List of the Top Sustainability Focused Private Equity Firms
A diverse array of sustainability focused private equity (PE) firms are proliferating around the world. Many of these private investment funds are venture capitalist with startup and early stage investment strategies. These firms can be differentiated by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This alphabetized list of PEs is composed of firms that focus on one or more of the following SDGs: Climate action, clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, quality education, innovation and infrastructure, life below water, and life on land. The list of leading impact investment focused PE firms is presented according to the SDG goals they are associated with, however, all of these firms have a set of interests that extend beyond the category of their primary concern.
A list of PE firms focusing on other SDGs (no poverty, reduced inequalities, gender equality, zero hunger, good work, good health and well being) is included at the end of this report along with a short list of other non-PE, SDG focused investment firms.
While most of these firms are located in the United States, there are some serious players in Africa and Europe leads in terms of PE support for standards of responsible and sustainable investments. To illustrate, last year KKR‘s Euro Global Social Impact Fund raised $1.3 billion to invest in companies that provide solutions to environmental or social challenges.
Affordable Clean Energy
Clean Energy Ventures is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. Clean Energy Ventures is focused on affordable clean energy, cleantech, climate change, water, and sanitation. With the goal of “mitigation of climate change through energy innovation,” Clean Energy Ventures are funding ~25 disruptive startups which each have the potential to reduce GHGs by at least 2.5 gigatons by 2050. The firm is differentiated by its clean energy expertise, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
CrossBoundary LLC is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and has $50 – 99 million of assets under management. CrossBoundary focuses on clean energy, cleantech, climate change and education. Its essential infrastructure asset classes in Africa are designed to offer investors compelling financial, environmental, and social returns. CrossBoundary has created new asset classes for impact investors by leading the way with financing for commercial solar PV installations in Sub-Saharan Africa and rural solar mini-grid installations.
DBL Partners is headquartered in San Francisco, California, USA and has $500 – 999 million of assets under management. DBL focus on clean energy, cleantech, climate change, natural resources, conservation, and sustainable agriculture. DBL’s double bottom line strategy is designed to create a competitive advantage that affords social, environmental and economic benefits.
Encourage Capital, LLC is headquartered in New York, New York, USA and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. Encourage Capital focuses on clean energy, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, sustainable agriculture and small/medium business development. Encourage is a research-driven asset management and advisory firm that is tackling some of the most critical environmental and social problems. The firm’s business model is premised on the development and deployment of solutions strategies that address social and environmental issues. Encourage is differentiated by an outcomes focused tool agnostic approach.
Factor[e] Ventures PBC is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA and has less than $25 million of assets under management. Factor[e] focuses on clean energy, cleantech, climate change, sustainable agriculture, water and waste. The firm supports human health with cross-industry technical innovation in de-carbonization and leapfrog sustainable development. Factor[e] provides systematized support with its post-investment Engage Platform.
Galway Sustainable Capital is headquartered in Washington DC, USA and has has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. Galway focuses on clean energy and climate change with investments in distributed renewable power, carbon reduction and sequestration, waste to product, efficiency, green building, and sustainable agriculture. Galway invests in companies, projects and assets that promote environmental and social resilience through local solutions that build resource efficient platforms.
North Sky Capital, LLC is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA and has $1 billion or more of assets under management. North Sky focuses on clean energy, cleantech, climate change, nutrition, health, wellness, water and sanitation. North Sky is a pioneering firm with more than two decades of experience and a reputation as one of the largest impact private market platforms in North America . North Star’s diversified investments in clean energy generation, energy storage, transportation, water, waste, sustainable agriculture, healthy living and aging are aligned with the SDGs. The firm is differentiated by the long experience and deep sector knowledge. North Sky is an independent manager (100% employee controlled) with no affiliations to an investment bank, commercial bank or wealth management platform.
Sunwealth Power LLC is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and has $25 – 49 million of assets under management. Sunwealth is focused on clean energy, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, SME development, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sunwealth’s mission is to make renewable energy accessible, affordable and inclusive. Sunwealth benefits local communities by bringing energy projects to “solar deserts” including low-income communities and communities of color (houses of worship, schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, municipalities and low-income households). This is a firm that sees the fight against climate change as intersectional with the fight against systemic inequality. Sunwealth employs a rigorous underwriting process that focuses on understanding underlying value.
Triodos Investment Management (subsidiary of Triodos Bank) is headquartered in Zeist, the Netherlands and has more than $5 billion in assets under management. Triodos is focused on clean energy, sustainable food and agricutlure, health care and education. Triodos is one of the founding members of the Global Impact Investing Network and has more than 25 years of experience.
Vital Capital Fund is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. Vital focuses on affordable clean energy, infrastructure, health care and education. Vital principally operates in sub-Saharan Africa, working with businesses and projects designed to enhance quality of life.
3×5 Partners is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and has $500 – 999M worth of assets under management. 3×5’s focus is on affordable & clean energy, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, water and sanitation. 3×5 invests in innovative early-stage breakthrough companies in the healthcare (biotechnology, diagnostics, and medical devices) and climate sectors (resources and renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, water, energy, food & agriculture, and waste). The firm uses what is known as the The 3×5 Way and a dual investment strategy that recognizes the intersectionality of people’s health and planetary health.
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Elevar Equity Management Ltd is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, USA and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. Elevar focuses on industrial, innovation, infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, small/medium business development, microfinance, low-income financial services and micro-insurance. Some of its portfolio companies operate in India and across Latin America. The firm is differentiated by the Elevar Method, (e.M), and its more than 15 year strategic focus on underserved and low-income communities.
Pangaea Ventures Ltd. is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. Pangea is focused on industrial, innovation and infrastructure, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, sustainable agriculture, and global health. Pangaea Ventures invests in hard tech companies leveraging materials science, chemistry, biology, and physics to develop breakthrough solutions that address climate change, food and water security, poor health outcomes, the high costs of healthcare, antiquated infrastructure, broken supply chains, and hazardous environments. Pangaea Ventures’ 20 years of experience have made them a world leader in Advanced Materials Venture Capital. Pangea’s competitive advantage is derived from the strategic relationships it has with some of the world’s largest industrial, material, and chemical companies.
Sustainable Cities & Communities
City Light Capital is headquartered in New York, New York, USA and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. City Light are focused on sustainable cities and communities, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, nutrition, health, and wellness. City Light invests in companies that have a demonstrably positive social or environmental impact that contribute to “better lives” particularly in the areas of education, safety, care, and the environment.
Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF), is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA and has has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. CRF focuses on sustainable communities, good health, and education providing funding assistance for community housing projects, health care centers, charter schools, daycare centers, and small businesses. As a national non-profit certified community development financial institution, its mission is to empower people to improve their lives and their communities by partnering with local private lenders to provide financing capital for community development projects.
Conscious Venture Partners, LLC is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, USA and has less than $25 million of assets under management. Conscious Venture focuses on sustainable cities, communities, media, technology, diversity, equity and inclusion. Conscious Venture, leverages entrepreneurship as a tool for economic inclusion and transforming capitalism by promoting a new theory of business. Conscious Venture Partners seeks to use its impact investing expertise to transform capitalism into a force for good by investing in underrepresented communities (women, African Americans and Latinos).
Ecosystem Integrity Fund is headquartered San Francisco, California, USA and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. EIF focuses on sustainable cities and communities, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, natural resources, conservation, water and sanitation. EIF is involved with renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste reduction, green chemistry, power grid management, transportation, agriculture, water, and natural foods. EIF is differentiated by its use of a systems-based approach to sustainability investment in support of an incremental rather than disruptive approach.
Reinvestment Fund, is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and has more than $1 billion of assets under management. The fund focuses on sustainability cities & communities, quality education, good health, and decent work.
Turner Impact Capital, L.P. is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, USA and has $1 billion or more of assets under management. They are focused on sustainable cities & communities, nutrition, health, wellness, affordable housing, community development, and education. Turner Impact Capital (TIC) is a RE investment management firm and one of the nation’s largest social impact firms dedicated to RE/infrastructure solutions addressing social issues. TIC invests in supply/demand mismatches in community infrastructure, high-performing charter schools, career/technical education providers, multifamily housing and medical care for underserved communities. They are differentiated by the focus on interdependent issues like healthcare, affordable housing and education.
Responsible Consumption and Production
Arborview Capital is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA and has $100 – 499 million of assets under management. Arborview is focused on responsible consumption and production with investments in cleantech, alternative energy, and climate change. The firm is also supportive of natural resources, conservation, and sustainable agriculture. Arborview is an active player in the impact investing ecosystem, as demonstrated by its founding of Impact Capital Managers, and their role as an advisor with Wharton Social Impact Initiative. Arborview is also a mentor for local accelerators, and a speaker on impact career development panels.
WakeUp Capital is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and has less than $25 million of assets under management. WakeUp is focused on responsible consumption & production, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, nutrition, health, wellness, sustainable agriculture, and SME business development. WakeUp supports high-risk, high-reward impact companies in Europe backing visionary founders who are reinventing how we live, eat, work and learn. WakeUp scout for tech-enabled solutions to promote sustainable production and consumption, foster health equity and facilitate inclusivity and accessibility. The firm uses innovative technology to evolve current practices and combat social and environmental challenges arising due to climate change, biodiversity loss, unsustainable food system, plastic consumption, food insecurity, mass inequality, and inadequate healthcare systems. WakeUp employs a proprietary impact approach (WakeUp Score).
Alante Capital Management is headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, USA, and has less than $25 million of total assets under management. Alante invests in climate action in the form of cleantech, green chemistries, material innovations, AI, SaaS, and alternative energy. Alante also invests in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The firm connects and scales emerging technologies that improve sustainability in the apparel and textile industry. Alante takes a systems-change approach to transformative technologies with the aim of improving production practices (recovering and recycling apparel waste), as well as supporting mindful consumption.
Ambienta is headquartered in Milan, Italy and has more than $1 billion of assets under management. Ambienta is focused on climate change and the full range of SDGs including key drivers of environmental sustainability (efficiency and pollution control). Ambienta defines environmental impact beyond the narrow focus of greenhouse gas emissions or climate change, which have characterized environmental investment for a decade. At Ambienta environmental sustainability encompasses the entire spectrum of natural resources and all types of pollution affecting water, air, soil and human health. This holistic approach to a theme rather than a sector, targets investment opportunities with a positive environmental impact across almost all sectors of human activity.
Alpha Impact Investment Management (AiiM) LLC is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley, USA, and has between $50 – 99 million of assets under management. AiiM focuses on climate action (cleantech and alternative energy) ocean health, and the overlapping intersections of land, air, and energy. AiiM also supports diversity, equity, and inclusion by investing in companies led by women and people of color.
Better Ventures is headquartered in Oakland, California, USA and has $50 – 99 million of assets under management. Better Ventures is focused on climate action, cleantech, alternative energy, and global health. Better Ventures leverages breakthrough innovations in science and technology to build a more sustainable and equitable economy. By investing in software, data science, and life sciences startups that innovate in ways that serve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Better Ventures reduces emissions by re-tooling the food industry and investing in the future of food, bio-manufacturing, closed-loop production & consumption, clean energy & electric mobility, and data-driven health.
Deetken Impact is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada (with a subsidiary in Lima Peru) and has $50 – 99 million of assets under management, Deetken focuses on climate action, sustainable energy, and cleantech. The firm invests in small and mid-sized sustainable energy and energy efficiency projects in Central America and the Caribbean. Deetken is differentiated by its level of commitment and focus.
Earthshot Ventures, LLC is headquartered in San Francisco, California, USA and has less than $25 million of assets under management. Earthshot focus on climate action, cleantech, alternative energy, diversity, equity and inclusion. Earthshot’s “four investment pillars” are Energy (creating a 100% clean energy future), mobility (making oil obsolete), food & agriculture (making food systems carbon negative), industry (transforming waste into value). Earthshot is also differentiated by its Elemental Excelerator, a leading climate tech accelerator.
FullCycle Climate Partners, LP is headquartered in Los Angeles, California and has $50 – 99 million of assets under management. FullCycle focuses on climate action, cleantech, alternative energy, natural resources, conservation and sustainable agriculture. FullCycle are accelerating the implementation of systemic solutions to the climate crisis, charting the fastest path to net zero emissions by investing in sectors with the most potent emissions critical infrastructure, including energy, waste, agriculture, fashion and manufacturing. FullCycle’s acceleration ecosystem seeks to achieve greater impact with a proprietary methodology (Carbon Return on Investment or CROI-20). This is a methodology that prioritizes technologies that mitigate the largest amount of CO2 (gigaton-scale abatement).
Mirova is headquartered in Paris, France and has $500 – 999 million of assets under management. Mirova focuses on climate action, cleantech, alternative energy, natural resources, conservation, restoration, sustainable agriculture and sustainable livelihoods for local communities. Mirova creates and manages investment solutions for institutional and retail investors. The firm targets global investments at the nexus between sustainable production and biodiversity conservation (both terrestrial and marine ecosystems). Mirova’s Natural Capital Platform values economic performance alongside social and environmental impact.
Okavango Capital Partners is headquartered in Port Louis, Mauritius and has less than $25 million of assets under management. Okavango are focused on climate action, cleantech, alternative energy, natural resources, conservation, sustainable agriculture, food security, job creation and improving lives in Africa. Okavango invests in companies that have positive impact in climate mitigation and adaptation, nature conservation and rural livelihoods. It focuses on land (sustainable agriculture, forest products, forest/grassland carbon, ecotourism) and conservation (climate-tech: which includes agro-technology, water-tech, conservation-tech; and other supporting services). Okavango sees companies through a unique conservation lens and uses its conservation expertise to help achieve targeted environmental and commercial goals.
Prime Impact Fund (PTF) is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA and has $50 – 99 million of assets under management. Prime is focused on climate action, cleantech, alternative energy, water, sanitation, and sustainable agriculture. PIF invests in early stage transformative technology companies with the potential for gigaton-scale reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Prime’s primary goal is to address the critical financing gap in early-stage climate innovation. Investments in this area area address a gap in support for breakthrough technology companies that focus on new solutions that are both sustainable and scalable. Prime’s 15-year fund life prioritizes climate impact above all else.
Volery Capital Partners is headquartered in Greenwich Connecticut and has $50 – 99 million of assets under management. Volery is focused on climate action, cleantech, alternative energy, climate change, sustainable agriculture, microfinance, and micro-insurance. Volery provides financial services and value-added support that benefits people and the planet. The firm targets asset management and other financial services companies that are scaling climate solutions. Volery provides strategic business planning, institutionalization, capital formation and impact measurement and management best practices.
PE Firms Focusing on other SDGs
Good Health and Well Being
Clean Water and Sanitation
Life Below Water
Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions
Non-PE Impact Investment Firms
Here is a short summary of a few noteworthy SDG focused investment firms in asset classes other than private equity (private debt, absolute return/notes, real estate, and commodities). Ecofin Advisors, LLC makes socially conscious investments in cleantech, alternative energy and climate action. Ecotrust Forest Management, Inc. builds out natural climate solutions to combat climate change, New Forests Pty Limited focuses on natural resources and conservation and Social Investment Managers and Advisors, LLC and Sunfunder Inc., focus on affordable clean energy.
* ESG due diligence from a legal perspective often includes a review of a target’s compliance with business ethics, bribery and corruption laws, compliance with human rights legislation and international treaties, compliance in respect of occupational health and safety, supply chain and waste management laws, and inspection of environmental practices for alignment with environmental licenses, permits and legislation (Private Equity and the Rise of ESG Considerations).
** 17 SDGs: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being. Quality Education. Gender Equality. Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Reduced Inequality, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action. Life Below Water, Life on Land, Peace and Justice, Strong Institutions, and Partnerships to achieve the Goal.
Original author: Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, sustainable investor, and writer. He writes The Green Market Oracle, among the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. He is also the author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, green investing, enviro-politics, and eco-economics.