Friday Funds: 30th October

The latest developments in ESG-related funds

Deutsche Bank, The Open Society Economic Justice Program, the Soros Economic Development Fund, the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, and the California Wellness Foundation have invested into a new $87.9m fund focused on reducing racial and gender bias in investment decisions. The fund, raised by Illumen Capital, will initially invest in approximately 10 to 12 social impact investment funds that seek equitable outcomes in education, health technology, financial inclusion, and sustainable energy.

Deutsche Börse and co-investor Mundi Ventures have led a $15m funding round for Clarity AI, a fintech start-up that enables investors to evaluate the social impact of companies and portfolios. The additional capital will drive the start-up’s sustainable expansion plans, including scaling-up investment in proprietary technology and AI, as well as integrating with the world’s largest financial services platforms.

Barclays has closed a £400m 2020 Green Bond. It is the second green bond issued by the bank, and was five times oversubscribed, according to Barclays. Funds raised are set to be allocated towards the financing and/or re-financing of mortgages on energy efficient residential properties in England and Wales originated within the last three years. The bond, which will mature in 2026, has received Climate Bonds Initiative certification.

Benson Hill has announced the close of a $150m Series D funding round led by Wheatsheaf Group and GV (formerly Google Ventures) to scale its commercial operations and its food innovation business CropOS, which uses genetic diversity to develop and commercialise healthier and more sustainable food and ingredient options.

Assets in sustainable funds have hit a record high of $1.2trn, up 19% from the second-quarter, according to Morningstar’s Q3 Global Sustainable Fund Flows Report. Alongside this, the financial services firm’s European Sustainable Fund Flows report found Europe surpassed the $1trn mark for the first time.

Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, the Harvard Business School Impact Collaboratory, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School have collaborated to develop the Impact Finance Research Consortium, which aims to build a database on the financial performance, due diligence practices, investor relations, legal governance, strategy, and management of impact investing funds across the world. The Consortium is currently contacting impact investing firms, with hopes of building a large and representative sample of the sector within six months.

As You Sow has expanded its Gender Equality Funds scope to include screens on whether companies have published gender-segregated pay information, have a strategy to close any gender pay gap, offer paid leave programs for childcare and flexible work locations and flexible start/end times, and have undertaken an audit or been awarded an independent gender audit certificate by an Equileap-recognized body. The non-profit shareholder advocacy organisation’s mutual fund grading system uses the Equileap Gender Equality Scorecard.

Denmark has declared its support for the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD); it is urging companies to demonstrate a commitment to building a more resilient financial system through better disclosures.