Fintech meets solar: Raise Green revolutionizes local impact investment and development


Sustainable investing has gone mainstream. A 2021 Morgan Stanley survey found that among individual investors, an astonishing 99% of millennials and 79% of the general population were interested in sustainable investing. Despite this, only 59% of millennials and 53% of the general population reported being currently invested in companies or investment funds that seek to make a positive social or environmental impact. While opportunities exist, barriers remain to adoption. About 71% of respondents had concerns about authenticity or greenwashing, and 58% reported there was a lack of available financial products which fit their portfolio.

The Raise Green platform combines this desire for action on sustainability with easy access for investors and developers, while still retaining authenticity that projects have verifiable impacts on clean energy and other climate solutions. Franz Hochstrasser, co-founder and chief executive officer of Raise Green, was part of the team that successfully negotiated the Paris Agreement. While he has experience in government, he developed Raise Green to enable anyone to directly respond to climate change.

Recent Raise Green initiatives include solar farms in the Pacific Islands from Mana Pacific, decarbonized plastic from Applied Bioplastics, solar panels for a school in Vermont, and an investment in Brooklyn-based building HVAC retrofit start-up company BlocPower.

This business model is made possible by U.S. Securities Exchange Commission changes that allow private equity investment through crowdfunding. Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, green projects can issue debt notes or equity stakes. This democratizes the financing of community-scale solar, and other climate solutions that often struggle to finance themselves through traditional banks and lenders.

Raise Green’s Originator Engine goes beyond financing by providing simple and accessible institutional knowledge on community solar project development. This software solution developed in partnership with IBM provides entrepreneurs with tools and resources from start to finish. During the creation stage, the project developer is guided through legal obstacles to turn their idea into a real business. During the funding stage, the project is vetted through Raise Green’s crowd investment platform to procure financing.  The platform allows individuals to invest in projects for as little as $100 up front. With solar installers being among the top growing job groups, Raise Green provides employment and training tools for project development.

The future looks bright for Raise Green. In the two years since its founding, the organization has brought together investors of all types with 18 climate solutions including community solar, electric vehicle charging, sustainable manufacturing and batteries. The company also recently announced the close of a $1.2 million seed round financing in partnership with Onyx Renewable Partners, and won the Environmental Finance’s Impact Investing Platform of the Year award.

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