A number of new impact investing products are in the Australian marketplace raising funds to tackle different social and environmental challenges.
The Organic Future Fund is seeking to raise $30 million into two funds created to boost capacity and grow the organics industry in Australia, as well as address the current shortage of certified organic products across many sectors. The Organic Land Trust will acquire and hold farm land producing organic goods for selling into local and export markets. The Organic Growth Trust will target investment capital into downstream businesses trading in predominantly organic goods.
Meanwhile in an international development context, the Fred Hollows Foundation is leading a consortium of financial and eye health experts to pioneer the world’s first development impact bond in health care. The Cameroon Cataract Performance Bond will fund cataract interventions in Cameroon through the establishment of a social enterprise hospital that delivers cataract surgery. Currently in the process of raising US$2.5 million from impact investors, the Bond aims to prevent 18,000 cataract blindness cases over 5 years, particularly targeting people on low incomes. There are plans to roll out the same concept across other African countries to fund the prevention of avoidable blindness, save lives and capture economic benefits for people impacted.
Back in Australia, Lighthouse Infrastructure has recently opened the Lighthouse Solar Fund, offering wholesale investors participation in the fast growing segment of the renewable energy market. The Fund is initially seeking to raise $50 million which will be invested across all segments of the Australian solar market including utility, commercial/industrial and residential. In addition to significant carbon abatements, the Fund expects to facilitate expansion of the solar market in Australia by creating employment, and produce social benefits such as displacing diesel within remote Indigenous communities.
In what was touted as the first impact investment for conservation in Australia, the Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund raised $27 million in 2015 to provide water security for Australian farming families while protecting culturally significant wetlands that support threatened species. Launched by The Nature Conservancy Australia and Kilter Rural, the Fund has achieved its operating profit nine months ahead of forecast and 950 megalitres of water has already been returned to the environment, directly inundating 60 hectares of wetlands. With all initial funds now deployed, the Fund will soon open a second offer to impact investors, aiming to take the total Fund capital to $100 million.