Beats | March 20, 2018

European financial supertankers, Case Foundation impact, blockchain for social impact

The team at


Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

#Featured: 2030 Finance

European supertankers of finance chart a course to a different future.Among the supertankers of global finance that have started to shift toward sustainable investing are California public pension funds, Australian and New Zealand “superannuation,” or retiree, funds, insurance and reinsurance funds and sovereign wealth funds, particularly Norway’s, which with nearly $1 trillion is so massive it qualifies as a category unto itself. At the head of the class are Dutch pension fund managers such as PGGM, APG and MN, making this week’s 4th Impact Summit Europe in The Hague a good place to take stock of the state of “SDG investing,” in alignment with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Just recently, the Norwegian pension fund MP Pensjon, along with the European Union, committed $50 million to Climate Investor One to help finance renewable energy projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Kempen Capital Management launched a Global Impact Pool to help investors targeting five of the goals, including health (SDG №3), water (SDG №6) and energy (SDG №7). Alecta, a Swedish pension fund, committed $100 million to an emerging markets loan fund managed by FMO, the Dutch development bank that targets SDG №8 (decent work). The organizer of Impact Summit Europe, Sophie Robé of Phenix Capital, said she will challenge the 300 investors and managers in the room: “If everyone here put just 5% of their discretionary assets to work with the SDGs we will already be able to catalyze more than €500 billion (US$617 billion). Can we do this?”

Read, “European supertankers of finance chart a course to a different future,” by David Bank on ImpactAlpha.

European supertankers of finance chart a course to a different future

#Dealflow: Follow the Money

Water filtration startup Cerahelix raises $2 million. The Orono, Maine-based startup makes ceramic water filters that use the “size and shape” of DNA as a template to remove ultrafine water impurities. (More on how it works here.) The company wants to see its technology adopted for industrial wastewater treatment. “Under ‘business as usual’ the world’s water needs will exceed supply by 40 percent by 2030,” Cerahelix’s Susan MacKay told Maine Startups Insider. Cerahelix’s $2 million funding round was led by Shanghai-based PureTerra Ventures with backing from Maine Venture Fund and Propel(x).

MDIF closes $6 million loan fund to back independent media. Media Development Investment Fund’s Media Finance I will issue loans to news organizations in emerging and frontier markets that need working capital, equipment financing and short-term cash. The fund was announced in late 2016. Its investors include the Open Society Foundations, Dutch family office Dreilinden, and impact investor and Guerrilla Foundation founder Antonis Schwarz. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency is offering 55% first-loss protection for the fund. MDIF has invested $166 million in 114 media organizations since launching in 1995. It focuses on both startup and established companies in countries where independent media is restricted or under threat. Three-quarters of its clients have exposed a corruption scandal in the countries where they operate. MDIF plans to launch a second loan fund later in 2018.

IFC and Amundi raise $1.4 billion to buy emerging markets green bonds.The fund will invest in green bonds issued by emerging market financial institutions. Mexico and India are among the top 10 green bond issuers, but activity in other emerging markets is low. France, the US and China account for most of the $155.5 billion total green bond issues through December 2017. The fund, now called Amundi Planet–Emerging Green One fund, launched last year and has raised $1.4 billion, including almost $425 million from the IFC, European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Financial News reports that 16 institutional investors have committed to the fund, including pension funds and insurance companies. “Overall, the mix is about 80% private money, 20% public,” Amundi’s Jean-Jacques Barbéris says.

Agents of Impact. Jean Case opened up about how difficult it can be to find high-impact investments. “I haven’t found across-the-board, great impact opportunities,” she told The New York Times. Case is trying to move the field forward through the Case Foundation’s work on impact investing and inclusive entrepreneurship. With the recent departures of Sheila Herrling and Rehana Nathoo, Sam Heitner, senior vice president of communications and marketing, is the foundation’s point person on impact investing. Sarah Koch, vice president of social innovation, leads the work on inclusive entrepreneurship. Herrling is a fellow at Georgetown’s Beeck Center for Social Innovation. (Disclosure: the Case Foundation partnered with ImpactSpace, ImpactAlpha’s open impact database, to build the Impact Investing Network Map.)

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

#Impact Voices

How I learned to stop worrying and love the blockchain. There’s a lot of talk in the investment business about the generational wealth transfer underway from baby boomers to millennials. When the transfer of financial capital combines with a transfer of intellectual capital from the other direction, it becomes even more interesting. In a guest post on ImpactAlpha, Thomas Bird, an impact investor and former Silicon Valley CEO, recounts how his 24- and 27-year-old sons guided his exploration of blockchain-for-social-impact. “The skeptic in me has been persuaded that consensus, decentralization and incentives can help make those in the ecosystem stronger and smarter, leading to competitive advantage. The hopeful side has been persuaded that all this is useful for collaboration, and can help when playing defense against obstacles faced by the ‘better angels of our nature,’” Bird writes. “Given that blockchain maps well to the millennial outlook, it might help to find a NextGen river guide to navigate the complexity.”

Read Thomas Bird’s post, “A Dad’s Story: How I learned to stop worrying and love the blockchain” on ImpactAlpha.

A Dad’s Story: How I learned to stop worrying and love the blockchain

Thank you for reading. Onward! Please send news and comments to [email protected]