Eva Kiefer helps fund the energy transition.

As a co-founder and chief financial officer of investment firm Akira Impact, Kiefer funds projects and companies that are building a cleaner, greener world.

This piece is part of a series of profiles highlighting young people across the country who are addressing the climate crisis. These extraordinary humans give me hope. I write these stories to pay it forward.

As co-founder and chief financial officer of investment firm Akira Impact, Eva Kiefer is supporting ideas that are good for the planet and the people who live here. Photo submitted

Tell us about your company.

Akira supports ideas that are good for the planet and the people who live here. We believe that aligning purpose with profit is good business. We look to underserved markets or people with strong attributes and risk profiles that are overlooked by more traditional investors.

Can you tell us about some success stories?

We are invested in and helped build Green Impact Partners, a rapidly growing public company with $150 million in current annual revenue that takes agricultural waste and converts it to carbon-negative clean fuels and energy. Together, we are building North America’s largest carbon-negative energy plant, turning waste wheat into clean energy — right here in Canada!

Decarbonizing the food supply is important because we don’t expect humans to give up meat or wheat in the near future. In addition, farmers concerned about reduced crop yields following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s planned reductions in allowable levels of nitrogen in fertilizer may be comforted by the income stream from the waste their wheat farming produces. We are helping meet our country’s emission reduction targets while ensuring farmers are not left behind.

As a co-founder and chief financial officer of investment firm Akira Impact, Eva Kiefer is supporting ideas that are good for the planet and the people who live here. #YouthClimateAction

We support a project that uses a eutrophic lake to create a 500-megawatt “water battery” for energy storage. This project will pump lake water to higher levels when power demand is low and cheap and release it back into the same lake when demand is high and expensive. Since this is a closed system, there is no water leakage or river disruption. The circulation oxygenates and cleans the water, increasing biodiversity while it supports the use of renewable energy by reducing intermittency gaps, and provides jobs in a town with few economic development prospects.

It will take time to be self-sufficient in renewable energy. One of our core philosophies is that companies advancing the shift toward renewable energy deserve support. In financing projects, we strive for progress over perfection.

Akira Impact team strategy session, from left: Anshu Narayan, Anatoly Nakum, Emanuel van der Biest, Ashley Vickers, Marie Rajic and Nuvyn Peters. Photo by Geeta Sankappanavar

Tell us about your background.

I came to Canada from Bulgaria as a teenager. We left a life of harsh poverty and spent years in transit navigating the immigration system. My entire extended family remains there and a combination of climate change-caused drought and government policies means they cannot always be confident they will be able to make ends meet, something I saw first-hand.

I get that it is hard for those who work in the energy industry to accept the degree of change we need to have a habitable planet that is fair to everyone, but I wanted to participate in the change and I knew that money is a crucial part of changing systems. After I finished my undergraduate education at the University of Calgary, I got my chartered accountant designation and went to work in financial services to learn the ropes. A few years later, we opened Akira to invest in projects and companies that deliver measurable environmental and social change with strong financial returns.

My journey has taught me to be both highly adaptable and to value hard work and tenacity. I learned to look for opportunities that others may miss and to see trends. Our generation will control $24 trillion by 2030, and we place our values at the centre of our decision-making. My work at Akira is paving the way for others to do the same — and more of it.

Eva Kiefer on a hike at Columbia Lake, B.C. Photo by Ashley Vickers

What makes your work hard?

I love the adventure and challenges of what I do, but we are literally creating the industry as we go. This means we are right there alongside our teams, problem-solving and figuring out the next steps.

What keeps you awake at night?

Change is hard and we need everyone driving toward this agenda to change the system. There are so many phenomenal ideas and we are one just company.

What do you see if we get this right?

We do not have to choose between purpose and profit. By accelerating capital flows away from industries that are contributing to planetary degradation and human suffering and towards those supporting a habitable planet, we can make a difference.

Akira Impact co-founder Eva Kiefer on a trip to Kananaskis, Alta. Photo by Nikolaus Kiefer

Do you have any advice for other young people?

Make sure your values are reflected in your decision-making. You may see only small changes in the day-to-day, but over time, they will add up and you will gain confidence to make the big shifts.

What would you like to say to older readers?

Be open-minded. This generation is right when it refuses to think in silos. Allow us to use your influence and resources to amplify our messages.