EIF Raises $250 Million for Microgrids, Coolers

Venture capital firm Ecosystem Integrity Fund raised $250 million that will go to sustainable startups, including two in Africa.

The San Francisco-based clean-tech investment company closed its fourth fund with backing from the TVA Asset Retirement Trust, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Franz Haniel & Cie, a family-owned holding company in Germany, according to a statement Tuesday.

The funding will go to about 20 early-stage green technology startups in industries ranging from hydrogen-powered aircraft to electric motorbikes and subscription scooters. They include Vericool Inc., a California-based maker of sustainable coolers, Rwanda’s Ampersand, Africa’s first electric motorbike producer, and Ghana’s Energicity, a builder of solar microgrids serving rural areas that aren’t electrified.

Investor interest in such firms is rising amid mounting evidence of climate change, from atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reaching unprecedented levels in May to last month’s record for the hottest June measured in the contiguous U.S. Global spending on technologies to transition from fossil fuels reached a record $501.3 billion last year, according to BloombergNEF data.

Sustainable investing opportunities are “becoming much better understood,” said Sasha Brown, a partner at EIF. She said attitudes have changed since the days when “people thought what we did was counter to fundamental economics, that we were tree huggers who were going against capitalism.”

Closer to home in California, the fund also backed Oakland-based Unagi, which is developing a subscription-based network of electric scooters, and ZeroAvia Inc., a startup in Hollister making hydrogen-powered airplanes that’s also attracted investment by Bill Gates and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.

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