In the past year, Actis' partner and head of energy infrastructure, Lucy Heintz, has led on four exits and six investments where the focus was the energy transition and facilitating the accessibility of renewable energy in emerging markets.
In many of these cases, Heintz championed female economic participation and community engagement.
"I'm proud of our community investment programmes that are aimed at creating shared value and female economic empowerment. For example, at Lekela (a pan-Africa wind energy business), Zuma (Mexican wind and solar businesses) and Aela (a Chilean wind business)," says Heintz.
"These initiatives are bringing women into the renewable energy industry," she adds.
The Lekela initiative also won Impact project/investment of the year – renewables in Environmental Finance's IMPACT awards 2022.
In addition, Heintz helped establish a virtual mentorship programme for talented women in Actis' African portfolio companies.
The 12-month programme saw mentees from diverse backgrounds paired up with Actis' professionals so that they might be coached to reach senior positions.
Also in 2022, Heintz oversaw capacity improvements at Atlas Renewable Energy, creating one of the largest independent renewables businesses in the Americas.
Private equity firm Actis won ESG engagement initiative of the year and ESG innovation of the year (funds and portfolios) in Asia and the Americas in this year's Sustainable Investment Awards for its involvement in the introduction of an inclusion and diversity programme at Atlas, encouraging female participation in the renewable energy labour market in the region.
"Under Atlas Energy's female panel installers programme, we trained nearly 1,000 women from local communities in solar panel installation, providing them with routes into the workforce," said Heintz.
She also recently co-established and chaired Actis' Inclusivity & Diversity Committee. She is an active member of the Actis Female Network, and a champion of the firm's Open-Door Initiative to provide peer support to Actis' junior women.
Aside from prioritising local community impacts, Heintz says Actis' ESG-led investment strategy means that their portfolio businesses are left in a strong and sustainable position when Actis exits.
"Our businesses are sustainability leaders, and they make a contribution beyond clean energy and addressing climate change....They build trusted partnerships with key stakeholders, and from that they gain the ability to self-generate new projects and opportunities."
She adds: "Energy is at the epicentre of the net-zero economy. There is a lot to do, and the sector is moving fast. The good news is that so many of the tools that we will need – wind, solar, grid investment models, storage technologies – are already there.
"Bringing more talent into the sector to drive performance, particularly focused on growing the number of women in the sector at all levels, feels important. We are going to need to pull every lever to drive energy transition while continuing to deliver superior investment returns. It's an exciting challenge."
Heintz manages a team of over 50 investment professionals and has been with the firm for 22 years.