Impact Finance Bulletin: Tipping Point Fund makes first grants of $750k to influence US impact investing policy

Our regular impact finance bulletin brings you the latest funds, deals and programmes in the world of investing for good. Read on for some of the past month's headlines, and scroll down for more detail.

Impact Finance Bulletin



US: Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing makes first grants of $750k to influence impact investing policy

The Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, created in December 2019 to scale up impact investing, has announced its first batch of grantees. 

Eight organisations will share $752,000 to help “raise the voice of impact investors” and to “encourage leaders in Washington DC to consider how US federal policy can catalyse the flow of private capital towards urgent social, economic and environmental challenges”.

The Tipping Point Fund was created with funding from organisations including Blue Haven Initiative, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Omidyar Network; as of July 2020, it had raised $14m. The US Impact Investing Alliance facilitated the co-design and fundraising of the fund.

The eight grant recipients – intended “to present a wide array of policy solutions” in the run-up to this year’s presidential election – are:

  • B Lab, which will finalise and disseminate a white paper on new fiduciary standards requiring increased accountability and transparency on the impact on stakeholders of business operations and institutional investment decisions.
  • The Center for Strategic & International Studies, which will host discussions and develop a policy brief for lawmakers and officials on how to foster micro, small, and medium enterprises through development finance strategies.
  • Opportunity Finance Network, which will develop a new tax policy proposal to incentivise private investment in community development financial institutions.
  • Pacific Community Ventures, which will publish a white paper on impact investing policy ideas to advance quality jobs and address inequality in the US.
  • PRI Association, which will develop and advocate for policy recommendations to align financial regulation with more consideration of impact in investment processes.
  • The Sorenson Impact Center, which will research potential policy priorities to unlock catalytic capital in the impact investing market and refine promising solutions into a series of products tailored to policymakers.
  • Stockbridge Advisors, which will develop a guide to help policymakers embed principles of impact across initiatives and understand the "how" and "why" behind the impact they seek.
  • The Urban Institute, which will develop a series of papers explaining impact investing to policymakers, contextualising it within current critiques of philanthropy, and positioning it as a component of new wealth strategies.


UK: Youth Endowment Fund awards £6.5m of Covid funding to 130 organisations

The government-backed Youth Endowment Fund awarded £6.5m to 130 organisations in England and Wales as part of its Covid-19 grant round – having received some 1,000 applications requesting over £54m in total.

The funding will help grantees – charities, social enterprises, local authorities and youth organisations – to work with young people at risk of getting involved in violent crime and to tackle problems arising due to the pandemic, through online programmes, work in schools and youth work.

The Youth Endowment Fund was established in 2019 with a 10-year, £200m endowment from the Home Office to reduce youth offending; it is delivered by Impetus, the Early Intervention Foundation and Social Investment Business. The full list of Covid-19 grantees is here.


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Ireland: Rethink Ireland backs food growing enterprise GIY; Nestle partners with FoodCloud

Rethink Ireland (formerly Social Innovation Fund Ireland, having rebranded in June) confirmed a €1.27m, multi-year investment in GIY Ireland, with support from the Irish government’s dormant accounts fund. The money will allow GIY, a social enterprise helping people to grow some of their own food at home, at work, at school and in the community, to reach 1 million new food growers by next year.

Last month Rethink Ireland also opened round 2 of its Innovate Together Fund, which backs social innovation projects responding to Covid-19. The fund has raised €500,000 from Z Zurich Foundation, the private foundation funded by the Zurich Insurance Group. 

Separately, Nestlé Ireland announced a €110,000 partnership with FoodCloud, which redistributes surplus food to families in need via its 700+ partners, and which has seen a significant rise in demand since lockdown. FoodCloud’s other corporate partners include Tesco and Lidl.


UK: Sellafield corporation ramps up social impact in West Cumbria with £2.2m fund

Sellafield Ltd – the legal entity responsible for the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, north-west England – has relaunched its social impact programme and unveiled a first fund for vulnerable people.

SiX, which stands for ‘social impact, multiplied’, describes its work as “significant shift” and “a new approach to social impact which prioritises projects co-created with the community and stakeholders”. Sellafield’s latest social impact strategy says it aims “to deliver the maximum social impact from the £2bn of taxpayer money that we spend at Sellafield every year”.

The £2.2m Transforming West Cumbria fund is financed by Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and will be delivered by Cumbria Community Foundation. Initiatives include a £1.3m fund for community and voluntary groups, £660,000 to support families, £175,000 to fund financial education, and schemes supporting young entrepreneurs.

UK: Resonance kicks off £10m Supported Homes Fund for people with learning disabilities and autism

Social investment firm Resonance has created a new fund to help some of the thousands of adults with learning disabilities, autism or mental health problems who live in inappropriate housing or remain on long waiting lists due to housing shortages.

The Supported Homes Fund was created with learning disability housing provider Reside Housing Association and learning disability charity United Response. It has secured initial investment from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (£5m), Big Society Capital (£5m) and the Barrow Cadbury Trust (£250,000).

The fund will buy, refurbish and adapt – or potentially build – residential properties, initially with half of the money invested in property in Greater Manchester and the rest in other regions, and aims to provide investors with a financial return from rent and capital appreciation. The charity partners will help people to move out of unsuitable accommodation and into homes of their choice in their local communities, and provide further specialist support. 



USA: $3m seed funding jumpstarts Texas auto repair apprenticeship scheme

A Texas car repair social enterprise that aims to fill a skills gap and talent pipeline shortage has secured $3m seed investment from the Dallas-based Perot Foundation.

On the Road Garage is a new, year-long apprenticeship programme teaching advanced auto repair skills to vulnerable people, such as victims of domestic violence or former prisoners. It aims to train about 150 people over the next few years, according to Dallas News – and trained apprentices have the potential to go on to earn a six-figure income.

The programme’s founder, Michelle Corson, also created On the Road Lending in 2013, which provides low-interest loans, and On the Road Motors, a vehicle dealer that sources cars for clients directly at auction as a way to provide a low-cost option. Corson also created Champion Impact Capital to make investments in social enterprises, and On the Road Sustainability Funds, a private equity fund.


India: Omidyar Network funds 67 projects through $1.4m Covid relief fund

Omidyar Network India has allocated the full budget of its Rapid Response Funding Initiative for Covid-19 to 67 organisations.

Announced in March with a $1m commitment, the fund was extended to $1.4m through personal contributions by Omidyar employees.

It aims to support what Omidyar calls ‘the next half billion’ –  the people in the bottom 60% of India’s income distribution, including daily wage earners, gig-economy workers, and small businesses, who are among the most vulnerable to health and economic shocks of Covid-19.

Some 2,000 applications were received with most focusing on physical health, and nearly half technology-focused – primarily online and mobile based solutions.

NGOs and nonprofits have responded rapidly... they are adopting new technologies at a fast pace - Roopa Kudva, Omidyar Network India

Roopa Kudva, managing director at Omidyar Network India, called the response of the nonprofit sector to the crisis “truly awe-inspiring”. 

“NGOs and nonprofits have responded rapidly to provide cost-effective solutions. They are adopting new technologies at a fast pace. They are collaborating with each other to create a more effective response. If they continue to be funded adequately, these organizations will continue to play an increasingly greater role in India’s response to the pandemic both in the medium and the long term.”


UK: Nordea Asset Management backs pre-launch Big Exchange to make impact investing available to all

Nordea Asset Management has become a founding member of The Big Exchange – the new venture co-founded by The Big Issue – which aims to make impact investing and saving open to all.

The mobile-first Big Exchange service will offer hand-picked funds to retail investors, charging among the lowest possible rates in the market (£0.25 for every £100 invested, excluding management fees), while investing in businesses with a positive impact on society and the planet. It is currently in beta phase with launch expected by the end of the summer. 

Nordea’s responsible investment team is one of the largest in Europe in terms of pure ESG analysts. Anders Madsen, CEO of Nordea Asset Management UK, said: “Delivering returns with responsibility is more than just a statement for Nordea Asset Management – it has long been ingrained in our culture and business model. We are extremely pleased to support The Big Exchange, which will provide individual investors with the power to make a difference in helping to address today’s environmental and societal challenges.”

Nordea Asset Management joins 12 other founding members of the Big Exchange: Aberdeen Standard Investments, AllianceBernstein, Alquity, Civitas Social Housing plc., Columbia Threadneedle, Liontrust, Pictet, Quilter, Stewart Investors, Tortoise, UBP, and WHEB. 

Jill Jackson, managing director of The Big Exchange, said: “For the first time, people can see how their own money can count for more – benefitting their financial future and the wider world – Nordea fit with that philosophy perfectly… It is fantastic to get the support of an industry leader like Nordea to add to the already impressive group of founding members, putting their weight behind our mission.”


UK/Europe: ETF Partners raises £167m to back environmental tech innovators

London-based ETF Partners has closed its third Environmental Technologies Fund at £167m, which will back innovative companies in Europe helping deliver long-term, sustainable economic prosperity.

ETF Partners was launched 14 years ago to identify and invest in high-impact companies in digitally-led sustainability. The third fund has invested in firms working in smart mobility, ethical cybersecurity, microbiome AI and software, and energy efficient data centres, among others. It was raised from a combination of existing and new limited partners, including British Patient Capital – which provided a £20m cornerstone commitment – and the European Investment Fund.

Patrick Sheehan, managing partner at ETF Partners, said Covid-19 had propelled us into a digital age while also making people think about the future of our planet – making digitisation and sustainability the defining themes of the future.

“Throughout this recent crisis, many digital companies have proved themselves to be robust, and they are also ‘scalable’ – able to grow fast in relatively capital-efficient ways,” he said. “So, by harnessing the right digital tools, the world can move quickly to achieve both sustainability and prosperity. That’s where we invest. By viewing the world through the lens of sustainability, we can see opportunities that may not be immediately obvious to all, but these companies can grow quickly to be large and significantly important.”

By viewing the world through the lens of sustainability, we can see opportunities that may not be immediately obvious to all, but these companies can grow quickly - Patrick Sheehan, ETF Partners


US/Kenya: Vital Capital joins USAID programme to finance agribusinesses hit by Covid-19

Vital Capital, a private equity fund focused on sub-Saharan Africa, is to partner with the US government’s Kenya Investment Mechanism – a five-year programme funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to unlock financing for businesses affected by Covid-19.

The Kenya Investment Mechanism, managed by impact advisory and management firm Palladium, aims to unlock $400m in investment for key sectors of Kenya’s economy, including agriculture, and for regional trade and investment opportunities. 

Under the new deal, Vital Capital will identify and execute at least five completed transactions, providing at least $5m in financing and sustaining 500 jobs.

The news follows the launch in April of the Vital Impact Relief Facility, a $10m emergency loan facility offering critical funding to promising African businesses during the pandemic. The facility is now operational with loans ready to be deployed.

In Kenya, Covid-19 threatens livelihoods and food security in a nation that is already grappling with the worst locust infestation in 70 years and trying to recover from extensive flooding. Around 27% of households are suffering from food shortages, according to a recent survey by the World Bank, while in May, the Central Bank of Kenya warned that some 75% of the country’s SMEs face collapse without funding from banks or equity partners.


US/Global: Kiva Capital to develop $100m gender lens fund

USAID has awarded $2.5m to financial inclusion nonprofit Kiva to develop a $100m gender-focused impact fund. 

The funding comes from the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, billed the first ‘whole-of-government’ approach to women’s economic empowerment.

Kiva Capital, an impact-first asset manager and wholly-owned subsidiary of, will work with major asset owners and gender lens investing experts over 18 months to develop the new Kiva Invest in Women Fund. It aims to ultimately support 1 million women worldwide.

Since its founding in 2005, Kiva has deployed $1.4bn through its marketplace; more than 80% of these loans have gone to nearly 3 million women around the world.


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