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How to Invest with a Purpose: Interview with an Investment Manager

At Trine, our investments are our impact. To learn more about what the money you invest through us can accomplish, We Don’t Have Time sat down with Ayokanmi Aderibigbe, lawyer-turned-investment manager who works for Trine from his hometown of Toronto.
Hello, Ayo! We introduced you as an Investment Manager at Trine – What does that mean, and what do you do at Trine?
It means a lot of things! But to put it simply, while an Investment Manager at Trine is responsible for many things, the first responsibility is deal origination and sourcing. This means that you’re going across different markets and scouting for potential investable projects with a high impact. Once we find these projects, we are also responsible for the due diligence to ensure that the projects are genuine, safe, and have a scalable impact that can benefit from our funding. Once that is done, we structure a transaction with the project developer that ensures the best deal possible for our investors while maximizing the positive impact the project can have on the local community and the planet.
Once an agreement has been reached, you now have a borrower with one or more fundable projects. Another crucial part of the job is managing the relationship with those borrowers. You’re the one they come to when they have questions, need clarification, or perhaps they are encountering unanticipated challenges. As partners, sometimes you have to also help borrowers navigate difficult situations including those that can lead to potential defaults, remaining connected to our borrowers besides their standard reporting obligations keeps us in the know and helps us stay ahead of any potential challenges. In essence, we don’t just disburse money and then take our eyes off the ball, we monitor the projects consistently to ensure that the monies disbursed are applied for the right purposes and report that back to our investors.
Overall, impact is the most important element of each of our investments, and we make clear from the first signing of the agreement what impact we expect from the project. Most of the time, we find that the projects deliver a higher impact than we expected, both in terms of value provided to the local communities and in terms of carbon emissions avoided.
“Private capital can lead to an even greater impact than public capital,” said Ayokanmi Aderibigbe, Investment Manager at Trine.
“Private capital can lead to an even greater impact than public capital,” said Ayokanmi Aderibigbe, Investment Manager at Trine.

Your investments focus on solar energy, why is that?
We focus our investment on solar energy projects for many reasons, the major ones being the abundance of solar projects due to their clean and renewable nature, low operating costs, scalability, job creation potential, and rapid technological advancements. Thanks to these factors, solar technology has been adopted worldwide and is creating a massive impact even in the remotest and poorest communities. There is also the aspect of availability – in most markets where we work, there is a high level of solar irradiance, so the energy production for each solar panel is high, leading to higher efficiency compared to other technologies
Leading experts worldwide reiterate that we need significant funding to transition to renewable energy across the world. How does private capital play a role in this?
According to the World Bank, this transition will require trillions that the world certainly does not have now, so we need every hand on deck. Public capital has been trying to do this for a while, but private capital is extremely crucial, especially in bridging gaps and reaching markets that public capital can’t support. There is a gap between what is needed and what public capital can finance. Trine goes into emerging markets to fund market segments that are either not funded or severely underfunded by public capital. It turns out that these segments are typically commercial and tend to be less risky from an investment perspective.
But in emerging markets, private capital also has another benefit. We have found that investments from private capital can lead to an even greater impact than public capital because when we look for projects to invest in, we look for profits with a purpose. This means that we focus on productive use, meaning that the project should produce renewable energy that is consumed and generates economic activity. Every time we invest in projects in the commercial and industrial sectors in emerging markets, all of that energy will be used productively to create economic value in their local communities.
By focusing on emerging markets, Trine’s investments in renewable energy can have an impact on reducing CO2 emissions as well as providing more people with electricity. Pictured: A Distributed Energy project in India, funded by Trine.
By focusing on emerging markets, Trine’s investments in renewable energy can have an impact on reducing CO2 emissions as well as providing more people with electricity. Pictured: A Distributed Energy project in India, funded by Trine.

Why is the impact on emerging markets so important for the transition?
You have to look at where the energy is most needed. In developed markets, most of the energy infrastructure for renewable energy already exists, so the electricity grid in those markets is already as green as it could possibly be. But in developing markets, a lot of the energy comes from coal or other fossil fuels. There is some hydroelectric power, but there is a lot more opportunity to push for more renewable energy in those markets and push out fossil power, thereby effectively reducing carbon emissions.
Also, the grids in these markets can rarely support the energy demand. We currently don’t have the capital required to bolster the grid significantly, but we can support off-grid projects that increase the total energy output of the country without putting extra strain on the grid. By working with off-grid and partially grid-tied projects, we can provide energy to people who either do not have access to grid electricity in the first place or who do not have access to a stable grid supply. It also enables us to support organizations that want to go off-grid because their operations are threatened by unreliable energy grids.
What are some examples of projects you have available to invest in right now on Trine.com?
We have a lot of projects currently available on the platform, and each project is unique. I would like to highlight projects that have a high impact and touch a large number of communities. One of those projects is Watt Renewables, which provides power to telecommunications towers in emerging markets, focusing on Nigeria. In countries like Nigeria, communications can be a big challenge and a lot of people can barely buy phone credits for their low-cost phones, but they still want to be able to reach their loved ones. By funding projects using solar technology to simultaneously reduce carbon emissions and the cost of electric power to telecommunications companies, we enable them to provide cheaper services to lower-income populations across Nigeria.
Another project I would like to highlight is Distributed Energy, which develops renewable energy facilities for different kinds of high-impact off-takers, for example for schools across India. This is very interesting for us – they are providing energy to the future generation and giving them the tools they need to succeed, which is key for us in terms of impact.
If you want to invest money in projects that make economic sense, make an impact on local communities, and reduce emissions, I would suggest checking these projects out on Trine.com. Remember to diversify your portfolio – invest in both! And visit Trine.com to find more projects to invest in.
Thank you, Ayo. Stay tuned to Trine’s page here on We Don’t Have Time, where you will also be hearing more about Trine’s work and projects!
  • George Kariuki

    9 w

    Certainly going to check it out. Thank you.

    • johnte ndeto

      9 w

      Such a great platform to invest on matters climate

      3
      • Sven Hultman

        10 w

        I love to invest in projects which provide energy in places where electricity does not exist. It gives light and electricity for cocking and much more. Sven Hultman

        1
        • Munene Mugambi

          10 w

          Ver happy with Trine's efforts to ensure sustainability and profitability in the same model.

          1
          • Markus Lutteman

            10 w

            I have invested in several Trine projects. I love being able to have my money help reduce emissions, while also getting a kickback.

            6
            • Munene Mugambi

              10 w

              @markus_lutteman_982 It is encouraging to see your money work for you and for the planet as well.

            • Adam Wallin

              10 w

              Fascinating to hear about the different ways to provide impact through the investments you provide!

              6
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