The Brief | August 30, 2018

Winner take all? Off-grid energy in Africa, health startups in India

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: The Impact Alpha

Rich people calling themselves changemakers? Hold them to it. In his new book, “Winner Take All,” former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes impact investors to task along with billionaires, philanthropists, corporate CEOs and “anyone who is endeavoring to make the world a better place while protecting their opportunity to make a killing.” The book, subtitled “The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” has struck a chord among those skeptical of do-gooders who talk social equity from their perch at the top of the 1%.

It’s easy to skewer plutocrats, ImpactAlpha’s David Bank writes In his weekly column. “The tougher question is how to leverage the social-good impulse and rhetoric into real, systemic change.” Giridharadas seems to underestimate Agents of Impact working inside and outside of elite institutions to drive the new calculus of risks and opportunities that already is changing finance. The act of driving capital toward explicit, accountable social and environmental value-creation starts companies and investors down an inexorable logic trail. Valuing and accounting for social and environmental impact sets up the next wave of change and creates constituencies for it. “Rather than worrying about people claiming to change the world,” Bank writes, “let’s hold them to their word.”

Keep reading, “Rich people calling themselves changemakers? Hold them to it,” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha. Catch up on all of David’s columns here.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Off-Grid Energy Access Fund raises $58 million to expand local debt financing. The Off-Grid Energy Access Fund, led by the African Development Bank, aims to help off-grid energy companies in Africa access debt and lines of credit in local currency. The fund helps firms tackle currency issues that have hampered off-grid energy companies’ ability to access more diverse pools of capital. Read on.

Omidyar Network backs myUpchar’s $5 million raise for local-language health content. The Delhi-based startup wants to democratize access to health information by providing content in 13 Indian languages. The company was backed by Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network and Shunwei Capital. Indian startups have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to bridge gaps in India’s over-stretched health system. Here’s more.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

The Impact Capital Africa Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, is set for Oct. 2-3. Register nowKiva is hiring investment managers in Latin America & the Caribbean and South & Southeast Asiagener8tor and American Family Insurance are running a social impact accelerator in Madison, Wisc.

— August 30, 2018.