NEW YORK—The Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), the impact investment arm of the Open Society Foundations, is committing $15 million to a new Brazil-based investment fund dedicated to financing sustainable businesses in Brazil’s Amazon region that create jobs and preserve standing forests.
The Amazon Biodiversity Fund (ABF) will pursue venture and early-stage growth investments in enterprises and projects exclusively operating in the Brazilian Amazon. These investments aim to reduce deforestation, create socioeconomic and well-being outcomes for local communities, and conserve biodiversity. ABF seeks to reach more than 700,000 smallholder farmers and their families in the Amazon region, and encourages the sustainable production of coffee, cocoa, and other indigenous local crops while preserving the forest or reforesting degraded areas.
The fund is expected to reach up to $60 million, making it the largest private impact fund dedicated to the region. ABF is advised by Impact Earth, whose impressive track record in nature-based investments made them a natural candidate for this effort.
Georgia Levenson Keohane, chief executive officer of SEDF, said: “We are delighted to participate in this innovative fund, managed by a team with deep local expertise and a strong record of success. We believe ABF will demonstrate to the larger investment community that it is possible to operate successful commercial businesses that protect the Amazon’s standing forests and improve local livelihoods. This is particularly urgent, given the Amazon’s critical role as a natural and substantial carbon sink, in the fight against global climate change.”
Heloisa Griggs, executive director of Open Society’s Latin America and Caribbean region, said: “SEDF’s investment is an important step toward building a standing forest economy that generates jobs for people living in the Amazon region and protects the rainforest.”
SEDF’s co-investors include the Brazilian Development Bank, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, L’Oreal Fund for Nature Regeneration, and ASN Bank. ABF is backed by a $100 million guarantee from the United States Development Finance Corporation, the U.S. government’s international development agency.
The Soros Economic Development Fund, launched in 1997, currently manages more than 35 investments around the world.