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Unlocking PE impact funds to ‘Next Gen’ investors

Published on: April 5 2022

Carbon Equity is trying to remove the barriers preventing young, affluent investors to access impact-driven private equity investments, a market which offers huge growth opportunities

Jacqueline van den Ende, Carbon Equity, is tackling the climate crisis “with capital as a weapon”

In brief

  • Carbon Equity has €30m under management across four different funds focused on decarbonisation
  • Carbon Equity was founded last year by Jacqueline van den Ende
  • It aims to give ‘Next Gen’, affluent investors access to diversified private equity investments with direct impact

Founded last year by entrepreneur and investor Jacqueline van den Ende, Amsterdam-based, Carbon Equity claims to be the world’s first tech platform for private market climate investments.

Van den Ende, 36, is a former partner at venture capital firm Peak Capital. While working there, and after reading ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History‘ by Elizabeth Kolbert – a book that argues we are in the middle of an accelerated, man-made extinction – she had an epiphany about what she wanted to do with her life.  

“This was the moment I thought ‘nothing else matters’”, Van den Ende tell Impact Investor. “If we do not solve climate change, what is the point in being financially successful or to have a lot of money in the bank? We need to have a planet that is liveable.”  

That’s when Van den Ende decided to dedicate herself to tackling the climate crisis “with capital as a weapon”. 

If there is one thing Van den Ende said she learnt during her private equity career, it is that money makes the world go round. “Capital is what makes decisions. The question I was asking myself was ‘how does capital move the needle?’” 

Huge opportunity

A year ago, Van den Ende founded Carbon Equity, which focuses exclusively on private markets, with a group of experienced former investors and entrepreneurs.

These include former McKinsey consultant Liza Rubinstein and Lara Koole, a former partner of Philips Ventures. Dirk Meuleman, CEO at Amsterdam-based impact investment consultant Phenix Capital Group, is a member of the company’s investment committee.   

Since its launch, Carbon Equity has grown to €30m in assets under management, spread over four different funds.  

The firm’s business model is based on the following proposition: “Providing young investors with the chance to invest with the best that private equity has to offer in well-diversified baskets, with interesting returns, and direct impact,” Van den Ende says.

“Allowing people to co-invest is a very positive way of engaging young people in the fight against climate change. The idea is to become the platform of choice for the next generation.”   

Jacqueline van den Ende, Carbon Equity

Investments on the platform start from €100,000. The company is planning to reduce the minimum investment to €10,000, once it obtains a full Alternative Investment Fund Manager (AIFM) licence from the Dutch stock market regulator, AFM.  

The market for mass affluent investors is estimated to be worth around $152 trillion, according to a report by Research & Markets.

“We saw a huge opportunity,” says Van den Ende about the market for investors with assets ranging from €100,000 to €10 million. “This is a group that has very restricted access to private equity.” 

That’s because you typically need at least €5 million to invest in a top venture capital or private equity fund, according to Van den Ende. In addition, many young investors have little knowledge about what private equity is, and lack personal connections needed to get a foot in the door with most funds.  

Unlocking $152 trillion

“Carbon Equity helps overcome these three barriers, so individual investors can take part in investing in the private market,” Van den Ende says.  

The firm’s main aim is to unlock those $152 trillion in assets through giving access to the best private equity funds to individuals, especially ‘Next Gen’ investors between 30 and 50 years of age. “We really see ourselves as a platform that facilitates access to impact investments,” Van den Ende says.

Its Decarbonization Fund I, for instance, provides diversified access to a selection of climate venture capital and growth equity funds. The fund has reached 60% of its target size of €25 million since its launch.  

The Agrifood Tech Feeder fund, which focuses on agri-food technology companies with a high impact and disruptive technology, has filled 83% of its target size of €5 million.  

And the Carbon Equity Urban Climate Tech Feeder fund, which focuses on technologies that support decarbonisation of the built environment, has been closed after it reached its target size of €3.6 million.  

Although it’s only been active for a year, the firm has set itself a big goal for the future.  “Our target is to get €10 billion of capital into impact private equity in the next 10 years,” says Van den Ende.

“And we want to involve as many people as possible in this process. Allowing people to co-invest is a very positive way of engaging young people in the fight against climate change. The idea is to become the platform of choice for the next generation.”