Week 38

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Climate finance

‘Invest in the good, short the bad to bring about change’

Ed Lees, Co-Head Environmental Strategies BNPP AM, forms half of one of the most successful partnerships in impact investing. He explains how investing in ‘green companies’ and shorting ‘brown companies’ can force change.

Off-grid solar energy

Getting support for off-grid energy to where it’s needed

Millions of financial support have been mobilised for off-grid energy companies in need due to the Covid pandemic. But how do fund managers ensure it’s disbursed fast and effectively to those most in need?

Week 37

Week 36

Fintech

Microfinance banks aim to fill mobile money gap

The mobile money revolution has changed lives in some of the world’s poorest communities. But not everyone is reaping the benefits. Microfinance banks are trying to fill the gap.

Impact measurement

One AI impact company’s pursuit of proof

Sama, a San Francisco-based data-training company, decided a few years ago that it was time to run its impact numbers through an independent randomly controlled trial. The risk paid off.

Week 35

Week 34

Investing in nature

Impact measurement is a ‘work in progress’

The &Green Fund is striving for deforestation-free supply chains of the biggest agricultural commodities. Transforming entire supply chains is admittedly very complex. This begs the question: how?

Learned in lockdown

'The climate emergency is the real pandemic'

This summer Impact Investor talks to investors and entrepreneurs about how the pandemic has shifted priorities. This week: Ayodeji Balogun, CEO of Nigeria-based commodities exchange AFEX.

Week 33

Profile

Can Acre's 'Big Idea' close the African infra finance gap?

Hussein Sefian, the founding partner of Acre Impact Capital, has a ‘big idea’: leveraging export credit finance to mobilise capital that can help solve Africa’s lack of critical infrastructure, from clean water to energy.

Interview

How to combine impact with profit when speeding up the internet

Convergence Partners invests in better and cheaper internet access in Sub-Saharan Africa. “We treat a whole block in a township as if it's a single home in a higher-income suburb", says CEO Brandon Doyle on how to combine impact with financial profit.

Learned in lockdown

Covid made the EBRD less hierarchical and more local

This summer Impact Investor talks to investors and entrepreneurs about how the pandemic shifted priorities. This week: Alexander Plekhanov of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on stepping back from hierarchy.

Week 32

News

IFC market report: Covid boosted impact investment in 2020

A report from the International Finance Corporation shows sharp growth in global impact investment in 2020. The IFC also underlines that the private sector’s impact investments remain a tiny fraction of its overall investment.

Learned in lockdown

‘Covid a missed opportunity for financial sector’

This summer Impact Investor talks to investors and entrepreneurs about how the pandemic has shifted priorities. This week: sustainability consultant Willem Schramade on ‘impact washing’ in times of crisis.

Book review

The Global Handbook of Impact Investing

This weighty academic tome tells you everything you want to know about the theory of impact investing, but less about the practice. It warns impact investors are overlooking human capital.

Week 31

Climate finance

Insurer Parhelion set to insure the energy transition

Julian Richardson, founder of insurer Parhelion, is going to focus on underwriting climate-related investments. In meeting the challenge of the energy transition, new business models and technologies emerge, and, inevitably, new insurance risks, he says.

Blended finance

Thinking local to plug the funding gap

The UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provision of a €106mn callable capital facility boosts local currency guarantor GuarantCo’s efforts to close the infrastructure financing gap in Africa and Asia.

Learned in lockdown

‘I’ve become more of a people person’

This summer Impact Investor talks to investors and entrepreneurs about how the pandemic shifted priorities. This week: Philip Tan, managing director of Polestar Capital.

Week 30

Learned in lockdown

‘Together we can really bring about change’

This summer Impact Investor talks to investors and entrepreneurs about how the pandemic shifted priorities. This week: Nanouk Grootendorst, programme manager social enterprises at Rabo Foundation in the Netherlands.

Week 29

Sustainable fashion

Dutch investment fund takes up the fight against fast fashion

A growing demand for sustainable fashion prompts brands and retailers to change the way they work. The Good Fashion Fund wants to give manufacturers access to capital and expertise to scale up the new way of making clothes.

Calendar

Upcoming events

We curate a selection of the most relevant events across the different investment themes in Europe and some of the leading conferences globally. Please share your events with us by sending an email to editor@impact-investor.com.

Week 28

Investing in nature

All hands on deck to boost investments in nature-based solutions

The financial services sector is slowly getting its act together focussing on biodiversity-related risks and investing in nature-based solutions, but policymakers and regulators need to follow suit, says Margaret Kuhlow, Global Finance Practice Lead of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Blended finance

Confidence grows in blended finance structures

Confidence in the blended finance approaches pioneered over the last decade by companies such as Finance in Motion (FIM) is growing. FIM managing director Sylvia Wisniwski shares her experience with us.

Impact bonds

New EU focus on social outcome contracts

It’s a new buzzword in Brussels. Social outcome contracting is seen by the European Commission as a tool for orchestrating social change, with the potential to unlock large amounts of private investment.

Week 27

News

Dutch province launches ambitious outcomes fund

The clue is in its name: the Brabant Outcomes Fund pays investors a return based on performance. In fundraising for a new €20mn fund, the BOF is trying to find private investors' sweet spot.

Week 26

Week 25

Week 24

Calendar

Upcoming events

We're starting to curate a selection of the most relevant events across the different investment themes in Europe and some of the leading conferences globally.

Week 23

Fund profile

For VC fund 4impact much more is at stake than money

It seems simple: tech4good ventures offer digital solutions with a net positive impact on people and the planet. But investors in these businesses face double challenges, according to the co-founder of venture capital fund 4impact.

Profile

European investors flock to CBRE’s Affordable Housing Fund

‘DJ’, the charismatic Senior Fund Manager of CBRE GI's Affordable Housing Fund, tells us “the investment case for affordable housing has never been stronger.” European investors are being attracted by the security of income.

Week 22

Interview

Mainstream capital ready to deploy into social housing

The optics of sustainable and impact investing are appealing. Increasing numbers of mainstream asset managers are now offering impact investing funds in order to take advantage of the zeitgeist of ‘levelling up’ or ‘building back better’. One area standing to benefit is social housing.

Book review

Valuing Nature – A Handbook for Impact Investing

Investing in nature and biodiversity is a growing trend that is gaining a lot of attention. Especially now in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. William Ginn’s book is required reading for investors interested in environmental conservation.

week-21

Feature

Are we witnessing the end of waste?

The circular economy to keep the planet’s precious resources in productive use for longer is entering popular consciousness. EU policies are driving investment opportunities in getting rid of waste.

Interview

Investing as a ‘theory of change’

Jamie Butterworth, co-founding partner of Circularity Capital talks about ‘theory of change’ principles and how his company applies them to circular economy investments as a springboard for reinventing how the planet sustains itself.

Week 20

Feature

APG SDI platform to help map impact investments

It’s a question all impact investors are grappling with: how to quantify the impact of their investments. The Netherlands’ largest pension asset manager APG says it has the answer.

Profile

Future Food Fund: finding the next big agtech disruptor

A GPS cattle tracker, a harvester robot for white asparagus and a packaging-free online supermarket. These are some of the investments of the €12mn Future Food Fund (FFF), a Dutch seed capitalist that invests in innovative agricultural and food technologies.

Week 19

Week 18

Artificial intelligence

AI investing… it’s a private ‘and’ public affair

Artificial intelligence, combined with the boom in cloud computing, has huge investor potential in a wide variety of areas, from identifying and treating diseases to managing environmental impacts in industry and farming.

Artificial intelligence

AI can help impact investors

Artificial intelligence has the tools to improve how ‘impact investment’ decisions are made by factoring in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities better than ever before.

Week 17

Know-how

The ESG job market is heating up

The job market for sustainable investment roles has become so overheated that some firms are being priced out of the market for the best talent.
Impact investment funds, however, can still pick and choose. “I’ve got a plethora of candidates that really want to get into impact."

Impact measurement

'Measuring impact is now more important than ever'

Measuring impact is now more important than ever, acknowledges AFEX’s CEO Ayodeji Balogun. Over the last five years, AFEX has built a network of over 160,000 farmers and cumulatively facilitated over 200,000MT in trades, matching orders from producers and brokers with buyers on its trading platform at fair prices.

social cohesion

Cultural organisations 'uniquely placed to achieve social change'

Cultural institutions get all the more recognised for their ability to promote social cohesion and cultural diversity. If ever there’s a high urgency to invest in the arts, you could say it is now. Britain's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, Nesta, is showing how.

Week 16

Week 15

Energy transition

It’s never too late to make an impact

At the grand old age of 74, Hermann Schreier (with his wife and a couple of slightly younger Dutch friends), has thrown himself into what he hopes will become a market leader for buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Affordable housing

Investing in affordable homes to act on Europe’s housing crisis

The lack of affordable housing is a growing problem across Europe. The continent needs to invest in more decent and sustainable homes. An investment in an ‘energy-positive’ residential tower is showing one way of how this can be done.

Energy transition

Dutch National Growth Fund invests €73mn in hydrogen

A joint ‘green hydrogen’ bid by three public-private research and innovation partnerships in the Netherlands won a conditional €73mn commitment from the €20bn National Growth Fund last week.

Week 14

Sustainable Development Goals

‘Standardisation of SDGs is not a silver bullet’

The creation of a single, standardised approach to measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) won’t absolve investors of the need to do their own due diligence, a panel of asset owners told the Phenix Virtual Impact Summit last week.

Impact measurement

‘Faking impact is getting easier’

With so many companies jumping on the impact investing bandwagon in recent years, the risk of ‘impact washing’ is growing. "Just with a good budget, you can sell an impact report to investors."

Week 13

Off-grid solar energy

Investor appetite for off-grid solar investments in Africa remains robust

Fresh investments in Africa’s pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) energy market confirms investor interest in the sector is holding up - in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite a couple of high-profile bankruptcies highlighting the challenging economics facing PAYGo companies.

Active engagement

Church of England to focus more on its social impact

The Church Commissioners for England, manager of the Church’s £8.7 billion investment fund, is pushing harder for companies to change. It will use its voting rights to promote diversity at the top of firms and to raise concerns over climate change issues in particular. “We want all of our investments to have an impact,” says Bess Joffe, the Church Commissioners’ new Head of Responsible Investments.

Certification

Four reasons why a B Corp certification adds value for investors

“B Corp is for business what Fairtrade is for coffee.” That’s according to Stefanie Kneer, head of impact management at London-based fund manager Bridges Fund Management. “For us, B Corp is probably one of the most relevant social and environmental accreditations."

Week 12

Development finance

European guarantee to boost innovation

A European guarantee instrument played a major role in Invest NL’s decision to invest €7.5 million in Protix in the form of a convertible loan. What is the so-called InnovFin SME Guarantee?

Alternative proteins

Insects are a growing market for impact investors

Thanks to their low carbon footprint, insects are becoming increasingly popular as a cheap and alternative form of protein. With the insect-farming business forecast to be worth more than $4.1 billion a year by 2025, according to researcher Arcluster, impact investors have caught the bug.

Activist investor

The Skeptic: Will a responsible investor shake up Exxon Mobil?

One of Wall Street’s leading responsible investors, Jeff Ubben, has joined the board of Exxon Mobil. This has been widely interpreted as an attempt by Exxon to see off a looming shareholder revolt at its annual meeting in May. Or is it more than 'impact washing'?