Greetings, Agents of Impact!
On guns, faith-based investors provide an object lesson in shareholder engagement. In the debate over shareholder âengagementâ vs. âdivestment,â members of theÂ Interfaith Center on Corporate ResponsibilityÂ make a virtue of necessity. Faith-based organizations with pensions to pay and charity programs to fund often make the pragmatic choice to invest in the public markets. So they make it their business to watchdog the human rights records and social impact of the companies they own. Take guns. The coalition of more than 350 faith-based organizations managing more than $500 billion in assets proposed its first gun-related resolution toÂ WalmartÂ shareholders a quarter-century ago. After last monthâs mass shooting at an El Paso in Walmart that killed 22 people, the ICCRâsÂ David SchillingÂ sent condolences to Walmart CEOÂ Doug McMillon. âWe knew the company was needing to go through a discernment process and make changes,â he toldÂ ImpactAlpha.
Walmart this month announced that it would stop selling ammunition for assault rifles and handguns in its stores, and would discourage open-carry in its stores. The company is pushing Congress to strengthen background checks and to at least debate an assault rifle ban. âItâs clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,â McMillon wrote in a public memo. Of course, shareholder engagement means faith-based organizations have to maintain equity positions in companies with practices they oppose, and resist calls from other activists to, say, divest from fossil fuel-based companies. âIf you want to change the market, you have to own them to talk to them,â says Schillingâs colleague,Â Christina Herman. âOur members believe deeply in the markets and in the importance of companies acting in a way that will benefit society and the economy.â
Keep reading, âOn guns, faith-based investors provide an object lesson in shareholder engagement,â by Jessica Pothering on ImpactAlpha.
Goldman Sachs raises nearly $2 billion for solar yieldco. Goldman Sachsâs asset management arm closed on $1.9 billion in equity commitments forÂ Goldman Sachs Renewable Power LLC. The private renewable energy investment company buys or leases power and sells it under longterm contracts, a structure once known as a âyieldcoâ for its lucrative recurring dividends. Additional debt funding will bring the companyâs total capital to $4 billion. Since 2016, the unit has invested over $1.4 billion to assemble 1 gigawatt of distributed solar assets, making it one of the largest owners of distributed generation solar assets in the U.S. and a stable revenue stream for Goldman. In March, Renewable Power leased $87 million in commercial solar project leases fromÂ SunPower. Last year, it acquiredÂ SunTap, with nearly 200 megawatts of capacity in California and Arizona, fromÂ KKR & Co.Â Get illuminated.
Terramera aims to reduce chemical use in agriculture. The Vancouver-based company raised $45 million in a Series B financing led by new investorÂ Ospraie Ag ScienceÂ and returning investorÂ Seed2Growth (âS2Gâ) Ventures. Terramera says its technology increases the performance of natural and synthetic ingredients by delivering them directly into target cells, reducing the chemicals needed and boosting natural agents. The funding will help the nine-year old firm deliver on its goal of cutting global synthetic chemical loads by 80% while increasing global farm productivity and yields by 20%, according toÂ Jeff Booth, who chairs Terrameraâs board.Â Check it out.
Black-owned tech startups join Durhamâs Black Founders Exchange. Nearly a dozen ventures from across the U.S. and Canada will participate in the immersive program fromÂ Google for StartupsÂ andÂ American Underground, a Durham, NC-based startup hub. The program is designed to help participants overcome barriers faced by founders of color, such as racial bias in fundraising and operating in âentrepreneurial deserts.â The startups includeÂ Courtroom 5, a Durham company that helps individuals handle legal issues such as foreclosures and debt;Â Vuga, a Toronto company bringing low cost internet to Africa; New York-basedÂ Hued, which connects patients of color with medical professionals of color; andÂ Freeman Capital, a wealth management planning and financial education provider based in Charlotte, NC. âEconomic opportunity increases when there is a diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem,â said American UndergroundâsÂ Molly Demarest.Â More.
Lessons in frontier finance from 40 impact investments. The big opportunity in âfrontier financeâ for small and growing businesses: solving large problems for large populations.Â Omnivore, an India-based venture fund, for example, invested in Delhi-basedÂ Skymet Weather ServicesÂ in 2011 to generate better weather data necessary for crop insurance and lines of credit for Indiaâs small farmers. The firmâs crop insurance scheme has reached 10 to 12 million smallholder farmers and helped settle 4 million crop insurance claims. Omnivore expects a greater than 5x return on its investment. Still, âwithin these markets, opportunities for substantial impact remain unrealized,â says theÂ Rachel BassÂ of theÂ Global Impact Investing Network, which rounded up lessons from 40 frontier finance deals in âUnlocking the Potential of Frontier Finance.âÂ What we learned:
CDCÂ appointsÂ Tony MorganÂ as managing director of direct equityâŚÂ Mayada El-Zoghbi, previously with CGAP,Â joinsÂ theÂ Center for Financial Inclusion at AccionÂ as managing directorâŚÂ Mandy Van DevenÂ joinsÂ Nathan Cummings FoundationÂ as director of communicationsâŚÂ Gabby CazeauÂ comes onÂ atÂ Harlem CapitalÂ as a senior associateâŚÂ Project EquityÂ isÂ hiringÂ an employee ownership investment and capital consultant and other rolesâŚÂ 1863 VenturesÂ isÂ recruitingÂ women entrepreneurs and founders of color for its Pipeline Program accelerator (see, âMelissa Bradley: Boosting the success of Washington D.C.âs founders of colorâ)âŚ Register now for âMaking Capitalism Work for All,â anÂ American Sustainable Business CouncilÂ summit December 10 and 11 in Washington D.C.
Thank you for reading.Â
â Sept. 11, 2019