Special Feature October: Impact Investing at Business Schools, What’s happening and why you should be taking note

Traditional finance students are perhaps the most sceptical when it comes to sustainability, often failing to see the relevance to them and to their careers. But this is changing significantly. Impact investing is now not only a tool that business students around the world are learning about, but a growing number of opportunities are being created for students to go beyond just learning about it to actually engaging in it.

Over the month of October Primetime will be exploring the range of Impact Investing opportunities that exist at universities around the world. We will include a mix of summaries of different competitions, courses, centres and other opportunities being developed at business schools globally (both signatories and non signatories) as well as a range of in depth features of initiatives from Advanced Signatory Schools.

So what is impact investing? The Global Impact Investing Network defines impact investing as investments that are made in companies, organisations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impacts alongside a financial return.” On a global scale, impact investments under management are worth about US$77.4billion and it is forecast to reach $2 trillion by 2025 (GIIN).

These courses are fast becoming the most popular on campus, not just for finance students but for students interested in consulting, industry and even NGOs. There are also a wide range of career options for students interested in and knowledgeable about impact investing.

While many of the initiatives at business schools in this space are relatively young, the business sector has been exploring impact investing for some time now. In this first post we look at a few resources on impact investing that provide a good introduction and overview of the subject.

The Global Impact Investing Network drives thought leadership on a number of key themes within the impact investing network. Recent work is focused on the role of impact investing in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Among their work is IRIS, a catalogue of generally accepted performance metrics that leading impact investors use to measure social, environmental, and financial success, a searchable online database of impact investment funds and a career centre with impact investing job openings. They also have a good primer on what you need to know about impact investing.

In 2014 the G8 produced a report called Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of Markets about harnessing the power of entrepreneurship, innovation and capital for public good. The Global Social Impact Investment Steering Group, a successor to the work of the G8 Social Impact Investment Taskforce, was established in 2015 to increase momentum by promoting a unified view of impact investment. Its members include 13 countries plus the EU as well as observers from governments and organisations supportive of impact investing. The following site contains videos of the keynotes and panel discussions from the G8 Social Impact Investment Forum in 2013. The World Economic Forum has also produced some work around impact investing including From the Margins to the Mainstream: Assessment of the Impact Investment Sector and Opportunities to Engage Mainstream Investors.

The Global Compact’s A Framework for Action: Social Enterprise and Impact Investing (2012) aims to assist investors, corporations and public policymakers in understanding how to navigate the social enterprise and impact investing space by prioritizing the rationale for engaging, defining a strategy and finally choosing specific approaches to execute. The UNDP Social Impact Fund is a co-investment platform where investors can use blended financial models to create both economic and social dividends. Within the UN family, UNEP has also produced resources around what they call positive impact including a Positive Impact Manifesto.

The MacArthur Foundation and Beeck Centre for social impact and innovation at Georgetown University produced a report on Impact Investing Education and Training which outlines some of the research being done in impact investing at universities globally. Another similar report was produced by the MacArthur Foundation and Said Business School at Oxford University called The Landscape of Social Impact Investment Research: Trends and Opportunities.

There are also a number of organisations that focus specifically on impact investing in different countries. For example the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing in Canada has been organising the Social Finance Forum for the past 10 years that brings together 400 entrepreneurs and investors and the US Forum for Sustainable And Responsible Investing that recently published a report on impact investing trends in the US.

A few examples of impact investing already covered on Primetime include:

 

 

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