aims to increase local agricultural production and processing in northern Zambia and to connect smallholder farmers to regional export markets. AgDevCo, a London-based impact investor, invested almost $2 million in the farm, after a $5 million investment last year. Funds will be used to help Katito work with new crop varieties and to build a new plant. The region has 33,000 small farms that could benefit from Katito’s work. AgDevCo has invested $110 million in 56 agribusinesses in Africa.
ReciproCare and La Cocina share $100,000 for D.C. area workforce development. The two enterprises were selected as winners by the Points of Light civic accelerator. Focused on the future of work, the program has invested $800,000 in 123 startups over the past five years. Half the participating teams are led by women and 70% by people of color. Eleven startups took part in the latest 10-week program and selected the winners. ReciproCare is a D.C.-based for-profit that connects caregivers to senior care organizations. La Cocina, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit, provides culinary-career training to unemployed immigrants.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
Debt financing signals maturing Indian startup market. Equity gets the glory, but sometimes it’s debt that gets the job done. Debt can finance day-to-day expenditures and allows companies to grow without ownership dilution or selling high-cost equity (see, “Banking on the Poor: Using the Off-Grid Solar Revolution to Unlock Low-Income Credit in Africa”). In India, startups received $1.2 billion in debt financing in 45 deals last year. That was nearly 10% of total startup funding, reports YourStory. In 2017, venture-capital firm Unicorn India Ventures launched a debt fund, while venture debt funds Trifecta Capital, InnoVen, and IntelleGrow all increased investments. Blue Orchard and Triodos Investment Management, two impact funds, also made debt investments in India last year (see, “State Bank of India backs small-business lender Lendingkart”). Such financing has only recently become available to young Indian companies. “Sometimes, supply creates demand. In the case of debt funding, there was latent demand,” Trifecta Capital’s Rahul Khanna told YourStory. Trifecta expects to deploy $40 million in debt this year. In the US and UK, venture debt lagged venture capital by about 10 to 15 years. India’s startups may not need to wait as long.
New York’s clean-energy future. “Mother Nature has tested us, it seems, time and time and time again.” That was New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo in his eighth State of the State address. Cuomo outlined his vision for a greener future in the 2018 Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda. “The future of the economy and the future of our children is all in clean technology and we should put our money where our mouth is,” Cuomo said. The call for action includes:
- Generating 50% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2030;
- A $200 million investment in new energy storage capacity by 2025 to support clean energy adoption;
- Proposals for 800 megawatts of new offshore wind projects in the next two years;
- No new fossil-fuel investments from the state’s $200 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund;
- Expanding community solar to 10,000 low-income New Yorkers.
In his address, Cuomo also called for more work on sexual harassment, gender inequality, criminal justice, minority- and women-owned businesses, youth employment; and homelessness and addiction in New York. Oh, and meatballs.
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