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Women’s leadership for all, soft commodity risks and soft skills, Canadian aid innovation

Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

#Featured: Women Rising

Women’s leadership delivers a prize for all: long-term sustainable growth.If you’re looking to tap the next big global growth markets, you’d better be a woman, or at least be sitting next to one. Last year, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission outlined the $12 trillion “economic prize” in delivering on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, boost social well-being and fight climate change. Now the group is raising the stakes by highlighting the role of women’s leadership in delivering — and capturing the gains from — the global goals.

To win in the global growth markets of the next 15 years, business leaders need to think long-term, innovate around complex social issues and collaborate across markets and sectors, according to “Better Leadership, Better World,” the commission’s new report. Success in the global arena also will take new levels of corporate openness, action to mitigate climate and environmental risks and a culture of inclusiveness….That is, the core competencies of women in business identified by the commission.

In time for International Women’s Day, expect a raft of reports on how women’s leadership is key not only to SDG №5 but to the entire 2030 agenda. Take financial services. “Powering Potential,” a new report from BNY Mellon and the UN Foundation tallies hundreds of billions in potential new annual revenue from bringing women’s access to financial services to parity with that of men. Keep your gender lens focused on ImpactAlpha all week for full coverage.

Read, “Women’s leadership delivers a prize for all: long-term sustainable growth” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Tune in: On International Women’s Day, Thursday, March 8, Veris Wealth Partners is hosting a webinar on the state of gender-lens investing. Register here.

Women’s leadership delivers a prize for all: long-term sustainable growth

#Dealflow: Follow the Money

The Graide Network secures $1 million to teach kids “soft skills.” The Chicago-based company recruits teaching assistants to grade and offer feedback on K-12 writing assignments. The Graide Network’s funding round was led by Network Ventures. Just over a quarter of US high school seniorscan write proficiently (other US education stats paint a bleak picture of education and student preparedness.) Other edtech startups are tackling thesoft skills gap in the US: Colorado startup PAIRIN raised funding from Zoma Capital in December to improve critical thinking and socio-emotional skills for jobseekers.

Predible Health raises seed funds to diagnose cancer in India. Cancer claims around 700,000 lives in India each year. The figure is expected to climbto 1.2 million by 2035 owing to changing lifestyles and lack of early diagnostic and treatment resources, particularly in rural areas. Unitus Seed Fund hasinvested an undisclosed amount in diagnostics startup Predible. Predible uses artificial intelligence to help India’s limited supply of radiologists read medical screenings faster and more accurately. The company has launched two products so far: one for early lung cancer detection and the other to support planning of liver transplants and resections. It has processed two million screenings so far and will use the funding to support its goal of processing 500 million by 2020.

Global Canopy launches tool for corporate supply chain risk. You’ve heard of the Task Force for Climate-Related Disclosures, the climate-risk accounting bible developed by a commission led by Michael Bloomberg and the Bank of England’s Mark Carney (if not, see this and this and this). Now comes the Soft Commodity Risk Platform, or SCRIPT, from Global Canopy, WWF and Ceres. Soft commodities typically refer to agricultural or timber products and the tool helps financial institutions screen their investment portfolio for environmental flags, like companies that source unsustainable palm oil products or that have supply chains that contribute to deforestation. SCRIPT has two features: a policy benchmarking tool for banks to measure the environmental policies against their peers, and a portfolio risk tool that screens for high-risk portfolio companies.

See all of ImpactAlpha’s recent #dealflow. Send deal tips and news to

#Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Canada doubles down on innovative finance for global development. Canada’s new budget, announced this week, is good news for those living in developing countries, writes Christopher Clubb, managing director of Convergence, the blended-capital matchmaking network based in Toronto. The budget commits CAD 1.5 billion (US$1.15 billion) over five years to support innovation in Canada’s international assistance, more than all previous such commitments put together. With Canada leading the G7 countries this year, the allocation could signal other countries about how to use public funding to catalyze private capital. “This budget presents a huge opportunity for Canada to disrupt development finance as we know it,” Clubb writes, “by being a key global force in mobilizing, redirecting, and unlocking trillions of dollars of private resources towards the SDGs and global development.” Read, “Canada doubles down on innovative finance for global development,” by Christopher Clubb on ImpactAlpha.

Canada doubles down on innovative finance for global development

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