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Spark+ Africa Fund Raises Over $40 Million to Invest in Clean And…

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“CCA is thrilled to have supported the development of Spark+. We see this launch as a much-needed step toward developing a sustainable and inclusive clean cooking sector.” – Dymphna van der Lans, Chief Executive Officer of CCA

Today, the Spark+ Africa Fund (“Spark+”) launched in partnership with 12 development finance institutions, foundations, family offices, and pension funds as the world’s first impact fund financing clean and modern cooking solutions in developing markets.

900 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack clean and modern cooking solutions. Without the electric stoves and piped natural gas prevalent in developed countries, they are forced to spend an estimated $35 billion annually on unhealthy and polluting open fires, charcoal, and kerosene. According to a World Bank report released in 2020, this generates annual social, environmental, and economic costs of more than $330 billion in Africa, while the investment required by the private sector to deliver access to modern alternatives would be only $2.6 billion per year.

To bridge this investment gap, Spark+ will finance pioneering companies that offer life-improving biomass, biogas, ethanol, electric, and LPG-based cooking technologies to low-income consumers. These solutions not only keep families safe and healthy and save them time and money but also have a range of societal benefits including greater gender equality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation, and industrial and economic development. Clean cooking is considered to directly impact at least 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Spark+ is the first impact investment fund being launched by Spark+ General Partner (“GP”), a joint venture between its Switzerland-based investment advisor Enabling Qapital (“EQ”), and Netherlands-based foundation Stichting Modern Cooking (“SMC”). US-based Clean Cooking Alliance (“CCA”), an initiative of the United Nations Foundation, and its donors including the Norwegian Agency for International Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, supported the development of Spark+. Support was also provided by the International Climate Finance Accelerator, sponsored by the Luxembourg government. The fund has a target size of $70 million.

Development Finance Institutions investing in the first close include African Development Bank’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), Denmark’s Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO). Foundations and family offices include Ceniarth, Osprey Foundation, Fundacion Netri, and the Ashden Trust. Four major pension funds in Switzerland participated in the first close, including the pension fund of leading insurance company Baloise Group, and GastroSocial, the pension fund of the Swiss hospitality industry. The Fund’s portfolio companies will benefit from multiple sources of complementary Technical Assistance (“TA”) via CCA and SMC, including a TA allocation from BIO.

Xavier Pierluca, Co-Investment Director of Spark+ and Managing Partner of EQ: “It was a profound realization that the cooking methods used by nearly half the global population have remained fundamentally unchanged for thousands of years, and that so many around the world have not benefitted from the introduction of modern cooking methods. Fortunately, visionary entrepreneurs and new business models and technologies are poised to allow Africa to leapfrog the more centralized technologies of the 20th century in favor of innovative distributed energy solutions, and we are pleased to have collaborated with our partners to launch Spark+. EQ is thrilled to leverage its best-in-class investment management capabilities to accelerate growth in this important space.”

Peter George, Co-Investment Director of Spark+ and Chairman of SMC: “During my leadership of CCA’s private sector program, our team invested heavily in support for Spark+ pipeline companies and in the development of the fund itself, so it is gratifying to deliver a tangible return on that investment with the launch of Spark+. We hope to play a catalytic role in addressing this under-represented component of energy access in Africa and throughout the developing world, and are grateful to our colleagues, investors, donors, prospective portfolio companies, and many others for their steadfast commitment to this initiative. Spark+ exemplifies the power of blending public and private capital to tackle the SDGs in a complex and traditionally underinvested space.”

Dymphna van der Lans, Chief Executive Officer of CCA: “CCA is thrilled to have supported the development of Spark+. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration as the fund begins to deploy capital to many of the companies that have received support from CCA over the last 10 years and are grateful to those who have played a role in launching this innovative fund. We see this launch as a much-needed step toward developing a sustainable and inclusive clean cooking sector.”

Dr. Daniel-Alexander Schroth, Acting Director for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency at AfDB: “The African Development Bank is committed to building a sustainable and more climate-resilient future by catalysing private investment in low-carbon solutions. We are pleased that with an anchor investment from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), Spark+ Africa Fund has reached its first close, a win for public health, gender equality, the environment, and climate. We look forward to working with our partners on this innovative fund.”

Reik Haahr Muller, Vice President at IFU: “Spark+ is targeting one of the most serious challenges facing rural populations’ health and climate change in Africa. Replacing the use of open fires, charcoal and kerosene with more clean alternatives like processed biomass, biogas and electric will have a profound impact on lowering respiratory health risks and reducing deforestation and GHG emissions. The fund’s blended financing structure is the right approach to speed up the green transition in this sector.”

Camille Fronville, Infrastructure Manager at BIO: “The companies targeted by Spark+ are offering solutions to a complex and multidimensional problem which is mainly affecting women. First and foremost, we must put them at the center of this transition to make sure the cooking solutions of Africa’s future align with their desires and needs, and truly improve their lives.”

About Enabling Qapital (EQ): EQ is an investment advisory company with strong ties in the impact investment sector and deep expertise in finance, with its founding partners unique skillsets and 100+ year proven track record. EQ is the exclusive advisor to the Enabling Microfinance Fund and has a global footprint of investment professionals across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America who originate, execute, and monitor investments. EQ is the exclusive advisor to Spark+ and a shareholder in the GP.

About Stichting Modern Cooking (SMC): SMC is a Netherlands-based foundation constituted with financial support from CCA and governed by a management board consisting of cooking sector experts and impact investment professionals. SMC is a shareholder in the GP and a TA partner.

About the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA): CCA works with a global network of partners to build an inclusive industry that can make clean cooking accessible to all. Established in 2010, CCA is driving consumer demand, mobilizing investment, and supporting policies that allow the clean cooking sector to thrive. CCA supported the fund’s development and is a TA partner.

About the African Development Bank Group (AfDB Group): AfDB Group is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states. The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) is a Multi-Donor Special Fund that aims to unlock private sector investments that contribute to providing universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services for all in Africa, in line with the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa strategy and SDG 7. http://www.afdb.org.

About the Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU): IFU is a Danish impact investor contributing to green, just and inclusive societies as well as supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. We provide risk capital to companies operating in developing countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and parts of Europe. Investments are made on commercial terms in the form of equity, loans and guarantees. IFU has co-invested in over 1,300 companies in more than 100 developing countries and emerging markets. Contracted investments total EUR 31 billion, of which IFU has contributed EUR 3.4 billion. Capital under management is EUR 1.7 billion. http://www.ifu.dk.

About the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO): BIO has a mission to support a strong private sector in developing and emerging countries, and to enable those living in them to gain access to growth and sustainable development within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. BIO invests directly and indirectly in private sector projects and does so by using a series of financial instruments, either in Euros, US dollars, or in local currency. It provides equity and quasi-equity, long-term loans, feasibility studies, and technical assistance. BIO has more than EUR 1 billion of capital under management. http://www.bio-invest.be.

For more information, contact:

Xavier Pierluca: xavier.pierluca@enabling.ch

Peter George: peter.george@enabling.ch

http://www.sparkafricafund.com | http://www.enabling.ch

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The ASA and the NCCAOM Make Bipartisan Progress on HR 4803:…

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“We are so grateful to Congressman Fitzpatrick for his support of this crucial legislation. . . to improve the health and quality of life of individuals and their families. . .”, Olivia Hsu Friedman, DACM, L.Ac., ASA Chair and Mina Larson, M.S., MBA, CAE, NCCAOM CEO.

H.R. 4803 would authorize the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to recognize qualified acupuncturists as healthcare providers. Medicare recognition would enable qualified acupuncturists to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries–over 60-million Americans.

“We are so grateful to Congressman Fitzpatrick for his support of this crucial legislation that would enable qualified acupuncturists to improve the health and quality of life of individuals and their families. We also commend Molly Giammarco, Government Relations Director, and Federal Lobbyist for making this connection possible and ensuring that HR 4803 is supported by both Republicans and Democrat Members of Congress,” stated Olivia Hsu Friedman, DACM, L.Ac., ASA Chair and Mina Larson, M.S., MBA, CAE, NCCAOM CEO.

Through the hard work of our advocacy team and Pennsylvania resident and Acupuncturist Brenda Schaufele, L.Ac., L.OM, Diplomate NCCAOM, we were able to obtain support from Congressman Fitzpatrick’s Office earlier today.

Acupuncture currently cannot provide services to Medicare beneficiaries without supervision, even though their training and scope of practice enable them to practice independently. This disrupts the acupuncture service-delivery model, as they cannot receive direct reimbursement for the services they provide to Medicare beneficiaries, who in turn, cannot readily access their services.

Research demonstrates that acupuncture is effective in providing high-quality, personalized care that helps individuals manage pain–without opioids and invasive procedures–and embrace preventive and wellness care options.

The ASA and the NCCAOM look forward to engaging more members of Congress and the profession in this effort.

Media Contact: Olga Cox – 202-381-1116

About the ASA

The Mission of the https://www.asacu.org/American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) is to promote the highest standards of professional practice for acupuncture and EAM in the United States, to benefit public health. Through strengthening the profession at the state level while promoting collaboration nationally and internationally, the ASA provides its members, the public, legislators, and regulators resources for ensuring the best expression of this ancient and modern medicine.

About the NCCAOM

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)(R) is a non-profit 501(C)(6) organization established in 1982. The NCCAOM is the only national organization that validates entry-level competency in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine through professional certification. The NCCAOM certification or a passing score on the NCCAOM certification examinations are documentation of competency for licensure as an acupuncturist by 45 states and the District of Columbia, which represents 98 percent of the states that regulate acupuncture. The National Commission for Certification Agencies accredits all NCCAOM-certification programs. To learn more about the NCCAOM, or about acupuncture and national-board certification, visit http://www.nccaom.org.To find an NCCAOM board-certified practitioner in your area, click on Find a Practitioner at http://www.nccaom.org.

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FEI’s Financial Leadership Summit Tackles Geopolitical and Pandemic…

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“We are excited to bring back one of our most valuable benefits through this year’s Financial Leadership Summit — the power of live networking,” said Andrej Suskavcevic, CAE, Pres. & CEO of FEI and FERF.

Financial Executives International (FEI), the association of choice for finance leaders, today announced the agenda for its upcoming 2022 Financial Leadership Summit. The event will be held at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown in Cleveland, Ohio on May 15 – 17. Conference attendees are eligible to receive up to 12 CPE credits to meet NASBA Standards requirements. For conference details or to register, visit http://www.financialexecutives.org/summit.

The Summit is centered around best practices for conducting the finance function. FEI will host top financial thought leaders who will drive conversations around critical issues and trends affecting those functions today. Session topics include from Future-Proofing Your Work Force to Mastering Disruption, Fueling Greater Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Accounting, and Threats and Trends in Cybersecurity. Within these conversation frameworks, attendees will learn how to better operate in their given roles while remaining focused on key initiatives such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), social governance, and fundamental financial responsibilities.

“The past few years has been difficult for organizations and professionals with the shift to a work-from-home culture. We are excited to bring back one of our most valuable benefits through this year’s Financial Leadership Summit — the power of live networking. We are honored to foster a rich environment where the financial leaders of today and tomorrow can connect directly,” said Andrej Suskavcevic, CAE, President and CEO of FEI and FERF.

Financial Leadership Summit Agenda

As a membership-driven organization, FEI hosts a roster of speakers and presentation topics that are important to members. Networking sessions will also occur each day of the conference, enabling attendees to interact one-on-one with peers and speakers.

Featured sessions include:

Keynote speaker Mark Schulman, drummer for legendry musicians including P!nk, Foreigner, and Beyonce, will take attendees on a musical, passionate and revelatory journey through his experience and provide insight on how to evolve understanding and implementation of peak performance and how to amass the tools to change relationships and improve business.
Future-Proofing Your Workforce
Lead the Change: Fueling Greater Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Accounting
Mastering Disruption: Achieving Higher Efficiency Through Change
The Value and the Path to Meaningful ESG Reporting
Threats and Trends in Cybersecurity

For a complete conference agenda, visit http://www.financialexecutives.org/summit.

Anniversary Celebration and Concert

Harnessing the power of connection, the conference’s numerous networking opportunities will include leadership workshops and luncheons as well as live entertainment events. Cleveland’s School of Rock will welcome attendees to the special opening ceremony celebrating FEI’s 90th Anniversary at the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This event will feature a private concert by the legendary Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes.

Special Thanks

FEI is grateful to all conference sponsors that make this event possible – Diamond Sponsor, Microsoft; Platinum Sponsors, Allianz; Board; Brown & Brown; Crowe; Deloitte; EY; HighRadius; KPMG; Ledgent; OneStream; Prevedere; Prophix; PSyn; Robert Half | Protiviti; Sage Intact; ScottMadden; Siegfried; UiPath; Workday; and Workiva; Gold Sponsor, Insperity; and Silver Sponsor, Becker

FEI extends a special thank you to all those who contributed to the 90th Anniversary Opening Reception concert at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Main Stage Sponsor, Plante Moran; and Reception Sponsors BMO; EY; FEI Northeast Ohio; The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA); Oswald Companies; and RSM.

About FEI

Financial Executives International (FEI) is the leading advocate for the views of corporate financial management. Its members hold policy-making positions as chief financial officers, chief accounting officers, treasurers, and controllers at companies from every major industry. FEI enhances member professional development through peer networking, career management services, conferences, research, and publications. Members participate in the activities of more than 65 Chapters in the U.S. FEI is located in Morristown, NJ. Visit http://www.financialexecutives.org for more information.

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FGA Files Lawsuit Against Biden Administration Demanding Answers On…

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“With the mid-term elections mere months away, the American people have a right to know the full details of this unprecedented effort by the president before it is too late. FGA will not rest until we get the American people the answers they deserve,” said Stewart Whitson Legal Director at FGA.

Today, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) after several federal executive agencies failed to respond to FGA’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain documents pertaining to President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) 14019, titled “Promoting Access to Voting.”

The EO requires the head of every federal executive agency to provide a strategic plan to the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor detailing how the agency will help increase voter registration and voter participation.

FGA originally requested these documents on July 30, 2021. Now, 240 days later, not a single document has been provided as required under the FOIA law. Today, FGA is suing DOJ in Case 2:22-cv-00252 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division, asking a federal court to step in and compel the agency to comply with the law. FGA is not yet filing lawsuits against other federal agencies who have also failed to respond to FGA’s FOIA request(s) in the hope that a federal ruling against DOJ will encourage other agencies to provide the requested documents.

In January, at least 36 members of Congress formally requested some of the same documents FGA requested in a letter addressed to Biden administration officials. Nine congressional leaders co-signed another letter raising concerns about the lack of constitutional and statutory authority of EO 14019 and again requesting documents pertaining to the enforcement EO 14019.

“FOIA requests are meant to provide Americans with transparency and reassurance that governing agencies using taxpayer dollars are acting thoughtfully, lawfully, and in the best interest of the American people,” said Stewart Whitson, Legal Director at FGA. “DOJ’s decision to stonewall our lawful request under FOIA raises grave concerns that the Biden administration may be hiding the full details of these plans from the public and Congress. With the mid-term elections mere months away, the American people have a right to know the full details of this unprecedented effort by the president before it is too late. FGA will not rest until we get the American people the answers they deserve. If we cannot get those answers through FOIA requests, we will use the power of the courts instead.”

To date, the Biden administration has refused to provide these requested documents to Congress as well.

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The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a non-profit, multi-state think tank that promotes public policy solutions to create opportunities for every American to experience the American Dream. To learn more, visit TheFGA.org.

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