Making Sense of the Many Kinds of Impact Investing

Everyone agrees that impact investing is on the rise.

According to the Global Impact Investing Network, the market for impact capital, currently sized at $60 billion, could grow over the next decade to $2 trillion, or 1% of global invested assets. But despite this growing interest, impact investing still faces a significant stumbling block that limits the flow of new capital into the field: not everyone agrees on what “impact investing” actually means.

Currently, impact can mean anything from venture investments in new health technologies to microfinance loans in Peru; from affordable housing in the US to renewable energy in India; from social impact bonds to private equity funds that create jobs.  That’s just the beginning of the confusion—even if you accepted that such diverse investments should all be grouped into one category, how do you even measure and compare impact anyway?

Faced with this uncertainty, most investors have chosen one of three options.  First, they search for examples of impact within their existing portfolios, bringing no incremental capital into the field.  Second, they deploy a small amount out of an experimental or mission-motivated pocket, which still holds back enormous amounts of capital.  Or third, and more common, is that they sit on the impact-investing sidelines. None of these are ideal outcomes.

In order to free up all the dry powder waiting for the right impact opportunity, the investment industry needs to help investors clearly articulate three guiding principles behind their investments: what kind of impact they want to have, how deep or broad their intended impact is, and the level of risk they are willing to accept.

Type of impact

Each investor will have their own conception of the social good they are trying to achieve. Investors might have a geographic focus: they may care more about developed or developing economies, or a particular country or community. They may have a thematic lens: improved healthcare, educational reform, financial inclusion, climate change and so on.   The investor might want to fund the invention of new solutions or she might simply want to improve the practices of existing businesses. There is no right or wrong impact class—what matters is identifying preferences. We think a good start is to assess investors’ preferences across five catagories:

Place: Investments in companies or projects that are located in a particular place (or benefit a particular group of people).

For example, the Hoxton Hotel, located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in London, created about 40 entry-level jobs with 73% of the wages going to those living in low-income neighborhoods.  Another example would be the Calvert Foundation’s Women Investing in Women Initiative, which allows individual investors to make loans to women in developing markets to access clean energy.

Process: Investments that pay careful attention to business practices, such as “fair trade” coffee, equitable labor practices in a supply chain, or buy-one-give-one models that provide access to goods and services to those in need.

For instance, Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund provides finance to farmers whose cultivation practices are more sustainable in places like the Palestine Territories, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic, avoiding traditional chemically-intensive fertilizer in delicate ecosystems. Or take Warby-Parker, which provides a pair of reading glasses in developing countries every time it sells a pair of its own glasses.

Planet: Investments that have a clear and measurable environmental benefit, either through the preservation and restoration of critical natural habitat, or the measurable reduction of carbon dioxide through new energy efficient products.

The Lyme Timber Company is a private timberland investment management organization that acquires and sustainably manages land with unique conservation value in the United States and Canada.  BrightPower provides comprehensive energy efficiency audits and heating and lighting retrofits for multi-tenant affordable housing in the New York metropolitan area.

Product: Investments in products or services that have positive social benefits.

Springboard Education provides after-school educational enrichment programs to 3,000 students at 50 public and charter schools in 11 states in the United States.  Ziqitza Health Care Limited took a largely patchwork network of local ambulance companies in India and created a national ambulance and emergency medical services company with world-class medical standards.

Paradigms: Investments that attempt to change an entire system for the better.

Revolution Foods intends to alter the system of childhood nutrition in the United States by providing healthy, nutritious school lunches in public and charter schools.  The Gates Foundation’s investments in Zyomyx and Alere both seek to transform the cost and accessibility of point-of-care diagnostics in emerging markets.

Intensity and immediacy of impact

Having identified what kind of impact the investor seeks, the second question is to understand the intensity and scope of the desired impact, for which category of beneficiaries the impact is targeted, and over what timeframe. Some investors might want to support strategies that generate critical long-term change, such as essential preventative healthcare for hard-to-serve populations, as primary-care provider Iora Health seeks to do.  Others might seek smaller incremental changes that benefit a broader set of beneficiaries with more immediately noticeable change, such as the introduction of a new educational technology like Kinvolved that improves attendance in public schools. Depth, breadth, and the time horizon of impact can help further guide where investors would like to place their money.

Impact risk profile

With every impact investment there is not only financial risk, but also impact risk: will the desired impact be delivered?  Investors should ask what existing evidence they need to see before they make the investment, or what metrics they will expect to see after the investment has been made that can demonstrate progress.  For example: there is reasonable evidencethat providing healthy school lunches can make a difference in the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, while there remains a debate whether access to toilets in slums in emerging markets will reduce incidence of diarrheal disease, which is why Sanergy is such a high risk investment from an impact perspective.

By identifying where to invest, the desired intensity of impact, and an investment’s risk profile, investors can start to identify “impact asset classes,” and then look within their financial portfolio, asset class by asset class, to find impact opportunities that map onto their financial risk and return objectives.  Ultimately, asset managers can develop a matrix with financial asset classes (e.g., cash, fixed income, private equity, etc.) down one side and impact classes (e.g., place, process, planet) across the top.

A foundation president with a strong risk orientation who cares about transforming the education system could, for example, use the matrix to find an equity investment in a fund that seeds “paradigm” ventures in education.  Or the CIO of large hospital’s pension plan could use the matrix to identify a debt fund that lends to locally-based companies (the “place” category) with strong socially responsible business practices serving the hospital, with cascading impact on the entire hospital ecosystem, from the sustainability and nutrition of the food served to patients, to the employment and environmental practices of the outsourced laundry services.

But defining clear investor impact preferences and how they fit into their financial portfolios alone will not be sufficient; for this ecosystem to be successful, advisors, fund managers, and the underlying companies will need to find ways to remain faithful to the investor’s intent around impact.  As it stands now, absent meaningful measures of social impact and incentives to achieve them, there is little to require anyone to comply with an investor’s impact objectives beyond achieving the minimum.  This is not to say that all impact investments need to deliver the impact promised; all investments carry a risk of poor return.  But without a mechanism to align all players in the impact value chain around an investor’s expectations, the field risks an impact “race to the bottom” where funds or companies do as little as possible to comply with an investor’s objectives.  A comparable concept to “fiduciary duty” — call it “impact fidelity” — is needed to bind different actors to attempt to achieve the impact preferences that an investor articulates.

As impact investing gains traction with mainstream investors, the field needs to develop tools that can help investment professionals categorize and understand the potentially limitless combinations and permutations of impact-investment options.  Asking a few straightforward questions and thinking about a well-defined set of impact classes–combined with the concept of impact fidelity–should get more investors off the sidelines and into the impact investing game, with enormous consequences for human progress.

-By Brian Tresltad, for Harvard Business Review

Posted on September 26, 2016 .

Impact Investing Takes Hold on Business School Campuses

The likes of Harvard and Wharton are teaching investing for both financial and social benefit.

Danielle Reed was already an impact investor when she stepped onto the campus of the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business in 2013 — though her family didn’t know it. They thought she worked at a nonprofit. But Reed actually worked for San Francisco-based boutique impact investing firm Imprint Capital, which was gobbled up by Goldman Sachs in 2015.

“Now they can read about impact investing in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. They know what it is,” the 32-year-old San Francisco native says.

Indeed, in the past few years the idea of garnering both financial and social returns on investment has moved from the fringe to the mainstream — while also moving toward the mainstream of elite business school curricula.

At the same time, Reed was beginning her business training in Northern California, a new course on impact investing was created at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Three years later, Jacob Gray, director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, says the course’s enrollment tops the school’s traditional investing course. “It’s become extremely popular,” Gray says.

Starting this fall, Harvard Business School will launch its first iteration of an impact investment course, joining the likes of Columbia Business School, which has been offering similar courses for more than a decade. Duke’s Fuqua School of Business is doing the same.

It may seem as if do-gooder investors are taking over elite B-schools. But ask any top-shelf finance prof and he or she will pump their chests telling you how this is nothing new and they’ve been doing some form of impact investment instruction since the 1950s, when sustainable, responsible, and impact investing (SRI) was first conceived. Everyone wants to be first. In the ’60s and ’70s, amid the United States’ political and social upheaval, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing came to the fore. Not until recently, however, have significant curricular and extra-curricular resources in MBA programs been pumped into the phenomenon that many are still trying to properly define. As human rights issues continue to arise in the 21st century, the timing of it all certainly makes sense.

Adding a layer to B-school finance

“Those of us who have been in this world for the past 20 years have had a lot of conversations over those 20 years with only us in the room. And now it’s everyone,” says Cathy Clark, adjunct professor at Duke’s Fuqua School and the director of Fuqua’s CASE i3 Initiative on Impact Investing. Over the past five years, Clark says, significant interest from venture capitalists, investment banks, and even pension funds have led to an influx of new, diverse voices in the room — creating “a welcome conversation. And that makes a difference to the purview of an MBA and this as a career track.”

Between talent development and research, she says, academia has played and will continue to play a major role in the development of the fledgling field. “What changed about five years ago is that we realized the field was catching up and the term ‘impact investing’ had emerged,” says Clark, who has spent 25 years in the field and who taught her first impact investing-related course at Columbia Business School in 2001.

More from WeeSeeGenius: The Most Fascinating Impact Investor You Never Heard Of

Four years after Clark came to Duke’s Fuqua School in 2007, she created CASE i3. “I thought it would take five or six years to build a robust program,” Clark says. “And I was completely wrong.” Within three years, she says, “significant numbers” of incoming MBA classes indicated through school surveys that they chose Fuqua because of its leadership in the field. Now between 10% and 30% of each class applies to be part of CASE i3. “We are seeing more mainstream finance students trying this out,” notes Clark, adding that the 18 impact investing-related credits offered by the school serve alongside traditional finance courses. “It’s not cannibalizing finance, it’s a layer we want to teach them on top of finance,” she points out. Every year, she says, about 70 to 80 students take Fuqua’s mainstay impact investing course.

The Wharton Social Venture Fund, a $500,000 student-run fund, was created six years ago. Currently more than 60 students are on the team, which Jacob Gray says has grown into the most “popular and selective” club on Wharton’s campus. Each year, about a third of the class shows up to Gray’s introductory meeting for the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, he says, and while many gravitate back to traditional finance, a significant portion are “curious enough to take some kind of content.”

Students at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business also have the opportunity to make impact investments through the Michigan Ross Social Venture Fund. There are two funds at Columbia: Microlumbia, co-founded by MBA students David del Ser Bartolome and Katie Leonberger in 2008, gives MBAs the opportunity to consult and make investments in companies’ existing “under-banked” populations; the Impact Investing Initiative is a multi-disciplinary fund made up of four schools within Columbia, including the business school and the Earth Institute.

At Berkeley, Finance Professor Adair Morse says impact investing is endemic to the school’s identity. “Berkeley is about not just concern with financial health, but also social agenda and improving the world — the kind of things that make Berkeley, Berkeley.”

While the school hasn’t built any specific impact investment-related curriculum, Morse says she and other professors in traditional business disciplines bake a side of social impact into their courses. “Although we could easily fill a class for impact investing, we look at it like ethics,” she says. “Do you want to teach a class on ethics on its own? Or do you want to weave it into the other areas?” Case in point is her New Venture Finance course. Any Haas MBA keen on entrepreneurship takes it. They also receive a hefty dose on impact investing, which Morse says takes up a third of the course. And that’s fine with most students, she says. “Millennials are much more interested in having dual returns, and the MBAs are moving that way strongly, from what we’ve seen,” she says.

Most popular for impact investing-minded Haas MBAs is the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund, which the school says is the first and most robust of its kind. Each year, 16 students are selected from an applicant pool to manage the fund, which currently is worth more than $2.6 million. Seren Pendleton-Knoll, the program director of the Haas Center for Responsible Business, is quick to rattle off key points about the fund’s success — most notably, she says, that it has “realized a total return of 0.1721%” in the past year, outperforming the “iShares Russell 3000 ETF’s total return of -0.36% by 53.5 basis points.”

What exactly is impact investing?

If all this seems like a hodgepodge of do-gooder-ness pouring in from all directions, that’s because, in a way, it is.

“The struggle we have with impact investing is meshing too many things under one term,” Morse says. “For us, the goal at the end of all of this is to get more private capital going to investments that … brings social good to something, whether it’s jobs, environment, or poverty.”

If there is a guiding force for impact investing at business schools, it’s the MBA Impact Investing and Training Network (MIINT). Founded in 2011 by Bridges Ventures and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the program now has a network of more than 25 of the world’s strongest business schools. Each year, students or teams pick a startup and develop an investment pitch. Judges include Bridges Ventures partners and higher-ups from Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs. Last year, more than 600 students from around the globe competed.

More from WeeSeeGenius: A Q&A With Indiegogo’s Danae Ringelman, One Of Tech’s True Innovators

Hodgepodge or not, the impact investing phenomenon is significant. Be it Goldman Sachs’ purchase of Imprint Capital, Blackrock’s launch of an impact fund, or the venture capital and private equity dough pouring into the space, times are changing. Adding more fuel to the impact investment inferno was the publication of the most recent Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN) annual Impact Investor Survey. Regarded the most robust of its kind, the survey offered some interesting numbers. Since 2014, deals from 158 leading impact investors have surged from about 5,400 to the 12,000 or more expected in 2016. At the same time, the total value of the deals leapt from more than $10.5 billion in 2014 to an expected $17.7 billion this year.

“Relative to five years ago, we see a significant uptick in student, faculty, and alumni interest,” says Matt Segneri, director Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative. “More people are pursuing internships, conducting research, getting involved in competitions, and transitioning to impact-focused funds.”

According to Matthew Weatherley-White, co-founder and president of CAPROCK Group, a $3 billion multi-family investment fund, impact investing may very well be the next step in modern portfolio theory.“Capital markets are an evolutionary animal. I think we forget that,” he says. Weatherley-White says modern portfolio theory was the dominant staple for future Wall Streeters in business schools from the 1950s on, until it played a significant role in the 2008 market crash. If impact investing can become the next modern portfolio theory, our world might be in better shape than we imagined, Weatherley-White says.

Gray sees it the same way. “My personal prediction is, this is just the way investing is going to get done in the future,” he says. “It will be an anomaly for one not to measure on three dimensions instead of just two. Instead of risk and return, it will be risk, return, and impact.”

A sign of changing times and power shifts

The rise of impact investing comes as white, male, baby boomers begin to pass their wealth and power on to an increasingly diverse millennial generation. More women are enrolled in MBA programs than ever before. Women and millennials seem to be the most interested in impact investing, and the growing programmatic offerings at elite B-schools have come in response to the increased interest.

Amit Bouri, CEO of the GIIN, says this transfer of wealth and leadership will have a “profound impact on fueling the growth of impact investing going forward.”

Weatherley-White agrees. “If you look at the projected $42 trillion of wealth that will be transferred over the next 30 years from the predominately male baby boomers to their wives and children, who are mainly millennials, and you look at who’s driving impact investing, it’s women and millennials,” he explains. “You have to ask yourself, is this an inevitable trend of the capital market? Because the people who have the capital will be asking for it. And I think the answer is yes.”

Speed bumps along the way

Impact investing faces a few obstacles. First is the infancy and lack of proof in the field. Second is the job outlook. “There is a ton of hype around impact investing,” says Danielle Reed, who has since taken a job in the mission-related investing department of Cambridge Associates’ San Francisco office. “In a very short period of time, the industry has become quite well known. But there has been little to show for it.”

Last year, Gray and a Wharton team produced the first significant piece of evidence in a study that examined 53 private equity funds with a total of 557 individual impact investments.They found that in “certain segments” of the market, there were no trade-offs for financial and social returns. “You now have a little bit of ammunition to say it’s at least worth the look,” Gray said.

In a “very preliminary” draft of the completed research Gray shared with We See Genius, investment impact funds performed 13.5% bettter than benchmark traditional venture funds. The robust report examined around 3,500 partners, 5,000 funds, and 25,000 capital commitments. “Our results imply that the supply of impact funds is incomplete, failing to meet demand,” the abstract of the report reads.

In the meantime, rising demand seems to be hobbling the industry’s growth. “There just aren’t that many jobs out there,” Gray asserts matter-of-factly. While Reed was able to pick up where she left off after her MBA, that’s not the case for all graduates — especially those coming from the nonprofit or social sectors. “Their experience is very relevant, but they can’t say they’ve done banking or some other finance job before school,” Reed says. “So the question always becomes, how can I show my potential employer that through my finance classes at business school I am a good candidate?”

Zeina Fayyaz knows what Reed is talking about. The 27-year-old freshly minted Berkeley-Haas MBA has an impressive resume. After graduating from Harvard, Fayyaz went to work at Boston-based nonprofit Root Cause, quickly working her way up to accelerator manager, where she built a portfolio of nonprofits and, later, social enterprises that received $10,000 grants and consulting from her.

Fayyaz grew interested in impact investing at business school. “I never would have been to exposed to as much as quickly without the MBA.” And yet, here she is about a month after graduation with a couple of consulting projects but no full-time employment. She turned down one offer and has been geographically “choosy,” but she has also struggled to win over hiring managers for impact investment jobs. “It’s a harder case to make than I anticipated coming in. And I did everything,” Fayyaz says.

Fayyaz interned at Goldman Sachs last summer, and she spent the past spring interning at San Francisco-based impact investing firm Sonen Capital.

The explanation seems simple to Reed. “There just aren’t that many jobs compared to the people who express an interest in impact investing,” she says.

Patrick Sagisi, an associate at leading impact investing venture capital firm DBL Partners, was surprised to hear that some MBAs struggle to find a place in the impact investing universe. “It’s a big umbrella with a lot of people under it,” he notes. Sagisi, who holds an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, suggests that there is an overwhelming abundance of opportunities.

More from WeeSeeGenius: Inside Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative

Even with a nonprofit background, Sagisi believes the MBA holds special value among potential impact investing employers, especially within his own office. “We think having an MBA is a critical part of having the skills in understanding businesses and business models in order to be an effective investor,” he says, noting it’s certainly not the only requirement. A policy background is particularly attractive for his firm’s clients in the energy space, he adds.

Reed says that at Cambridge Associates, an MBA is viewed as attractive but not necessary. “In general, do I think an MBA is required to work in impact investing? I think it’s becoming increasingly necessary. Because the space is becoming increasingly competitive,” she says, adding that she doesn’t want to see impact investing “go to a place where we only have ex-bankers working here.”

Ex-bankers or not, impact investing is gaining increasing attention from within and outside business school campuses.

“When people like Bill Gates and even Warren Buffett talk about how capitalism has created the [conditions for] so many problems — wealth and income inequality, environmental degradation — you have to question the system,” Weatherley-White insists. “And that’s the beauty of impact investing. Is it really enough just to be focusing on the financial short-term? And I think the answer collectively is … maybe not.”

Posted on September 26, 2016 .

MIT Sloan takes top prize at largest-ever MIINT competition

  • The MIINT is an experiential impact investing program for MBA students, with more than 600 students participating from across the globe
  • It culminates in a finals day at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where teams of students pitch a potential impact investment to a team of expert judges
  • The MIT Sloan School of Management presented the winning proposal, which will result in the company receiving a $50,000 investment (pending further due diligence)
  • The growing popularity of the program highlights the rising interest in impact investing, particularly among the millennial generation

PHILADELPHIA/ LONDON/ NEW YORK: This weekend, 25 student teams from some of the world’s top business and policy schools gathered at The Wharton School on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia for the culmination of the MIINT, an experiential impact investing program produced by Bridges Impact+, the advisory arm of Bridges Ventures, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.

The MIINT (MBA Impact Investing Network & Training programme) is an experiential lab designed to give students at business and graduate schools a hands-on education in impact investing, while helping participants in the field to identify a pipeline of talent and investment opportunities.

This year’s program was the biggest ever, with more than 600 students around the world taking part.

The MIINT culminates with a final competition, where the teams pitch real-life impact investing opportunities to a team of expert judges in the hope of winning a $50,000 investment for their selected company from MIINT’s sponsor, The Moelis Family Foundation.

The winner of this year’s competition was the MIT Sloan School of Management in the U.S., who presented on an innovative financial inclusion business that helps people in South America access credit. Their prize was the opportunity for a $50,000 investment in their selected company (pending further independent review).

The first runner-up was a team from the UK’s London Business School, for a business commercializing a technology that makes electric motors more energy-efficient. The second prize was a potential investment of $25,000 from MIINT sponsor Liquidnet. The second runner-up – also winning a potential $25,000 investment from Liquidnet – was a team from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada, who presented on a business that supplies prosthetic limbs for amputees in developed and developing markets.

All three winners were participating in the MIINT for the first year this year. Teams from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University completed the final five, presenting on a technology-based employment matching business and a transportation energy efficiency business, respectively.

The team from Columbia Business School also earned an award for Best Diligence.

All the judges – who included Surya Kolluri of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ron Moelis of L+M Development Partners, Andrea Phillips of Goldman Sachs, Ron Albahary of Threshold Group, Susan Balloch of the Global Impact Investing Network, Ross Coull of CDC Group, Marc Diaz of NatureVest, Miljana Vujosevic of Prudential, Dustin Rosen of Wonder Ventures, John Rogers of Bridges Ventures and Liesel Pritzker Simmons of Blue Haven Initiative – noted the extremely high calibre of presentations across the board.

In addition to the competition, many of the judges and a number of other leading impact investors made themselves available to participants for one-to-one career discussions during the preceding day, in addition to a speaker panel during the main day. There were also numerous opportunities for the students to network and learn from each other.

Brian Trelstad, Partner at Bridges Ventures, said:

“A vital part of building the impact investment field is to develop a pipeline of talented people who combine solid commercial training with an appreciation for how social and environmental changes happen. We recognised that business schools might find it difficult to meet the growing interest in impact investing among MBA students, so we created the MIINT as a new kind of course: one that is experiential, and one that is inherently collaborative, by working across campuses around the world. The MIINT’s remarkable growth in the last three years demonstrates the global appetite for this kind of programme.”

Jacob Gray, Senior Director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, said

“Demand for impact investing content is growing on campuses around the world. Our goal in co-producing the MIINT is to provide the best experiential education available in the field of impact investment. And we believe this kind of experience should be made available to students across the world.”

 

Posted on April 13, 2016 .

Kellogg, Wharton, and Haas Take Top Honors at MIINT Finals

MIINT engages a network of student-led MBA teams at prominent business schools across the world in impact investing competition.

APRIL 2015, PHILADELPHIA, PA. — This Saturday, April 18, Bridges Impact+ and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative hosted the fourth annual MIINT competition—an international training program for business and graduate students interested in impact investing. The competition welcomed over 100 participants, judges and guests to the University of Pennsylvania campus. After a full day of pitches and deliberation, student teams from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley took the top awards. 

Run by Bridges Impact+, the advisory arm of specialist fund manager Bridges Ventures, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) is a year-long program dedicated to training and connecting the next generation of impact investors. Under the program, students from top business schools in the U.S. and Europe learn to source and diligence impact investments, and then compete at a live pitch event.

An investment committee engaged in two rounds of lively and spirited deliberations to select the best investments.  These judges brought a diverse range of experience in venture capital, private equity, angel and impact investing.

The investment committee selected the following winners: 

1.    Best Impact Investment: Kellogg School of Management, presenting Infiniteach.

Infiniteach is a seed stage education company which offers tablet-based learning applications that provide teachers and parents with customized solutions for children with autism. The company’s learning platform teaches a variety of academic, social, communication, and daily living skills and captures real-time student data. The first prize included an opportunity for a $50,000 investment in Infiniteach.

2.    Runner-Up Best Impact Investment: Wharton Social Venture Fund, presenting Care at Hand, Inc.

Care at Hand, Inc. is a smart survey platform that predicts and prevents re-hospitalizations using observations of non-clinical workers. A research study showed that their patent-pending technology can reduce readmissions by 39.6% and save net $2.57 for every $1.00 invested. The runner-up award included an opportunity for a $25,000 investment.

3.    Best Diligence: Haas School of Business presenting eMoneyPool.

This winning pitch introduced eMoneyPool, a technology platform that brings traditional money pool structures online to help users create and join pools, safely transfer funds, and work towards accessing and building credit. 

The potential $50,000 and $25,000 impact investments to the winning teams are supported by the Moelis Family Foundation and Liquidnet for Good. 

“Demand for impact investing content is huge on campuses around the world,” says Jacob Gray, Senior Director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.  “Our goal in co-producing the MIINT is to provide the best experiential education available in the field of impact investment.  And we believe this kind of experience should be open to many students from many universities.”

The MIINT Program simulates a traditional early-stage investment fund and trains students on how to source, analyze, and conduct due diligence on early-stage companies that create positive social or environmental impact at the same time that they offer attractive investment opportunities. 

“Opportunities for practical experience in impact investing are rare. The MIINT process gives students a chance to interact with real CEOs of real companies as if they were investors,” says Brian Trelstad, a partner at Bridges Ventures.

Student teams, comprised of approximately 200 MBA students, have been participating throughout the academic year, culminating at the final competition on April 18. This year also included the competition’s first European entrant, from ESSEC Business School in Paris.

“MIINT has been one of the most rewarding experiences we have had,” says the Kellogg MIINT team, following their win. “From learning the fundamentals of impact investing, to going through the process of sourcing and conducting due diligence on social enterprises, it was an opportunity to truly play the role of an impact investor.”

This year’s competition represented teams from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, Columbia Business School, David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, Darden School of Business at University of Virginia, Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, ESSEC Business School, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

 

Posted on April 23, 2015 .

Global MIINT Competition Brings Together Ten Business Schools to Compete for $50,000 Impact Investment Opportunity

MIINT engages a network of student-led MBA teams at prominent business schools across the world in impact investing competition.

APRIL 18, 2015, PHILADELPHIA, PA. — Bridges Impact+, the advisory arm of specialist fund manager Bridges Ventures, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will host the fourth annual MIINT competition for student-led impact investing teams this Saturday, April 18, 2015 at Wharton. 

Run by Bridges Impact+ and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) is a global program dedicated to training the next generation of impact investors. Under the program, students from top business schools in the U.S. and Europe learn to source and diligence impact investments, and then compete at a live pitch event. The company presented by the winning student team has the opportunity to receive an investment of up to $50,000, which is made by an individual independent investor.

“Opportunities for practical experience in impact investing are rare. The MIINT process gives students a chance to interact with real CEOs of real companies as if they were investors,” says Brian Trelstad, a partner atBridges Ventures.

The MIINT Program simulates a traditional early-stage investment fund and trains students on how to source, analyze, and conduct due diligence on early-stage companies that create positive social or environmental impact at the same time that they offer attractive investment opportunities.  For more information about MIINT, visit the-miint.org.

“Demand for impact investing content is huge on campuses around the world,” says Jacob Gray, Senior Director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.  “Our goal in co-producing the MIINT is to provide the best experiential education available in the field of impact investment.  And Wharton thinks this kind of experience should be open to many students from many universities.”

Each team creates an investment thesis – focusing on investments in specific sectors such as the environment, education, financial inclusion, and healthcare. The program takes students through a rigorous due diligence process, and each team narrows its selection down to one company that the team feels is a strong investment opportunity.

Students present multiple companies to campus-based judging committees, who then select the most promising combination of impact and return to be presented at the national finals.

“Our clients have expressed a lot of interest in aligning their values with their investments,” says Surya Kolluri, Managing Director, Policy and Market Planning, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Wealth and Investment Management. “We therefore think what Bridges and Wharton have designed with the MIINT provides extremely relevant training for the next generation of investment talent.” Bank of America Merril Lynch is a proud sponsor of the 2015 competition.

In the first round of the final competition on April 18, student teams from each of the 10 schools will present their final analysis and selection to an independent investment committee comprised of leaders in impact investing from across the country.

Three to five student teams will advance to the final round, during which the committee will ask each team in-depth questions about their chosen companies.

Ron Moelis, the CEO of L and M Development Partners, a New York-based real estate development company that focuses on community investment and development in urban areas, will evaluate the winning company with the goal of making an investment of up to $50,000 through the Moelis Family Foundation. Moelis is passionate about impact investing and the educational opportunity that MIINT affords business school students.  

“My family’s foundation has been backing the MIINT for three years now,” says Moelis.  “The student excitement for this topic is infectious and represents a significant shift in the way MBAs think about investing.”

In addition, Liquidnet, the global institutional trading network, will make a $25,000 investment – pursuant to its independent investment review – into the runner-up investment opportunity through the Liquidnet Impact Fund, its donor advised fund.

“Liquidnet is focused on accelerating the practice of impact investing, and the MIINT creates a great talent pipeline for this emerging field,” says Brian Walsh, Liquidnet’s head of Corporate Impact.   

Student teams, comprised of approximately 200 MBA students, have been participating throughout the academic year.

These teams represent the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, Columbia Business School, David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, Darden School of Business at University of Virginia, Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, ESSEC Business School in Paris, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

 

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 About Bridges Impact +

Bridges Impact + is the advisory arm of Bridges Ventures LLP (“Bridges Ventures”), a specialist fund manager that uses an impact-driven investment approach to create superior returns for both investors and society as a whole. Bridges IMPACT + seeks to promote the growth of the sustainable and impact investment sector by offering practitioner-led advisory services based on Bridges Ventures’ 12 year experience of investing for financial returns and positive impact. For more information, visit www.bridgesventures.com.

 About Wharton Social Impact Initiative

Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII) is a hub for social impact activities, information, and resources at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Established in 2009, WSII harnesses the knowledge and creativity of the Wharton community to investigate, create, and implement solutions to enduring social problems. It supports faculty, students, and alumni in the drive to use business knowledge and practices to enhance the greater good of the local community, the nation, and the world. For more information, visit socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu.

Posted on April 17, 2015 .

MIINT announces 2014 winners

Philadelphia, PA. — The winners of this year’s MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) competition were announced at an event attended by over 60 students from seven top U.S. business schools, held at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on March 22. 

The MIINT program is an initiative of Bridges IMPACT+, the advisory arm of specialist fund manager Bridges Ventures, and The Wharton Social Impact Initiative. Under the program, student-led investment teams from top business schools learn to source and conduct due diligence on impact investments, and then compete for the chance to win a $50,000 investment into their selected company. 

At the MIINT final competition on March 22, student teams presented their recommendations to a panel of 10 judges comprising leaders in the impact investing and venture capital sectors. 

Three MBA students, Cindy Ye, Jennifer Wittig, and Zoila Jennings, from the Kellogg School of Management attained the top honors, winning the Best Investment and Best Impact awards for their presentation of Jail Education Solutions (JES), an early stage social enterprise that provides educational content for inmates through tablet technology. The company aims to reduce recidivism and increase employment opportunities for inmates through enabling self-driven education. For Kellogg, winning means a potential $50,000 angel investment into JES. The primary program sponsor of the MIINT is Ron Moelis, CEO of L+M Development Partners. Moelis is passionate about impact investment and has been a strong supporter of the MIINT for the last two years. Other sponsors of the program are Apax Foundation, Liquidnet for Good, Mission Throttle, and Impact Engine. 

Other winners included the Ross and Wharton MBA student team, who won the Runner-Up Best Investment award for their joint presentation on Raise, an online platform that allows underserved high school students to earn micro-scholarships for college. The student team at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah also won the Best Diligence award for their presentation on Bloc Power, a start-up that provides energy retrofit financing and installation in underserved neighborhoods. 

The final opportunities presented were selected from over 400 companies that students sourced at the beginning of the program. The student presentations showed strong diligence of the investment opportunities from both an impact and commercial perspective, and showcased the high caliber talent emerging from business schools into the field.
— Brian Trelstad, Partner at Bridges Ventures
Our goal is to provide the best experiential education available in the field of impact investment. I think the students were inspired by the opportunity to test their mettle against some of the smartest MBA students in the world.
— Jacob Gray, Senior Director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative

About Bridges IMPACT + 

Bridges IMPACT + is the advisory arm of Bridges Ventures LLP (“Bridges Ventures”), a specialist fund manager dedicated to using an impact-driven investment approach to create superior returns for both investors and society at large. Bridges IMPACT + seeks to promote the growth of the sustainable and impact investment sector by offering practitioner-led advisory services based on Bridges Ventures’ 12 year experience of investing for financial returns and positive impact. www.bridgesventures.com 

About Wharton Social Impact Initiative 

Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII) is the institutional hub for social impact activities, information, and resources at Wharton. Established in 2009, WSII harnesses the knowledge and creativity of the Wharton community to investigate, create, and implement solutions to enduring social problems. It supports faculty, students, and alumni in the drive to use business knowledge and practices to enhance the greater good of the local community, the nation, and the world. For more information, visit socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu. 

Posted on April 1, 2014 .

Ten U.S. business schools compete for $50,000 investment opportunity at MIINT Competition

MIINT engages a network of student-led MBA teams at prominent business schools across the country in a social impact investing competition. 

When: Saturday, March 22, 2014, 9:00am – 4:00pm 

Where: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Jon M. Huntsman Hall 

Philadelphia, PA. — The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Bridges IMPACT +, the advisory arm of specialist fund manager Bridges Ventures, will soon host the third annual MIINT competition for student-led impact investing teams. 

The MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) is a national program, where student-led investment teams from ten top business schools learn to source and diligence impact investments, and compete for the chance to win a $50,000 investment into the company they present. 

It is an initiative of Bridges IMPACT+, conducted in collaboration with the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. The third annual competition will be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the University of Pennsylvania. 

“There is tremendous interest among students from business schools in the topic of impact investing, but there are few opportunities to learn from practical experience. MIINT gets students to think about how to evaluate the commercial viability of a company, how to assess its impact, and how to understand when the financial returns and the social or environmental benefit of a company can move in lock-step,” says Brian Trelstad of Bridges Ventures. 

The MIINT Program simulates a traditional early stage investment fund and trains students on how to source, analyze, and conduct due diligence on early-stage companies that are not only attractive investment opportunities but also include a positive social or environmental impact. 

Each school creates an investment thesis – focusing on investments in sectors ranging from the environment to education and financial inclusion to healthcare. The program takes students through a rigorous due diligence process, and each team narrows their own selection down to one company that they feel is a strong investment opportunity. Students presented multiple companies to campus-based “investment committees,” who then selected the most promising combination of impact and return to be presented at the national finals. 

In this final stage of the competition on March 22, student teams from each school will have 30 minutes to present their final analysis and selection to a committee comprised of impact investing practitioners from across the country. Ron Moelis, the CEO of L and M Development Partners, a New York based real estate development company that focuses on community investment and development in urban areas, has agreed to consider an investment in the company presented by the winning team in the MIINT competition. Moelis is passionate about impact investing and has agreed to make the requisite investment as long as it meets the investors’ independent criteria. 

Our goal is to provide the best experiential education available in the field of impact investment,” says Jacob Gray, Senior Director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. “I think the students are inspired by the opportunity to test their mettle against some of the smartest MBA students in the world.

Student teams, comprised of approximately 200 MBA students, have been participating throughout the academic year. These teams represent the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, Columbia Business School, David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, Goizueta School of Business at Emory University, Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley, Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

 

About Bridges IMPACT + 

Bridges IMPACT + is the advisory arm of Bridges Ventures LLP (“Bridges Ventures”), a specialist fund manager dedicated to using an impact-driven investment approach to create superior returns for both investors and society at large. Bridges IMPACT + seeks to promote the growth of the sustainable and impact investment sector by offering practitioner-led advisory services based on Bridges Ventures’ 12 year experience of investing for financial returns and positive impact. www.bridgesventures.com 

About Wharton Social Impact Initiative 

Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII) is the institutional hub for social impact activities, information, and resources at Wharton. Established in 2009, WSII harnesses the knowledge and creativity of the Wharton community to investigate, create, and implement solutions to enduring social problems. It supports faculty, students, and alumni in the drive to use business knowledge and practices to enhance the greater good of the local community, the nation, and the world. For more information, visit socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu. 

Posted on March 18, 2014 .