JLL Foundation, the non-profit arm of real estate company JLL, has issued its first-annual report, discussing the $2.6 million in loans it gave to 15 startups focused on sustainability and climate change.
The foundation provides zero-interest loans to startups focused on mitigating climate change. Of the 15 startups, 53% are reducing waste; 40% are decarbonizing the building sector; 33% are reducing water consumption; and 33% are making a social impact, according to the report.
The zero-interest loans that JLL Foundation provides are part of the organization’s brief that small loans can make a big difference to early-stage companies. The loans may supplement other funding, such as startups that are between funding cycles or slow government funding processes. According to JLL, the loans by JLL Foundation have also helped the startups secure other funding from for-profit companies and other foundations.
“As impact investors, we have helped these companies survive and thrive by deploying catalytic capital and through their association with the JLL brand,” Trish Maxson, JLL Foundation chair, said in a statement. “By reinvesting returned funds, we are building a sustainable model that benefits all stakeholders.”
JLL Foundation detailed how its loans are varied based on the needs of each startup. Several of the companies are focused on building a clean economy, including construction startup Babylon Gardens, which operates in the Mediterranean region and designs and manufactures green roofs and walls from locally recycled plastics to promote energy efficiency and resilience. Another company based in Kenya that received a foundation loan, Kubik, turns plastic waste into low-carbon buildings. The company faced significant challenges when it came to funding, according to founder Kidus Asfaw.
“Apart from our experience with the JLL Foundation, fundraising was not so straightforward,” Asfaw said in the annual report. “Our ambition to scale from day one did not match market conditions and the investment climate. This led us to adapt our operations and fundraising strategy so that we could get started fast, generate revenue and scale production to meet fundraising milestones.”
Other startups were focused on recycling, such as recycling software and data company CIRT (Can I Recycle This), and food, such as California-based Malibu Mylk, which manufactures organic milk made from whole ground flaxseed.
Last year, JLL acquired Envio Systems, a Berlin-based technology company that delivers sustainable building operations by intelligently integrating data from building systems and providing predictive analytics and building automation.
JLL Foundation was created last year to make a long-term impact on environmental sustainability. See the full report here.
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