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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
and corporate social responsibility.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Impact Investing

This category includes articles about people, firms and foundations that invest in social good by investing in social entrepreneurs, social impact or pay-for-success bonds, etc.

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Change Finance Launches CHGX, Impact Investing ETF

First truly fossil fuel-free ETF utilizes diversified impact screens

Press Release – New York, NY, October 10th, 2017 — Change Finance, a majority women-run asset manager, today announced the launch of its first ETF. The Change Finance Diversified Impact U.S. Large Cap Fossil Fuel Free ETF (CHGX) is the only ETF that uses diversified impact screens to look beyond excluding fossil fuels, taking a comprehensive approach to socially responsible investing.

CHGX’s methodology is informed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These internationally agreed-upon standards seek to eradicate poverty, protect planetary life support, and achieve lasting peace and dignity for humanity. Change Finance, devoted to providing impact-focused, performance-oriented investments, uses the SDGs to craft investment options for customers who care about impact and income.

“CHGX is a new chapter in investing,” said Donna Morton, Change Finance CEO. “Our investors want alignment with what they care about, without sacrificing performance. Fossil fuel-free is essential, but CHGX then goes further, divesting not only from companies who dig up, refine, burn and service fossil fuels, but also from companies that are serious polluters, that have significant human or labor rights violations, and that fail to meet a variety of other social and environmental standards. No other ETF does this.”

CHGX goes beyond fossil fuel-free screens as well. “We reject companies that produce pesticides or military weapons, engage in corrupt business practices or have exploitative relationships with labor and Indigenous people,” Andrew Rodriguez, Change Finance President, added. “We move money from harm to healing—harnessing our collective experience in social change. The result is an ETF that invests in companies built for the 21st century. This sort of smart investing can solve some of the worst social and environmental issues, and we believe it could serve as a core holding in any investor’s portfolio. Think of us as inspired by the values of “Occupy,” but powered by the acumen of Wall St.”

A growing body of academic research suggests that ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors can also be predictive of outperformance. “We see ‘investing to turn a profit’ versus ‘investing with your personal values’ as a false trade-off,” said Dorrit Lowsen, Change Finance COO. “You don’t have to choose between the two. There’s ample evidence that doing good for people and planet is actually just plain good business.”

CHGX’s index begins with the 1,000 largest U.S.-listed companies and applies a series of ESG screens to exclude companies that are deemed to be “bad actors,” whether they operate in the oil, gas, coal, or tobacco industries among others, or have engaged in any sort of business malpractice. The fund has an expense ratio of 0.75%, and intends to spur changes in companies through shareholder advocacy. CHGX will track the performance of the Change Finance Diversified Impact U.S. Large Cap Fossil Fuel Free Index.

“After applying these screens, what you’re left with are good global corporate citizens—large cap, U.S.-based companies representing a range of sectors,” said Hunter Lovins, Change Finance Executive Vice President of Impact, “We believe these are some of the best companies with long-term business models. They are conscientious regarding their impact on employees, supply chains, people, and planet. They do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint, implement inclusive employment practices, harness the wisdom of women, and seek to do good in the communities where they do business. They are what I want to own.”

About Change Finance

Change Finance is committed to transforming the financial landscape by providing impact investing products that are good for people, planet, and investors. The firm is the only majority woman-owned and managed financial company offering ETFs that are truly fossil free, clean, and responsible. Change Finance’s approach to investing emphasizes investing in service to life, which it implements through a “divest from harm, invest in healing” methodology, grounded in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We believe finance is the mother of all human systems. Where capital flows, momentum follows. As investors make statements with which funds they choose to invest in, corporations are primed to listen and respond. In this way, Change Finance’s suite of funds enables investors to drive impact, creating an economy in service to life through financial activism. For more information, please visit changefinanceETF.com.

The fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses must be carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other important information about the investment company. It may obtained by calling 1-303-339-0524 or emailing info@change-finance.com. Read it carefully before investing.

Investing involves risk. Principal loss is possible. Investments in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) involve additional risks such as declines in the value of real estate and increased susceptibility to adverse economic or regulatory developments. The social, governance, and/or environmental policy of the Fund could cause it to make or avoid investment that could result in the portfolio underperforming similar funds that do not have such policies. The Fund is a recently organized, diversified management investment company with no operating history. As a result, prospective investors have no track record on which to base their investment decisions. The Fund may trade at a premium or discount to NAV. Shares of any ETF are bought and sold at market price (not at NAV) and are not individual redeemed from the Fund. Brokerage commissions will reduce returns. The performance of the funds may diverge from that of the index. Because the funds may employ a representative sampling strategy and may also invest in securities that are not included in the index, the funds may experience tracking error to a greater extent than funds that seek to replicate an index. The funds are not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the index.

The Change Finance Diversified Impact U.S. Large Cap Fossil Fuel Free ETF is distributed by Quasar Distributors, LLC.


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SolarNow Receives $6 Million Syndicated Off-Grid Solar Financing Facility

Leading off-grid solar company SolarNow and investors SunFunder, Oikocredit and responsAbility Investments announce a new syndicated receivables financing facility amounting to $6 million. Structured as a bankruptcy-remote special purpose vehicle, the facility will enable SolarNow to deploy solar home systems to a broad section of Uganda’s off-grid population by offering credit to end users.

Press Release – The $6 million facility is SolarNow’s second structured asset finance instrument, known a s SAFI, arranged by SunFunder. SAFI is a bankruptcy-remote special purpose vehicle designed for solar companies deploying systems through pay-as-you-go and solar leasing models in developing countries. It enables them to expand their offerings and reach more people living without access to energy.

The syndication was led by SunFunder, with each lender providing $2 million to the facility. While it is SolarNow’s second SAFI transaction, it represents the first syndicated SAFI in the market. SunFunder, acting as the Arranger, Lender and Facility Agent, arranged the $6 million facility with social investor Oikocredit and an energy fund focusing on energy access and managed by responsAbility Investments as co-investors.

SolarNow and SunFunder have now completed five transactions together, tracking the growth of the sector itself from humble origins to larger and increasingly sophisticated deployments.

Willem Nolens, SolarNow CEO, says, “We are thrilled to continue building our fruitful relationship with SunFunder. So far, it has allowed us to focus entirely on our growth and profitability reaching more than 25,000 clients. This new step of our partnership will enable us to continue tackling the massive unmet market opportunity in East Africa of providing affordable energy to millions of off-grid households, and to reach 70% of Uganda’s off-grid population with solar home systems.”

Ryan Levinson, SunFunder CEO, says, “Our customers need more scalable, less time-consuming financing options so they can focus on their core business delivering solar energy. By leading syndications, SunFunder offers solar companies larger ticket size loans with less hassle. We are delighted to build on our long-standing relationship with SolarNow and bring in additional investors.”

Speaking on behalf of responsability, Stefan Issler, Head Direct Investments, Energy Debt Financing, underlines: “Access to energy is a core topic when it comes to developing economies. By channeling financing to companies like SolarNow, we actively develop markets and infrastructure, thereby addressing the basic needs of broad sections of the population.”

Maite Pina, Investment Officer at Oikocredit, says, “With this securitization Oiko credit demonstrates its commitment to supporting SolarNow and off-grid solar in the long-term. We see SolarNow as a company that prioritises its customers in order to meet their needs with the right solar products and services. It is also important to us that SolarNow aims to contribute towards Uganda’s development and economy.”


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Mission Edge Offers Local Social Innovators a Chance to Win $10,000+

Local Organizations Pitch to Launch or Scale Up Social Enterprises

Press Release – October 18, 2017 – SAN DIEGO, CAMission Edge has announced the San Diego Accelerator and Impact Lab (SAIL) Pitch Night, which will take place on October 24th at 5:30 PM in the Irwin M. Jacobs Hall at Qualcomm. Sponsored by The San Diego Foundation, Union Bank, Qualcomm Incorporated, and Cox Communications, the SAIL Pitch Night will highlight the social enterprise ideas of eight nonprofit organizations, all of whom created cutting-edge, sustainable, revenue-based business models in alignment with their social missions. One local organization will be the recipient of a $10,000 audience choice award.

Each contestant participating in the event is currently engaged in the SAIL program, a robust ten-week accelerator led by Mission Edge and Impact Without Borders. SAIL’s curriculum and coaching focuses on articulating, piloting, validating, planning, and pitching revenue-generating business models. “Impact Without Borders is pleased to collaborate with Mission Edge on the launch of SAIL, through the delivery of workshops on rapid innovation and business model articulation, which aim to enhance the success of social enterprises,” said B.H. Kim and Kaison Tanabe, Co-Founders of Impact Without Borders.

Participating organizations include:

SAIL participants have been working closely with mentors and investors, while engaging in interactive workshops and benefitting from Mission Edge’s expert advisory services.

“SAIL has really kick started our social enterprise launch into high gear,” shared Zoe Hayman, Development Manager at Outside the Lens, a program participant. “Although we’ve piloted some pieces of our project, SAIL has given us the structure and the know-how to launch this project right. With the help of Mission Edge, we’re working to diversify and stabilize our funding to ensure that under-resourced classrooms have access to the digital media education necessary to participate in 21st century communication.”

“The San Diego Foundation collaborates with the region’s nonprofit community to pursue innovative strategies that help improve the quality of life for all San Diegans,” noted Kathlyn Mead, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “The social enterprise ideas presented by these eight organizations show how non-traditional business models can yield dividends in community impact and nonprofit financial sustainability.”

The San Diego business community is also embracing the program’s impact and efforts to create a more innovative and sustainable social sector.

“Innovation isn’t just happening in the business world. It’s also happening in the community,” said Chanelle Hawken, Vice President of Public Affairs for Cox Communications. “As a company founded on innovative ideas, Cox Communications is proud to support the innovative efforts by nonprofit organizations working hard to make San Diego a better place.”

“Innovation and community impact are important for us,” commented SAIL sponsor Qualcomm. “Working with Mission Edge to champion social enterprise innovation is an important example of our commitment to foster the advancement of the San Diego community. The SAIL program is a natural extension of our collaboration, which includes helping myriad nonprofit organizations through our employee-led skills-based volunteer projects and community engagement initiatives.”

A networking reception with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails will follow the awards ceremony. Tickets can be purchased here. To learn more about SAIL or receive a complementary media pass to the SAIL Pitch Night, please contact Mission Edge at sail@missionedge.org and connect with us on social media by using #SAILwithMissionEdge.


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ImpactUs Marketplace Welcomes Two New Issuers to its Online Impact Investing Platform

Press Release – Washington, D.C.— Ahead of SOCAP17, impact investing’s leading industry conference, financial technology provider ImpactUs has announced two new issuers to its impact investing platform, ImpactUs Marketplace—a community-driven site that offers institutions, individuals and financial advisors an extensive range of private impact investing opportunities.

The two issuers* are mission-driven organizations dedicated to building strong, healthy and successful communities, and will be at SOCAP17 all week:

  • Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF): LIIF is a national community capital organization that has invested more than $2 billion to build healthy, vibrant communities and create pathways of opportunity for over 2 million low income people.
  • Meow Wolf: An arts and entertainment company that creates immersive, interactive experiences to transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story. This certified B Corp transforms community spaces with 400,000 visits in the last 12 months at its Santa Fe, New Mexico location. The company provides living wages to artists, advancing the arts and creative economy.

*Some of these issuers’ offerings are only available to accredited investors. Investing in private investments requires high risk tolerance, low liquidity concerns, and long-term commitments. Investors must be able to afford to lose their entire investment.

The new issuers added to the platform mark a milestones for ImpactUs. Meow Wolf is ImpactUs’ first early-stage venture and first issuer that brings a creativity lens to impact investing through the ImpactUs Marketplace. The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) is the first Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) on the platform available to non-accredited investors.

“These two organizations are the newest examples of a growing number of mission-driven institutions that are expanding their reach to prospective impact investors and bolstering support for their current investors by utilizing our technology and administrative services,” said Reginald Stanley, President and CEO of ImpactUs.

The foundational support necessary to launch ImpactUs was provided by some of the leading organizations in the social impact sphere, including MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Open Road Alliance, Enterprise Community Partners and City First Enterprises.

“Organizations like these are vital to our shared-mission of creating flourishing communities through impact investments. We’re excited to make our services and technology available to help these institutions connect with investors that share their vision for vibrant and supportive communities,” said Liz Sessler, Vice President of ImpactUs. “Investors can seek both financial and impact returns in the (areas or sectors) of affordable housing, healthcare, employment, and now, the arts, through these issuers.”

ImpactUs will have a strong presence at and around SOCAP17. CEO Reginald Stanley will be a participant in the 4:00 PM PDT SOCAP panel on Thursday, October 12 titled “Bridges Not Walls: Interdependence Powering Greater Impact in North America and Beyond,” while Vice President Liz Sessler will be on a panel with LIIF on Wednesday, October 11th titled “Off Wall Street: the Democratization of Impact-First Investing.” ImpactUs looks forward to meeting with like-minded organizations.

Those interested in learning about these investment opportunities and more can log onto www.ImpactUsMarketplace.com to register.

About ImpactUs

ImpactUs Marketplace simplifies the impact investing process. It provides investors, advisors, and impact organizations greater choice at accessible costs while directing more capital to funds and projects that seek to deliver community, societal, and environmental benefits. Every day, ImpactUs connects investors with purpose, creating more equitable and thriving communities.

The information contained in this press release does not constitute an offer or solicitation and may not be treated as an offer or solicitation (i) in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation is against the law; (ii) to anyone to whom it is unlawful to make such an offer or solicitation; (iii) if the person making the offer or solicitation is not qualified to do so. The issuers named in this press release can only be marketed in certain jurisdictions only.

All securities related activity is conducted through ImpactUs Marketplace LLC a registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, located at 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20009. ImpactUs does not make investment recommendations and this communication should not be construed as a recommendation for any security offering named in this press release. Private investments are only suitable for investors who are familiar with and willing to accept the high risk associated with private investments. Securities sold through private investments are not publicly traded and are intended for investors who do not have a need for a liquid investment.


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New Report Reveals £300bn Opportunity For The ‘Impact Economy’

Press Release – The UK National Advisory Board for Impact Investing (UK NAB) has highlighted the opportunity to unlock an additional £300 billion in investments that directly address social and environmental challenges, and establish the UK as a global hub for impact investing.

The report, titled “The Rise of Impact: Five Steps Towards an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy”, is aimed at business leaders, investors and Government. It identifies five areas where action is required to build an inclusive economy that accelerates the rise of purposeful business and enables more people and places to benefit from economic success.

Recommendations include the creation of a £2 billion UK Inclusive Economy Catalyst Fund which could jump-start investment and stimulate opportunities in communities that have seen decades of under-investment and no real income growth. This is expected to draw in significant private investment and reach tens of billions of pounds over 5-10 years, tackling issues including social care, affordable housing and climate change.

Recognising both the imperative and the benefits of action, the report highlights how institutional investors can seize on the investment prospects that will help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK, following the precedent of European financial institutions that are already leading the way. A coalition of the largest investors in the Netherlands – with a combined 2.8 trillion Euros in assets under management – has already agreed an action plan for investing in SDG themes, and the UK is in danger of falling behind.

Michele Giddens, Chair of UK NAB and Co-Founder and Partner at Bridges Fund Management, said:

“Impact investing has shown its value across multiple sectors and asset classes, achieving strong returns on investment while also financing new solutions to some of the UK’s most difficult social and environmental challenges. Over the last few years we have seen an explosion of interest globally, with more and more mainstream investors coming into the space. We are reaching the tipping point; we hope this report can help the sector move from the margins to the mainstream and, in the process, enable the UK to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

“The world is facing a funding gap of tens of trillions in addressing sustainable development issues and recent political events have highlighted that large segments of the UK population feel left behind by economic growth. If investors, business leaders and policy makers all consider social and environmental impact alongside financial value then we can start to redress these issues. This is an incredible opportunity to evolve our traditional investment model and release billions of pounds to reduce inequality, protect our scarce resources and stimulate innovative new solutions.”

Other recommendations in the report include the creation of ‘Pensions with Purpose’ that will enable savers to invest in line with their values. UK NAB highlights the potential of harnessing the assets within Defined Contribution (DC) pension schemes, which are predicted to grow six-fold to $1.7 trillion over the next two decades. Three-quarters (77 percent) of DC pension fund members have already said they would prefer a social investment fund compared to a conventional one; and 44 percent said they would do so even if their final retirement pot ended up eight percent smaller .

Government is the single largest buyer of goods and services in the UK and UK NAB wants it to place even more emphasis on social value within public procurement. It is also calling for more support for purposeful businesses that contribute positively to society and the environment, and has outlined an enhanced role for the UK in international development finance – with CDC visibly championing investment in developing markets, and large asset owners allocating more of their capital to address challenges aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The UK has been recognised as a global leader in impact investing since the Government commissioned the first Social Investment Task-force in 2000. The world’s first social impact bond was launched in the UK in 2010, and the world’s first social investment bank Big Society Capital was also created in the UK in 2012. A representative of the Government’s Inclusive Economy Unit has attended UK NAB’s Practitioners’ Council as an Active Observer throughout this process.

There is currently at least £150 billion of capital currently committed to impactful investments in the UK, and interest in the area has been growing. Mainstream investors such as Barclays, Blackrock and Standard Chartered have recently joined Bridges Fund Management, Un Ltd and other pioneers by launching products or platforms that explicitly seek both to achieve financial returns and drive social change.

Sacha Romanovitch, member of UK NAB Advisory Board and CEO of Grant Thornton UK LLP said:

“Imagine a world where everyone could say ‘I know where my money goes and the positive impact it has – as a tax payer, saver, consumer’. A world where investing with impact is not at the expense of financial return. This report shows this is already emerging and provides a vision and a plan for putting purpose at the heart of our economy. When this happens, we’ll build markets people trust and in turn that will drive innovation. We’ll have environments that enable business and people to flourish. We’ll have dynamic organisations, growing sustainably. We’ll have a vibrant economy.”

UK NAB is the UK’s voice in a Global Steering Group of 15-member states plus the EU, chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen, which was established as the successor to the Social Impact Investment Taskforce set up during the UK presidency of the G8. It is composed of a diverse group of senior leaders drawn from across the public, private and non-profit sectors of the economy, united by a single vision: to build an including and sustainable economy by ensuring that measureable impact is regularly embraced as a deliberate driver in investment and business decisions, to create better outcomes for all stakeholders and wider society. Chaired by Michele Giddens (co-founder of Bridges Funds Management), its members include David Blood (co-founder of Generation Investment), Saker Nusseibeh (CEO of Hermes Investment Management), Sacha Romanovitch (CEO of Grant Thornton), and Hazel Blears (former Labour MP).

For a copy of the report and recommendations, please visit www.uknabimpactinvesting.org.

1 April 2017, Peter Thomson, President of UN General Assembly estimated a shortfall of US $90 trillion over 15 years to 2030; in July 2016 the World Economic Forum estimated a shortfall of $3.9 trillion per year

2 DCIF (2013) ‘Identifying new ways to engage savers in Defined Contribution Pensions’

3 UK National Advisory Board on Impact Investing: 2017 Impact Investing Guidance note


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IIX Catalyzes Impact Investing in the Pacific with Pacific Trade Invest Australia

Press Release – SINGAPORE, 2 October, 2017 – IIX announces the signing of a letter of engagement with Pacific Trade Invest Australia (PTI Australia), the lead trade and investment promotion agency in the region, to catalyze growth of the impact investing market across the Pacific Islands. Drawing on PTI Australia’s extensive network in the region, IIX will begin to effectively build the market for impact investing beginning in aquaculture and agriculture sectors with plans to expand the ecosystem deeply across sixteen pacific island countries and the surrounding oceans. This understanding between IIX and PTI Australia aims to drive economic growth in the region while highlighting the potential of women-focused enterprises in the agriculture, ecotourism and fisheries industries.

Chad Morris, General Manager, Investment & Tourism, PTI Australia said that he welcomes formalizing the relationship between the two initiatives. “IIX is achieving great things in the impact investment space. I’m excited about the opportunities formally strengthening our relationship brings for the people of the Pacific Island countries.”

IIX Founder, Durreen Shahnaz, expresses, “The Pacific is a region brimming with innovative companies tackling the pressing social and environmental challenges of today. IIX is beyond excited to work with leading institutions to strengthen the impact investing movement and apply a multi-stakeholder approach to sustainable development across the pacific island countries that are some of the most vulnerable countries in the world.”

IIX officially extended its reach into the Pacific earlier this year working in the fisheries sector and then expanding its involvement with support from PTI Australia and Pacific Readiness for Investment in Social Enterprise (Pacific RISE). Pacific RISE is an innovative initiative of the Australian Government established to pioneer and facilitate a social impact investment market in the Pacific. With the support of Pacific RISE, IIX has facilitated an accelerator program with Australian Business Ventures and are looking to support impact enterprises with a gender lens. Together, Pacific RISE and IIX also educated global investors on the potential of impact investing in the region through an online webinar series. Both PTI Australia and Pacific RISE are supported by the Australian Government via the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

About IIX:

Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) is a Singapore-based impact enterprise that builds pathways to connect backstreets of underserved communities to the Wall Streets of the world through impact investing. IIX investment platforms and innovative financial products enable impact enterprises to accelerate their business and scale their positive impact, while pushing the impact investing space from the margins to the mainstream. To date, the work of IIX has spanned 20 countries and continues to expand with the mission of unlocking US$5.6 billion of impact investment capital, impacting 300 million lives by 2022.

About Pacific Trade Invest Australia:

Founded in 1979, Pacific Trade Invest Australia (PTI Australia) is an Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)-funded Pacific Island agency that creates jobs in the Pacific Islands by facilitating trade and attracting impact investment into the region. With an extensive network and a deep understanding of the Pacific Islands, PTI Australia supports private sector growth to reduce aid reliance, making long-term, sustainable improvements to the region’s economy and the livelihoods of Pacific Islanders.


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Creating Jewish Leadership in Impact Investing: LAVAN Announces First Fellowship Cohort!

Press Release – From large financial institutions to the world’s most influential philanthropic foundations, impact investing has emerged as powerful tool for social change, and a decisive point of attraction for the next generation. Building on this momentum, LAVAN’s newly launched Impact Investor Fellowship brings together a select group of 28 Jewish leaders committed to aligning their individual and communal assets with their values.

See the full list of LAVAN Fellows

Demonstrating the broad relevance of impact investing for the Jewish community, the Fellowship has drawn leaders from fields spanning government, philanthropy, social change, tech, entertainment, and finance. These individuals are seeking to make a positive impact using not only their own assets, but also those of the organizations, synagogues, and philanthropic foundations they influence.

“Like many members of my generation, I want to make sure that my investments are true to what I believe in”, says Jonah Mink, MD, a member of the Schusterman ROI Community and one of the co-creators of the Fellowship. “I’ve been looking for a way to learn about impact investing for many years, and the opportunity to do so among a cohort of Jewish leaders and within a framework of Jewish learning makes the process all the more meaningful”.

Over the course of the next eight months, the Fellows will utilize Jewish texts and teachings to explore their personal and communal values, and learn how to tackle large social and environmental challenges using market mechanisms, in their personal lives, and as a community.

The launch event held in New York on the eve of September 11th outlined the journey on which the Fellows are embarking. Centered on the question of ‘What type of person do I want to be in light of the great challenges around us?’, the participants explored notions of individual and collective responsibility in Judaism, using the text of the Viddui (confession), a part of the Yom Kippur prayer. The event concluded with a keynote address by Ron Cordes, co-founder of the Cordes Foundation and a leader in the impact investing movement. Cordes described his journey from starting a large asset management firm to co-founding one of the first foundations to align 100% of its capital with its mission.

The LAVAN Impact Investor Fellowship was made possible with the generous support of the Schusterman Foundation’s ROI Community, EJF Philanthropies, and several private donors. “I’m so honored and thankful to be able to support this program” says Simone Friedman, Head of Philanthropy and Impact Investment for EJF Philanthropies. “The opportunity that the program is providing is not just for the participants to become impact investors in their private lives, but leaders for the Jewish community and for the rest of the world”.


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Grants Catalyze Innovative Food-Oriented Development Projects In 23 Communities

The Kresge Foundation awards $4.6M in implementation grants for projects that combine healthy food & Creative Placemaking as part of the FreshLo initiative

Press Release – September 20, 2017 (DETROIT) – Innovative approaches to economic development, cultural expression and health are at work in 23 U.S. communities with The Kresge Foundation’s investment of $4.6 million in grants to develop pioneering food-oriented initiatives.

Nonprofit organizations and coalitions from across the nation will be awarded $200,000, two-year grants to implement neighborhood-scale projects that increase equitable economic opportunity for residents by using an approach that blends health, community development and Creative Placemaking.

Dubbed “FreshLo” – for “Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization” – the initiative is a joint effort by Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program and Health Program. FreshLo is the first national program to intentionally and equitably integrate food, art and community development to drive neighborhood revitalization at this scale.

During the last year, community-based collaborations have worked together to create shared visions of FreshLo projects with their neighborhoods said Stacey Barbas, senior program officer with Kresge’s Health Program.

“All of these 23 partners developed thoughtful, powerful and community-led projects that reflect the culture and heritage of their neighborhoods,” Barbas said. “They are building incredibly dynamic on-the-ground ventures that we are truly excited to support.”

Examples of community-led projects include:

  • An open-air market in New Jersey that features local food, vendors and artisans reflecting the Latino community heritage and culture in the Esperanza neighborhood.
  • A Creole food and cultural district in a Lafayette, Louisiana, neighborhood that will include local food production and public spaces animated by arts and culture.
  • A social enterprise center in Albuquerque that includes food processing facilities, art-based enterprises, a dual-language childcare program, and social support programs.
  • An organic nursery and aquaponics operation in the Sobrante Park neighborhood of East Oakland that will hire formerly incarcerated residents and will include restorative justice programming and skill-building workshops.

FreshLo embodies The Kresge Foundation’s philosophy that catalytic change to improve opportunity for low-income persons in America’s cities requires multidimensional approaches – not simply one program or sector working alone. By avoiding proscriptive solutions, Kresge has intentionally sought to encourage an expansive, unique and creative suite of projects through the FreshLo initiative. Kresge’s Creative Placemaking approach includes the deliberate integration of arts, culture and community-engaged design into comprehensive community development.

“The activities funded through these grants are indicative of how residents and community partners are using a suite of solutions that incorporates Creative Placemaking to address pressing issues such as food insecurity, vacancy and improving health outcomes. That can lead to reviving the economic activity in their neighborhoods,” said Regina R. Smith, managing director of Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program.

Organizations awarded implementation grants to develop food-oriented initiatives in their cities are:

Each organization completed a one-year planning phase for the projects, crafting unique approaches to addressing interrelated needs in culturally rich but low-income communities. The planning grants supported project management, partnership development, community engagement, strategic communications, policy development and other activities directly related to successful outcomes.


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Unitus Seed Fund’s Investments Impact 1.2 Million Lives Across India

Revenues have grown 106 per cent YoY and Investees have raised 3.64x additional capital

Press Release – 18 September 2017, Bangalore: Unitus Seed Fund, India’s leading impact venture fund investing in early-stage startups innovating for the masses, today released its semi-annual impact report, which is now mapped to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As of 30 June 2017, Unitus Seed Fund’s active portfolio of 14 companies have directly impacted over 1.2 million BoP (Base of the Economic Pyramid) lives across 29 states in India and created over 6, 200 sustainable, quality jobs. The fund’s portfolio companies have registered a 106 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth in revenues and have raised 3.6x additional capital since Unitus’ initial investment.

Will Poole, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Unitus Seed Fund said, “We are incredibly excited that we’ve crossed this important milestone of directly impacting over 1 million lives as a result of the work of our fast-growing portfolio companies. Unitus Seed Fund’s one million landmark is significant for the entire investing ecosystem: we’ve now shown the scale of impact a seed-level fund can achieve in a short span of four-and-a-half years.”

Since founding in 2013, Unitus Seed Fund has adopted a holistic, well-defined methodology of tracking and advancing portfolio companies’ progress and impact using industry standard IRIS metrics, now mapped to the SDGs:

Social (scale) – 1.2 mn BoP lives impacted and 6,227 jobs created
Portfolio companies are selected to have the potential to impact at least 100,000 BoP families through their products and services, and/or directly provide BoP individuals 1,000 formal jobs in 5 years.

Financial – 3.6x additional capital raised
Portfolio companies are on a path to financial sustainability through increased revenues and raising additional capital, enabling them to thrive and scale.

Ecosystem – 75+ advisors & 40+ strategic partners
Portfolio companies are continually engaged with local and global network of advisors, skilled service providers and strategic partners such that every company benefits from, influences, and accelerates the functioning of the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem in India.
Aligning Impact with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In a first-of-its-kind move within the Indian investment ecosystem, Unitus Seed Fund has aligned its impact outcomes with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which provide a universal language to communicate impact to a wide range of investors and other stakeholders. This standardized framework lets investors track cumulative progress across each SDG target and assess where capital can best flow to improve people’s lives and the planet while at the same time providing market rate financial returns.

Within the new framework, Unitus Seed Fund’s portfolio companies’ work aligns with four UN SDGs –

  • SDG #1 – End poverty
    487, 329 BoP lives directly impacted
  • SDG #3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being
    225,370 BoP lives directly impacted and US $2.8M revenues generated
  • SDG #4 – Ensure quality education for all
    67,390 BoP lives directly impacted and US $5.4M revenues generated
  • SDG #8 – Promote decent work for all and sustainable economic growth
    427,294 BoP lives directly impacted and US $11.6M revenues generated

“The UN SDGs are critical as they provide a common framework for any player creating impact to align with – from donors, to traditional and impact investors on one end and non-profits to impact businesses on the other. Through this move, we deeply encourage other ecosystem investors to utilize this framework as this multi-sector collaboration at the investment and impact level will enable us to improve the lives of millions of low-income people globally”, said Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, Partner at Unitus Seed Fund.

In its first Fund of USD $23 million, Unitus Seed Fund made a total of 23 investments across education, healthcare, financial technology, retail and e-commerce, mobile, consumer internet and agriculture. Unitus Seed Fund is currently raising its second fund of USD $50 million and plans to deploy it in across 25 – 30 startups in education, healthcare and financial technology by 2021.

Read all our previous years’ Impact Reports here >

About Unitus Seed Fund

Unitus Seed Fund is the leading impact venture fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in sectors including healthcare, education, mobile & consumer, retail & eCommerce, financial services, and agriculture. Founded in 2012, Unitus Seed Fund is managed by Capria Ventures which is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Seed Fund is based in Bangalore and Seattle, and is a member of the Capria Network.


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US SIF Foundation Releases Resource Guide For Retail Investors: “Getting Started In Sustainable And Impact Investing”

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C., September 14, 2017 – In response to rapidly growing demand for sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investing, the US SIF Foundation today released a new guide for retail investors, “Getting Started in Sustainable and Impact Investing.” This resource is a concise guide for retail, non-accredited investors exploring investment options such as mutual funds, ETFs, and direct ownership of stocks, as well as information on seeking professional investment help.

The US SIF Foundation reports a 33 percent growth in SRI assets under professional management in the United States from $6.57 trillion in 2014 to $8.72 trillion in 2016. However, most of this activity has been among institutional investors, which have ready access to professional SRI expertise, networks and associations.

“As interest in sustainable and impact investing expands, our goal in creating this guide was to provide a starting point for individuals who want to make a positive societal impact with their investments but aren’t sure where to begin,” said Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF.

A 2017 study by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing found 75 percent of individual investors expressing interest in sustainable investing. Similarly, the findings of a 2016 survey by Natixis Global Asset Management of 401k and other defined contribution plan participants also demonstrated interest in sustainable investments—64 percent were concerned about the environmental, social and ethical records of the companies in which they invested, while 74 percent said they’d like to see more socially responsible investments in their retirement plan offering.

The guide includes information on mutual funds, ETFs, direct ownership of stocks, and community-oriented cash and fixed income products, including banks and credit unions. The guide concludes with information on the best ways to seek investment advice from a financial professional.


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