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The world’s problems can sometimes seem insurmountable when you focus on them as a whole. Luckily, our world is full of creative, fearless individuals who see the opportunity to make an impact on those problems through their work and the way they invest their capital.

We were reminded of this fact while reading Morningstar’s article about the investors who increasingly view climate change as both a risk and an opportunity. Rather than focus solely on mitigating the risks, a growing number of investors see opportunities to capitalize on the transition to a low-carbon economy. The proof is in the numbers: there were a record 1,206 mutual funds and exchange-traded funds globally with a climate-related mandate at the end of 2022, up from about 950 at the end of 2021.

Climate change isn’t the only area where investors are seeking to make a difference. While there is still much progress to be made, we see more firms directing capital to underrepresented founders, as well as increased investor interest in women’s health.

As Jean Case stated in a recent podcast interview, “Capital does play a huge difference in the world every single day in terms of what our society looks like.” This month we highlight several changemakers who embrace that philosophy to make their stamp on the world.

An Unlikely Climate Change Entrepreneur
Leaving a successful career in consumer technology to tackle the climate crisis takes a leap of faith. That’s what makes Mary Yap’s story so inspiring. After losing two close friends in separate accidents, Yap decided that she wanted to focus the rest of her life on climate change. She went back to school to study earth and planetary sciences at Yale, which led to her next big move.

In 2022, Yap teamed up with two scientists to launch Lithos Carbon, a company that spreads crushed rocks from quarries onto farmland, where it helps capture carbon and improve crop yields. As she described in a recent interview with Geenbiz, she left behind the familiar world of software to embark on a venture where there is no playbook for success.

In one way, launching Lithos helped Yap return to her roots — she is the descendant of Taiwanese farmers. But it has also meant learning about the world of trucking, visiting quarries, and talking with farmers. Her story reminds us of the importance of reaching beyond your bubble to make a difference in the world.
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VCs Team Up for the Climate
A group of 23 venture capital firms, which collectively represent $62.3 billion in assets, have joined together to form the Venture Climate Alliance. Hoping to inspire early-stage investors to stop greenhouse-gas pollution, members of the alliance aim to achieve net zero emissions for their operations by 2030 or sooner and will encourage their portfolio companies to set their own targets. This could be an exciting initiative to watch.
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World-Changing Impact Investing

The companies honored by Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards inspire us with their clever and unexpected solutions to some of the world’s most complicated issues. This year’s list includes many organizations that are investing with purpose, like the Climate Innovation and Development Fund, which is backing proof-of-concept clean energy projects in developing and emerging economies.
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$100 Million Fund for Diverse Founders

Insurance company MassMutual has nearly finished deploying the $50 million fund it established two years ago to invest in Black-led startups and others from rural communities and historically overlooked backgrounds. So now it is launching a new $100 million fund to continue the mission. So far, the MM Catalyst fund has invested in 16 Massachusetts-based businesses representing sectors ranging from fintech and clean energy to homecare and feminine care.
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Diverse Startups Meet Big Business
Diverse-led startups have a lot to offer established companies — such as creativity and fresh viewpoints that can spark innovation. That’s the idea behind VentureFuel, an innovation consultancy that facilitates collaboration between startups and corporate clients. TriplePundit explains how the model helps to tackle two problems at once: stifled innovation within larger companies and abysmally low levels of diversity in startup funding.
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Celebrating AAPI Founders & Changemakers

In May we celebrate the important role that Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders have played in our history and culture. We’re inspired by the 30 women Brit + Co featured in their list of favorite AAPI founders who are bringing their fresh ideas into the world. For more stories about Asian Pacific American women who have changed the world of science, film, and more, check out the Smithsonian’s story collection, part of their Women’s History Initiative.
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