As people, citizens, employees and consumers, the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected — and tested — all of us. Some more acutely than others, of course. And while the level of challenge, strife and loss is undeniable, there have also been extraordinary examples of innovation and aid. We know this to be particularly true within the impact investing landscape, as the COVID-19 pandemic presented a new set of challenges — and opportunities — for impact investors. As longtime impact investors ourselves (we’ve been investing in impact-focused programs since 2001), we are keenly aware of the positive ripple effect a transformative or well-timed new product or service can have on a community or society. We recently examined our portfolio of impact investments, seeking to understand how some of the companies in which we are invested were adjusting and persevering over the last 18 months. What we found was not only encouraging, but also inspiring — and we’re exceedingly proud to have backed companies that are supporting their communities and providing solutions to the challenges created or amplified by the pandemic. Companies already focused on having a positive impact on society and/or the environment were often even more relevant and impactful throughout the pandemic. Below are just a few examples of those companies.
As global quarantines began, Benevity — a provider
of employee engagement, community investment
and customer engagement solutions — enabled more
than 500 of its client companies and 450,000 of their
people to support communities most in need, with
$640 million in donations, 786,000 volunteer hours,
53,000 small acts of goodness and 8,648 corporate
grants in support of global causes in just the first
eight weeks. In fact, 2020 set a record for the highest annual donation volume in the company’s history,
at $2.3 billion. Benevity’s core focus of facilitating
charitable giving, corporate grants and community
support continues to gain momentum as more
companies look to enable action on important
societal issues and engage their employees in a
hybrid workforce. Employees engaged in giving
and volunteering have shown to be 57% less likely
to churn — a powerful tool in the current climate in
which talent is in high demand.
As consumers around the world shifted to online shopping, Imperfect Foods — an online grocery delivery service on a mission to build a better food system — rose to the challenge, and then some. Imperfect Foods is a unique service that not only addresses environmental sustainability through reducing food waste, but also provides social programs to improve food security to vulnerable communities. When the pandemic forced the closure of movie theaters, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, and more, the company began sourcing food items like unused popcorn, airline snack trays, and ocean-caught tuna, from these businesses to add to its offerings for consumers. And that’s not all. At the same time, in partnership with local organizations, Imperfect Foods donated more than 3.6 million pounds of food to 78 nonprofit partners in 2020 alone. These metrics amplify Imperfect Foods’ notable achievements around reducing food waste and avoiding CO2 emissions into the environment.
Aerosafe, a cold-chain sustainable packaging
and logistics provider, expanded its work with
pharmaceutical partners in a truly critical way. Its
unique packaging enables products to remain at a
sustained -70 degrees Celsius throughout shipment,
which happened to be the same temperature required
for transporting certain COVID-19 vaccines. Aerosafe
became a lifeline for delivering those vaccines to
distribution points around the world. Today, Aerosafe
is supporting global vaccine delivery in approximately
85 countries through 15 partner service sites. The company also works with pharmacies to help store
vaccines properly upon arrival, and provides lastmile delivery services to long-term care facilities
and patients unable to leave their homes. It is a truly
impactful, life-saving mission.
No one could have imagined the innumerable ways the pandemic has affected societies, communities and individuals around the globe. COVID-19 not only threatens lives and livelihoods, it has also accelerated and laid bare existing trends and challenges in need of solutions. Across the impact investment landscape, a handful of innovative companies — bootstrapped by private capital and which were already focusing on positive outcomes at the intersection of business and impact — have been able to accelerate and amplify their impact. As an impact investor, Hamilton Lane found further conviction in our thematic approach toward investing in companies providing solutions while helping drive positive change in the world.
We’d welcome you to learn more about our long-standing approach to impact investing here.