Fortune: “Impact Investing Takes Hold on Business School Campuses”

MBAs participating in a student discussion panel during the 2016 MIINT competition.

MBAs participating in a student discussion panel during the 2016 MIINT competition.

Originally published on socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu on July 12, 2016.

This April, Wharton was honored to host the fifth annual MIINT competition at the University of Pennsylvania's campus, where hundreds of students came to network, learn, and present their best impact investment pitches.

Impact investing sits squarely at the intersection of Wharton’s renowned financial expertise and its commitment to social impact. As interest in the industry has grown, so too has the demand for impact investing courses, programs, and activities here at Wharton, among both students and alumni.

The movement recently made its way to Fortunein a feature that highlights the growing popularity among business schools, with perspectives from WSII’s Senior Director for Impact Investing, Jacob Gray.

“The likes of Harvard and Wharton are teaching investing for both financial and social benefit.
…Indeed, in the past few years the idea of garnering both financial andl 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.
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.”

The piece gives the example of the Wharton Impact Investment Partners (formerly WSVF), a student-run fund created six years ago. Currently more than 60 students are involved in what Gray says has grown into the most “popular and selective” club on Wharton’s campus.

“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.”

Read the full feature on Fortune.com

To learn more about the MIINT program, watch the video below.