Impact Investing at Business Schools – 7 Impact Investing Competitions for Students

Last week, as part of this month’s special series on impact investing, we looked at ten ways business schools are engaging their students in impact investing on campus. An eleventh way is through a range of mostly new impact investing competitions open to business students globally. These competitions, mostly based at US schools, offer students the opportunity to not only learn about impact investing but to apply this knowledge to real cases that often impact actual businesses. Here is a selection of seven such impact investing competitions either run by or with participants from PRME Signatories.

 

  • The IESE Impact Investing Competition is an all day session that simulates an investment process including entrepreneurial pitches, due diligence, term sheet preparation and investment committee meetings, followed by intense negotiations with the entrepreneur of their choice. The event happens annually as part of the Doing Good Doing Well Competition at IESE’s campus in Spain. Participants this year included CEIBS, Cranfield School of Management and IE Business School.

 

  • UBC Sauder School of Business hosted the National Strategy Consulting and Conference event that brought students from across Canada and the United States to compete on an impact investing case based on Brighter Investment, a social venture supported by the Centre for Social Innovation and Impact Investing. Competitors were judged based on their strategy recommendations, as well asthe potential social impact their recommendations would yield. Students across different disciplines were challenged to integrate their financial, marketing and impact measurement skills into a coherent strategy for a social enterprise.

 

 

  • Duke University was one of the schools that recently participated in the Invest for Impact Competition, hosted by UNC Kenan-Flagler in the US. The invitation-only Competition is an experience that includes a wide variety of challenges that bring together top MBA students, sustainable entrepreneurs and successful impact investors, who have an opportunity to learn from and network with each other. Student teams from around the world play the role of impact investors and review business plans of three companies and select the ones they would invest in based off of both financial viability and their social and environmental impact.

 

  • INSEAD in France and Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada both take part in the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT). MIINT is an experiential lab designed to give business students knowledge and skills around impact investing. MBA students create teams at the start of the academic year and identify an impact company that they will focus on during the programme. They then present recommendations to a judging committee composed of industry leaders for a potential investment of up to $50,000 in the companies that they chose to represent during the process.

 

  • Cornell University was one of the finalists in the first Impact Investing in Commercial Real Estate Competition hosted by the University of Miami School of Business Administrations in the US. The Competition focuses on investments made in commercial real estate projects with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside an appropriate financial return. The competition takes place yearly in the US and is open to teams of business schools globally.

 

  • Lagos Business School in Nigeria organised its Impact Investing Competition in 2016 as part of the Lagos Business School MBA Entrepreneurship Investors Forum. The Forum is a new initiative introduced by students as part of their entrepreneurship course and coordinated by Dr Henrietta Onsuegbuzie, Impact Investing Project Director at the school. During the event, students present business ideas that bridge the gap between economic growth and lagging social development through profitable businesses that solve social problems. Judges are post MBA students who are currently working in this field or have developed businesses that have a social impact.

Impact Investing Series – 10 Ways Schools are Bringing Impact Investing to Campus

Tsinghua University Net Impact event on Impact Investing

This month PRiMEtime is focusing in on the important and increasingly popular topic of impact investing. So far we have looked at what impact investing is and summed up a range of resources on the topic and have looked in depth at the Social Finance Academy, a new programme coming from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Canada.

There are a number of ways that business schools are bringing impact investing to campus. Here we look at ten ways that business schools are specifically engaging students in impact investing on campus.

1. Events that bring impact investing actors onto campus to discuss the state of the industry: The University of St. Gallen in Switzerland organises an Impact Investing and Social Finance Conference. For its first three years the event was held in Sao Paulo and focused on Latin America, but has since moved to the St. Gallen campus in Switzerland. The event brings together impact investing practitioners to meet and discuss with students. The business school also offers students the course Impact Investing 2.0: Building the Impact Economy, a course focused on the fundamental context for impact investing and its requirements, that aims to train students to be able to spot impact investing opportunities.

2. Student engagement through clubs: The Net Impact Club at Tsinghua University in China organised a special session on impact investing for students, inviting experts and practitioners to campus to share their knowledge with students. The University has also recently partnered with UNDP and other leading universities to develop a research agenda around impact investing that will better leverage private investment to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes undertaking research to improve the analytical frameworks, evidence, and policy environment that encourage and guide commercial capital flows in support of the SDGs.

3. Funds for students to invest: The Haas Social Impact Fund at Haas School of Business University of California Berkeley is the largest of the student-managed socially-responsible investments funds with more than USD$2.5m of assets under management. Student fund managers are chosen yearly from the business programmes to evaluate investment opportunities by analysing traditional indicators of business quality and valuation metrics along with environmental, social, and governance policies and practices. Students that participate also have the opportunity to receive a certificate in Social Investing upon graduation.

4. Selecting MBA students to be Impact Investing Fellows: SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University’s Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellows Programme aims to train students for emerging opportunities at the intersection of sustainability and finance, including project finance that addresses climate change, ecosystem services, and poverty alleviation. Through a series of courses, coupled with applied projects, Fellows learn how to invest in, manage, or regulate businesses or projects seeking financial, environmental and social goals.

5. Engaging students in consulting projects with business: Duke Fuqua School of Business’s CASE i3 Fellows are selected second year MBA students who complete coursework in impact investing, support the centre’s research and operations, and complete a consulting project and apprenticeship. The fellows work with a broader set of CASE i3 Associates, often first year students, in teams for their Consulting Programme which pairs students with leading organisations on impact investing projects, including developing impact due diligence guidelines for investors, doing market analysis, and investment landscaping.

6. A selection of elective courses focused on impact investing: Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Canada offers a course on Impact Investing: Social Finance in the 21st This course provides an introduction to the impact investment sector. It describes the evolution of impact investment, the growth of new asset classes, and the opportunities and challenges faced
by investors seeking meaningful impact investment vehicles. Through a combination of readings, discussions, guest lectures, research, a pitch competition and a portfolio allocation project, students will gain deep insight into the different perspectives brought by the impact investor who is concerned with stimulating social and environmental impact while generating financial return.

7. Providing a regional focus: The Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town offers a course on impact investing in Africa aimed at wealth managers, consultants, funders, lawyers and other financial intermediaries looking to gain an understanding of the field. The workshop is (next sentence addresses them) led by a diverse group of leading experts in the field. They have also collaborated with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford to create twelve teaching case studies on impact investment in Africa.

8. Creating MOOCs on impact investing: ESSEC offers a MOOC (‘Massive Open Online Course’ – a type of free online course) about impact investment available in French. The course explores what impact investing is, which companies are involved and what are they investing in, what kinds of solutions are proposed and the ingredients necessary to create a favourable impact investing ecosystem in the north and the south. The latest offering of the course started on September 25th, 2017.

9. Creating new courses aimed at an executive audience: The Fundamentals on Venture Philanthropy and Impact Investing  at ESADE Business & Law School is a new executive education programme aimed at providing managers with effective tools for a high-engagement approach to social investing and grant making across a range of industries. The course combines online learning materials with two days of face-to-face interaction at ESADE’s campus in Barcelona with leading lecturers and practitioners. The programme is taught jointly with the European Venture Philanthropy Association, a network of 2010 investment firms, banks, business schools and other organisations committed to creating positive societal impact.

10. Pushing Impact Investing forward through Research: The Impact Investing Lab at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy focuses on scalable business models that can create economic and social value through innovation in products, services, and processes. The lab acts as a platform and point of reference at a national and international level to support the development of impact investing as a new asset class able to attract public and private capital. It generates research, organises seminars and workshops, and contributes to the spread of a culture and a knowledge of impact investing.

Training the next generation of impact investing professionals through the Social Finance Academy – Smith School of Business

The Centre for Social Impact at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University in Canada educates students and fosters research and advocacy on issues of social impact. The Certificate in Social Impact programme is one of its sought-after programs. The Certificate allows over 500 Smith graduate and undergraduate students to earn a designation alongside their degree. Enabling business students to gain foresight into how social issues are affecting business and society while gaining relevant skills needed across today’s changing landscape is one of the focuses of the Centre and its newest programme, the Social Finance Academy narrows in specifically on the topic of impact investing.

I spoke with Joanna Reynolds, Associate Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University Canada about this programme.

Why is impact investing important?

Increasingly, people in their professional and personal life want to be part of social and environmental solutions. Whether through our purchasing power as customers or in how we make investments. The appetite for social finance is growing across Canada and globally. Examples, such as impact funds and green bonds are two of the many new and innovative ideas gaining momentum in the marketplace, and inspiring organizations and consumers to think differently about our investments.   An example of the growth of impact investing globally is the 2017 Global Impact Investing Network’s annual survey which continues to report increases in the size of the global marketplace at USD 114 billion in managed impact assets across geographies and sectors. Professionals today want to know how to gain the skills that open opportunities for themselves and their organizations in this area.

What is the Social Finance Academy?

The Social Finance Academy is a unique opportunity for professionals to gain insights into a growing global field that now includes Social Responsible Investing, Impact Investing, and Venture Philanthropy. The Academy came about to meet this rising demand for professionals within finance, capital management, public and the not-for-profit sectors to understand emerging opportunities in this space.   Investors involved with foundations, endowment boards, or who manage assets for individual private wealth are increasingly seeking to align their investments with purpose and need advisors who can work with them to create customized solutions; while, not-for-profit organizations are seeing that social finance can enable their public benefit mission to thrive; and, governments recognize that social finance and social enterprise can meet multiple public policy objectives. Professionals across these sectors are seeking to enhance their skills sets and distinguish how they add can value.

Why offer a programme specifically focused on social finance?

Currently, programs like the Social Finance Academy are rare opportunities to learn from the trailblazers who have shaped the landscape and marketplace in Canada and globally.   As the appetite for social finance and impact investing continues to grow, the professional skill set requires more technical knowledge. Such as skills found in traditional finance and capital management now need to be combined with a rigor of impact measurement. Additionally, social finance often brings together people from across the public, private, and community sectors. Therefore, understanding public policy levers, community missions, and diverse investor values are essential contexts to creating a social finance solution. Educational programs such as these aimed at cross-sector collaboration with a focus on social outcomes are exceptional opportunities.

What is the content of the Social Finance Academy?

The Academy is a two-day program offered this November in downtown Toronto. Participants gain practical knowledge to apply social finance tools within their organizations to transform outcomes and investment models while achieving measurable financial returns and valuable social impacts. Sessions are led by professionals from the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, BCorp Canada, City of Toronto, Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, Purpose Capital, Centre for Social Innovation, CoPower and top faculty from the Smith School of Business. Smith faculty and session leaders use a combination of insightful teaching, breakout sessions, and tutorials to examine case examples that provide participants with a local and global understanding of the marketplace. Session topics include outcomes finance, impact measurement, social procurement, solutions finance, community bonds, insights into public policy levers, and designing decision frameworks that guide social finance strategy.

What has been the response?

The response has been excellent. The 2016 inaugural session had a wait list of over 50 people. A great example of how institutions are taking advantage by sending their teams to engage and learn is our continued partnership with the Ontario Government who has sponsored ten Social Finance Fellows across departments to earn a full Certificate in Social Impact. By earning a Certificate, participants take a second program call Leading with Impact that help them gain the skills to affect change from within an organization. Participants then work individually or in teams on an applied project. The two in-class programs combined with the applied project has been well received as a way for professionals to bring value into their organization. Bmeaningful, Canada’s leading go to platform for career’s with impact is our promotional partner.

What’s next for the Social Finance Academy?

The Social Finance Academy is part of the Certificate in Social Impact for Professionals.  We expect to continue to partner with leading organizations to offer the Academy in subsequent years as the field continues to evolve.

Any tips for other schools looking to engage in this topic.

Impact investing and social finance present exciting opportunities for business school students to learn about an emerging field that crosses geographies and sectors. From mainstream capital markets through to development and community finance, this field is active, and demand is growing. A tip for other schools is to articulate the demand for social impact education across sectors and to identify the unique skill sets required by professionals to succeed in their areas of expertise. No longer are social impact considerations on the fringe for business success. It is now imperative for the resiliency of business and society as a whole to be part of the solutions that our world is grappling with.   Therefore, business education that is offered at the Smith School of Business is critical to developing outstanding leaders in business and society.

 

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:

 

 

Engaging Students in Impact Investing – SDA Bocconi School of Management

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-05-23Interest in impact investing is rising, particularly among the future generation of entrepreneurs, professionals and investors. The number of MBA students that are interested in pursuing a career within impact investing is higher than what business schools imagine. Schools are starting to explore this interest, developing a range of innovative initiatives and opportunities for students to further engage in this topic.

One such initiative is the Impact Investing Lab at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy. I spoke with Veronica Vecchi, the Head of the Impact Investing Lab, Manuela Brusoni, professor at SDA Bocconi, responsible for coordinating all the sustainability initiatives of SDA Bocconi and PRME liaison, and Francesca Casalini, in charge of managing the MIINT competition.

Introduce the Impact Investing Lab and how it came about

The Impact Investing Lab was launched in 2013 by SDA Bocconi School of Management together with Oltre Venture, the first impact investing fund manager in Italy and also one of the first at European level, with the aim to become a reference point at national and international level to support the development of impact investing as a new investment approach, able to attract public and private capital.

Impact investing, according to SDA Bocconi, means new entrepreneurial solutions, with scalable business models, that can create economic and social value through innovation in products, services and processes. In mature economies like Italy and Europe, these enterprises mainly operate in segments traditionally or potentially served by the welfare state system, i.e. healthcare, education housing and employment, serving the society at large and not necessarily its most deprived and poor segments, which remain a core focus of governments, supranational organisations, foundations, charities and social enterprises.

What are the key features of the programme?

The Impact Investing Lab is a platform whose mission is to generate knowledge, share experiences and bridge students, investors, entrepreneurs and policy makers, in order to create a vibrant community active in the impact investing field.

Engaging Students in Impact Investing – SDA Bocconi School of Management

The Lab leverages SDA Bocconi’s strengths and cross-cutting expertise in finance, entrepreneurship and public management and policy to offer:

  1. Seminar series and events aimed at building awareness and spreading best practice among professionals
  2. Action research aimed at supporting private clients as well as the public sector to implement impactful strategies. For example we have position papers on public private collaborations for social impact creation and impact investing more generally.I
  3. Elective courses and online training (MOOC) to bring social innovation and impact investing closer to undergraduate, graduate, MBA and masters’ students

What have been some of the challenges?  

But despite the increasing interest, it is still the field of a few. This is particularly true in Italy, where impact investing is a small niche and the boundaries between it and the traditional social sector are blurred. For this reason, it has been quite challenging to launch dedicated executive education programmes as well as to attract sponsorships to scale up the activities of the Lab.

Successes?  

Last year, SDA Bocconi joined the international competition MIINT – MBA Impact Investing and Network Training, organised by the impact investing firm Bridges Ventures. This initiative was a great opportunity not only to bring impact investing closer to MBA students but also to create an vibrant network of like-minded business schools and future professionals active in the impact investing field. At local level, the MIINT was also a pivotal opportunity to promote impact investing by creating meaningful links among our students, the business associations, entrepreneurs and investors.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

As schools of management, we want to train tomorrow’s leaders that strive to generate a positive impact on society and impact investing can actually usher a new approach and mindset towards promoting innovation for the social good. However, to promote impact investing requires a strong institutional commitment, a mid-term time horizon and a coordination among different initiatives at the business school level (training, research, extracurricular, startup competition, …).

What’s next for the initiative?

We are looking to increase the number of international partnerships, leveraging also our link with the European Venture Philanthropy Association, the Academy of Business in Society and the Global impact Investing Network. We’d like to streghthen the link among all our initiatives dedicated to social entrepreneurship and sustainable finance and convey an increasing number of social impact startups to our startup incubator speedMIup. We are also planning to reinforce the weight of impact investing into our curricula, starting from our MBA programmes portfolio

%d bloggers like this: