Introducing India Climate Leader X

X (name withheld for privacy) is a sustainability investor in India with a strong scientific background, and a history of giving to sectors like education and health. X has directed INR 182 crores (USD 21 million) towards climate action till date.

Why did the ICC start working with X?

With a sizeable amount in the pipeline and a bold theory of change for mitigating India’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the ICC started working with X in 2022 to:

Help expand their climate portfolio

Supplement their climate lens to help them invest in unexplored levers

Support them in accessing global climate platforms and an expansive climate network

I want my investments to mirror India’s GHG emissions map

– X

X’s flexible investment philosophy reflects the urgency of the climate crisis. While generally sector-agnostic, they wish for their investments pie to mirror India’s emissions map, by focusing on technology and innovation. This is crucial for India’s climate ecosystem. Adaptation has traditionally attracted more domestic philanthropic attention over mitigation, due to its deep ties to development, despite there being an urgent need to avoid future emissions as well as channel risk-free capital towards early-stage innovations and take them to market.

Instead of focusing on returns, X has adopted an experimental problem-solving approach, with a desire to:

Identify and scale global solutions: X looks for emerging startups that offer the potential to reduce GHG emissions and need growth capital to scale in India and across the globe. They have successfully funded innovations across energy efficiency and biofuels, among others.

Use different financing instruments to support promising climate solutions: X’s strategies are guided by a long-term theory of change – to focus on climate needs and provide fit-for-purpose financing. They embrace high-risk opportunities with potentially negligible returns, whether grantmaking in the non-profit sector or high-risk equity investments in commercial enterprises. X is also willing to support capital expenditure that traditional venture capitalists hesitate to, like manufacturing units for sustainable enterprises.

Pre-emptively address bottlenecks: X is keen to pre-empt challenges that technological innovations may face when they hit critical bottlenecks and explore the use of philanthropic capital for such tipping points.

Impact: How has the ICC supported X?

Working in partnership, the ICC has helped diversify X’s climate journey – through research advisory on impactful solutions, networking opportunities, and access to industry experts and other global climate philanthropists.

This has affected:

Levers of impact: X came to us in 2022 seeking levers of impact beyond technology, and has since given substantial grants to policy, research, and communications organisations.

Different types of capital: X also recently provided debt to a climate-related fund to test new business models, help scale environmentally responsible projects and startups, and unlock other forms of capital.

This flexibility with levers and capital aligns with their impact-first lens, to explore how different financing instruments can be leveraged, and how to apply relevant capital all while breaking the silos of philanthropic and returnable capital.

Climate tech start-ups typically struggle to build cost-effective supply chains, apart from accessing finance. I want to change that.

– X

With the ICC’s technical inputs, X organised an expo for global climate tech start-ups and industry stakeholders to form collaborative partnerships. This is designed to help start-ups scale up – by building cost-effective supply chains, accessing India’s manufacturing capabilities, and cultivating a broader customer base.

Beyond levers and capital, the ICC has also helped deepen X’s climate leadership by supporting:

Network: X has been able to expand beyond their existing network, building relationships with other domestic philanthropists, global climate funders and investors, and climate experts.

Voice: X took their emerging voice and learnings to global platforms, including the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum at the UNFCCC’s COP28 in Dubai, UAE in December 2023.

Published on: 1st April 2024

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