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The Blockchain Goes to War in Ukraine
How tech can make a bigger impact than governments and banks
Hello Impact Nation, and welcome to the 1,289 new Subscribers who have joined us since last week.
Within that week, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion into Ukraine.
For us, it’s more than just news.
In our daily business, we work with developers from both countries – teammates, colleagues, and friends.
Our project manager, a young Ukrainian woman, will not leave the country, because her paramedic experience may be useful in the fight. War is never just about the soldiers.
We are checking updates 24/7 with not much sleep.
And the Russians?
There is a brotherhood/sisterhood in tech that you rarely find anywhere else. We never met a team member who was nationalist, racist, or supporting war. We are glad and proud to do what we do.
This Week We Are Diving Into:
1. The Blockchain Goes To War in Ukraine
2. Good Gossip
3. News & Opportunities
4. Meet the Speaker: Russ Shaw CBE
Let’s do it!
The Impact Lady
Special guest (writer), Dr. Stefano L. Tresca.
This is *not* a political newsletter, so we are not going to talk about politics. We write about tech and tech people making an impact.
On the other hand, making an impact in war has political consequences.
We’ll leave any opinion to you – our readers – and focus on the facts, impartially, as much as humanly possible. This is the way!
The Blockchain Goes to War in Ukraine
While world governments were discussing the imposition of sanctions on Russia (but maybe not on luxury goods) …
While European banks and leaders were talking about excluding Russia from the SWIFT banking system (but major gas purchases are probably not going through home baking) …
Blockchain was already a main player in the war zone.
You may think that crypto is the best invention since sliced bread, a Ponzi scheme, or anything in between. The Russian-Ukraine war proves that Bitcoin & co. are here to stay.
This is the first war in human history where a nation-state under military invasion is posting crypto addresses to raise funds over Twitter (Yes, this is the official Twitter account of Ukraine.)
And it’s not just a matter of paying expenses or fundraising, new technologies and platforms were online less than 24 hours from the start of the invasion.
Startup founders from Allbridge, Gitcoin, NearProtocol, Venture Dao, Weld Money, and others joined forces to launch - in a matter of hours - Unchain Fund, a charity project to raise and quickly distribute money for humanitarian needs.
$1.5 million has already been raised while we are writing this post, about 4 days from the beginning of the conflict.
This platform is becoming increasingly popular among the tech community. Julien Bouteloup, a popular Web3 entrepreneur and crypto trader, is just one example.
Why this is not possible without Blockchain
Just a few years ago, a similar project would have been impossible without a third-party platform such as Gofundme or Patreon – with the risk of having the donations frozen.
Historically, third-party platforms are extremely vulnerable to government pressures.
If they have a customer base in Russia (or in China, the US, or any other country), they need government approval to keep operating.
This is not true for (real) cryptos, since Blockchain is by nature immune to centralized pressures.
Not all the projects launched during these days are good. There will be scams and frauds. And yet, the technology has proven itself to be unstoppable.
The argument against Blockchain
Someone may think that this is an argument against the Blockchain, not for it.
This is *not* a political article, and we would respect this idea as well.
We just want to point out a fact:
Tech innovation has never been stopped by politicians. This is true for good tech as well as evil (if you believe that Blockchain is bad for humanity).
In the 16th-century epic poem Crazy Orlando, the knights despise gun powder and humiliate a Muslim rifleman. About a century later, they were wiped out from European battlefields by humble farmers with a rifle.
The public sector is slow, but can we trust the private?
Blockchain is not the only technology that made the headlines in the war. Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister challenged Elon Musk. The billionaire replied by giving access to his satellite internet service, Starlink.
We leave the political evaluation to each reader.
The social evaluation is a different matter. We believe in impact investing, and we built Impact in Tech exactly for this challenge.
Philanthropy is great, but it requires huge resources and it can’t be sustained without limits.
On the contrary, impact investing means doing good AND making a profit. It’s open to every investor and every entrepreneur.
While big government and big philanthropy do their job, we can all be part of something bigger within impact investing in tech.
Congrats to …
Therése Lennehag ↪ has been appointed head of the European ESG advisory team at UBS.
Bo Foged ↪ joins as a partner Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), the renewable energy and infrastructure fund.
Nick Faull ↪ has been appointed Head of Climate and Sustainability Risk at Marsh, one of the world’s leading insurance brokers and risk advisors.
Yasmin Raza↪ has been promoted to Manager ESG Market Intelligence and Engagement at the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.
Simon Sotomey ↪ has been appointed Chief Financial Officer at Social and Sustainable Capital (SACS), the social impact fund.
Heidi DuBois ↪ has been appointed Global Head of ESG at AEA, the global private investment firm.
Dr. Luiz Fernando do Amaral ↪ is the first CEO at The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), one of the key organizations focused on aligning corporate environmental sustainability action with the global goals of limiting climate change.
Project Canary ↪, a climate tech startup, raised $111M in a Series B round to scale Emissions Measurement Solutions. Lead investor VC Insight Partners, with participation from Brookfield Growth, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment board, and Carica Sustainable Investment, as well as previous investors Quantum Energy Partners, Energy Impact Partners, and Frontier Venture Capital.
Infinity Recycling ↪ new fund raised €40M to create a circular economy for plastics. It will invest in companies offering advanced recycling technologies. Dutch investment agency Invest-NL is a cornerstone investor.
Protix ↪ raised €50M in funding to expand internationally its insect-based food production. The European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF), BNP Paribas, the Prince Albert II Foundation, and The Good Investors joined existing shareholders Aqua-Spark, Rabo Investments, and Invest-NL.
Canza Finance ↪ raised $3.27M in seed funding to build their new financial system in emerging markets, based on crypto and DeFi technology. Lead Investor Fenbushi Capital, with participation from Dominance Ventures, Bixin Ventures, Consensys, Protocol Labs, Emergo Ventures, MEXC Global, NGC Ventures, XanPool, Hashkey, and others.
News & Opportunities
The Public Finance Initiative (PFI) and the National League of Cities (NLC) launched the Bond Markets and Racial Equity Project ↪ to help municipalities issue bonds. The project will also signal racial equity and income equality to investors and stakeholders. The launch is funded by a $4M grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that ESG goals will impact executive compensation ↪ Performance towards achieving the goals can positively or negatively impact the 2022 annual incentive bonus by up to 15%.
The Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change is hiring for 8 roles ↪ They are currently recruiting applicants for Policy Programme Director, Senior Policy Programme Manager, Policy Programme Manager, Investor Practices Programme Director, Real Estate Senior Manager, Head of Engagement Initiatives, Senior Specialist (Net Zero Stewardship), Digital Communications Manager, Membership Manager and Legal and Compliance Advisor. Apply here→
Visa will invest up to $100 Million to support minority-led banks ↪ The program Visa Minority Depository Institutions Accelerate aims at reducing economic disparities and expanding access and opportunity in communities of color across the US. The new initiative follows the appointment by Visa last year of Michelle Gethers-Clark as Chief Diversity Officer & Head of Corporate Responsibility.
Mizuho issues a $500M green bond to fund sustainable finance goals ↪ The Tokyo-based banking and financial services company Mizuho Financial Group has set a target environmental finance of 12 trillion yen (USD$105 billion) from FY2019 to FY2030, aiming “to accelerate our environmental business and expand our positive impacts on the environment through finance.”
Amgen launches a $750M green bond to fund environmental impact mitigation projects ↪ The bond has a 3.000% semi-annual coupon and matures in 2029. The issuance follows the launch last year by Amgen of a seven-year environmental sustainability plan with goals including reaching carbon neutrality, reducing water use and waste disposal, along with plans for investments in innovative technologies to significantly reduce carbon emissions and on sourcing renewable energy.
TPG-backed companies merge to form major carbon and environmental credit provider ↪ Carbon credit developer Bluesource and renewable natural gas marketing and environmental commodities company Element Markets announced that they are merging to form the largest marketer and originator of carbon and environmental credits in North America. The combined company will be majority-owned by global alternative asset firm TPG Rise Climate. TPG announced in July that it had raised $5.4 billion at its first close, with a $7 billion hard cap.
UNICEF’s grant $100k in cryptocurrency for Blockchain social impact solutions ↪ The UNICEF Venture Fund is looking to make up to $100K equity-free cryptocurrency investments to provide early-stage seed financing and mentoring to for-profit technology startups that have the potential to benefit humanity. Apply here →
The Principles for Responsible Investment is hiring a Senior Specialist ↪ to work on stewardship on human rights and social issues.
🎙 PEOPLE IN IMPACT
Meet: Russ Shaw CBE
Russ Shaw CBE is the founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, a network of more than 20,000 tech leaders, entrepreneurs, and experts in over 50 countries worldwide.
He is one of the world’s leading experts on the success of London’s tech ecosystem and has been invited to tech hubs around the world to share his experience.
Russ is an angel and venture investor and has been a non-executive director of a number of high-growth businesses, including Dialog Semiconductor and Unwire.
Trivia: If you are wondering what’s "CBE" means, is Commander of the order of the British Empire – one of the highest honours in the UK. Russ shares this award with other mighty people such as physicist Stephen Hawking, Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, and actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Russ will be a speaker at Expanse, the Global Summit for Impact Investing in Tech. Join him today!
🚀 COMING SOON
SDG & Emerging Technologies for Impact Investing - With Katherine Foster, Open Earth Foundation
Video interview available from Thursday - Stay tuned
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