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If you’ve followed the news out of COP28, it might seem like anyone who’s anyone was in Dubai over the past two weeks. Around 100,000 world leaders, business executives, activists, journalists, and others registered to attend this year’s conference. While we all watch to see if the participating countries can overcome their many differences to reach an agreement that has a far-reaching impact on our planet, we are heartened by some of the promising developments made in the first week of the conference, including the pledge to slash methane emissions.

However, we also know that for every person attending COP28, countless others are striving to help the climate in both small and monumental ways. From climate tech entrepreneurs and impact investors to small-town mayors and environmental researchers, the population of climate champions grows every day.

We salute the everyday heroes who dedicate their lives to making an impact — not just the environmental changemakers but also those seeking solutions to other big problems and injustices. We feature several such changemakers in this month’s newsletter, but if you want to read more, we recommend checking out the Vox Future Perfect 50, the Inc. Best in Business 2023, and the Time Climate 100.

We wish you a joyful holiday season.

Expanding Access to Justice
Kristen Sonday saw how complicated it is to navigate the judicial system while working at the U.S. Justice Department, so she decided to do something about it. She and fellow lawyer Felicity Levey created a first-of-its-kind technology platform to make it easier for marginalized communities to access legal representation.

Their platform, Paladin, connects low-income people who need attorneys with free legal services. Since its founding, Paladin has connected tens of thousands of people in need with lawyers seeking pro-bono work, according to a recent profile.

Sonday’s work as a social impact entrepreneur is inspiring, but her impact doesn’t stop with Paladin. As a Latina founder, she saw firsthand how difficult it can be for underrepresented entrepreneurs to gain access to funding. So, in 2021, she co-founded LongJump VC, a first-check venture fund that aims to elevate underrepresented founders in Chicago.

In a Q&A with Nasdaq, Sonday discussed how intentional collaboration leads to lasting change. “…I’ve realized that success actually means empowering others to be successful so we can change the narrative collectively,” she said.

It’s easy to see how her example will inspire others to create impact in countless ways.
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Yes, Impact Investing & Fiduciary Duty Coexist
New research published by Pensions for Purpose argues that funds can invest for impact without sacrificing returns or fiduciary duty. The report, Impact investment performance – a UK asset owner & investment consultant perspective, features an analysis of data from listed equity, bonds, private equity, real estate, and infrastructure funds from 17 asset managers handling £18.6 billion ($23.2 billion) in impact assets. Researchers found these impact funds achieved cumulative investment performance results on par with conventional funds.
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Climate Tech Investing Surges

Venture capital investment in climate tech hit $16.6 billion in the third quarter, the best quarter for fundraising in almost two years, according to BloombergNEF. Companies focused on decarbonizing heavy industry experienced the strongest investment growth, mainly due to increased interest in greener steel.
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The Case for Women-Owned Banks

Despite progress, many women entrepreneurs still face barriers when trying to get a loan. Now, women-owned banks are entering the scene to help fill the gap. First Women’s BankAgility Bank, and Fortuna Bank are all institutions that built their missions around serving women business owners and making it easier for women to access capital.
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Entrepreneurship Is Becoming More Diverse, Say Researchers
Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, according to GoDaddy's Venture Forward research initiative. The report, which quantifies the growth and economic impact of more than 20 million online microbusinesses, found an uptick in diversity across the board. Nearly one-third (29%) of U.S. microbusiness owners surveyed identify as Black, African American, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Alaska Native, or multiracial entrepreneurs, compared to 17% in 2019.
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A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

Of the more than 2.1 million images shot by National Geographic photographers in 2023, 29 made it into the magazine’s “Picture of the Year” retrospective. The collection showcases the “wonder of our world” — unique and beautiful snapshots featuring wildlife, science, health, space, culture, travel, and adventure.
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