Earlier this month, affiliate titles from across PEI Group published the 2023 list of 60 women of influence in private markets. Among them are 10 whose work has a particular focus on sustainable investment, channeling capital to high impact sectors or areas:
British International Investment
As head of financial services funds at UK development finance institution and impact investor British International Investment, Dalia Aga-Shaw has developed a track record of delivering financial and impact returns through direct and fund investments spanning multiple geographies. This expertise has enabled her to play a “game-changing role in private markets”, says one of her supporters. Her recent achievements include establishing an investment vehicle that backs high-growth small and medium enterprises in West Africa, with plans to scale this model across other emerging markets. Outside of BII, Aga-Shaw co-founded 3 Sisters Ventures Collective, a gender-smart angel network.
Brookfield Asset Management
Coming second only to US President Joe Biden in affiliate title Infrastructure Investor’s reader-voted Personality of the Year award category for 2022, Natalie Adomait, a member of Brookfield Asset Management’s renewable power and transition group, enjoys a reputation as a leading light in the energy transition space. One of the youngest female managing partners at Brookfield, Adomait is also chief investment officer for the firm’s Global Transition Fund. She plays a key role in developing strategy and fundraising for the fund, which closed on $15 billion last year. Outside of the office, Adomait works with programmes mentoring women in the early stages of their careers.
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
As managing director in the EMEA infrastructure and natural resources team at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Charlotte Brunning is responsible for leading the institution’s energy transition work across a number of its utility investments. Brunning has been with the pension plan since 2015 and has more than 15 years’ experience in infrastructure investing. Her achievements over the last year include overseeing the completion of OTPP’s purchase of an increased stake in UK gas distribution company, SGN, expanding its natural gas portfolio. Advocates describe Brunning as a “great role model to others in the industry”.
Ahu Büyükkuşoğlu Serter
Arya Women Investment Platform
A serial entrepreneur and investor, Istanbul-based Ahu Büyükkuşoğlu Serter is the founder of the Arya Women Investment Platform, which supports female founders and invests in women-led businesses. Last year, she established the Arya Venture Capital Investment Fund, which the platform believes to be the first gender-lens impact investment fund in Turkey. She also serves on the boards of several companies, as well as a number of technology start-ups. Through her efforts to close the gender gap, Büyükkuşoğlu Serter is setting a “new standard for female leadership and responsible investing in Turkey and beyond”, says a peer.
British International Investment
Jo Fry, investment director and head of intermediated credit, joined British International Investment in 2019 to set up the UK development finance institution’s intermediated credit team. Today, the strategy has a portfolio that spans credit funds, risk sharing with banks, and structured debt in Africa and South Asia. Under her leadership, the team carries out investments in the climate, microfinance and generalist private credit fund sectors. Fry’s work looks to support lending in underserved markets and help mobilise capital, with the strategy committing to funds managed by firms such as Africa-focused Vantage Capital and BluePeak Private Capital since its launch.
As partner and head of energy infrastructure at Actis, Lucy Heintz manages over 50 investment professionals alongside heading up the Actis Energy 5 fund. Heintz has led on a raft of deals over the past 12 months, including the sale of Solenergi Power to Shell for $1.55 billion and the acquisition of a majority stake in Levanta Renewables, which marked Actis’s first energy investment in Vietnam. An executive committee member, Heintz also co-launched the inclusion and diversity committee at Actis and helped to establish a virtual 12-month mentorship programme for talented women working across the firm’s African portfolio companies.
As a principal at Climate Investment, previously known as OGCI Climate Investments, O’Kelly is focused on driving change in the climate tech venture space. She recently sourced, led, structured and closed the $30 million Series B funding round for Aeroseal – a patented sealing solution that can reduce building energy consumption by 30 percent – alongside other climate investors. O’Kelly also champions greater diversity within the climate tech landscape. She is a founding investor supporter at Climate Mosaic, a consortium that aims to empower underrepresented founders and investors tackling the climate crisis.
Ruth Murray joined Gresham House’s sustainable infrastructure team in early 2020 as a consultant after two decades in the legal profession, quickly rising through the ranks to take on the role of investment director earlier this year. Her promotions were “testament to her adaptability and tenacity in approach and passion for developing portfolio businesses that deliver on profit and purpose”, according to the firm. Alongside portfolio company Environment Bank, Murray led the development of a business model for a new strategy to serve the biodiversity net gain market – ‘habitat banks’ – which aims to deliver 8,000 hectares of nature restoration over the next five years.
As partner and head of African financial services at LeapFrog Investments, Karima Ola has a hand in shaping the continent’s often-overlooked private equity investment landscape. Ola’s leading role in the firm’s recent investments is a testament to her commitment to this cause: in May 2022, LeapFrog invested in payments technology provider Interswitch, and, in December, it invested in off-grid solar financier Sun King. Ola was deeply involved in all stages of due diligence for both investments, all the while leading LeapFrog’s impact steering committee. Ola also advocates for African investment on a global level, including participating in the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund last year.
Jennifer von Bismarck
Galway Sustainable Capital
As CEO of Galway Sustainable Capital, Jennifer von Bismarck is a strong advocate for investing in clean energy, agriculture and small businesses. She co-founded Galway in 2020 and since then the firm has attracted $350 million in institutional capital, completed over 27 deals and expanded to 18 staff members. Bismarck also co-leads Galway’s efforts to originate and underwrite transactions in sustainable credit, serves on the boards of portfolio companies, raises corporate capital and oversees day-to-day operations. She recently helped Galway establish a Washington, DC, office in a LEED-certified building powered by 100 percent renewable energy.