Socially Responsible Investing. Impact metrics. Pay-for-Success. Social VC. Triple bottom line.
Overhearing these phrases in daily conversations highlights the evolution of impact investing over the years – from being the shy awkward kid in the corner to the edgy, trendy, fashion-forward one.
At Wharton, we are excited to announce the transformation of the Wharton Social Venture Fund (WSVF) into the Wharton Impact Investing Partners (WIIP).
This development marks both a commitment to our traditional model -- sourcing, conducting diligence, and investing in early-stage companies pursuing both financial and social returns -- as well as to more broadly embrace and advance the impact investing sector.
Meeting an Evolving Market
Over the past few years, the impact investing industry has evolved from a niche focus of socially-conscious investors to a more mainstream topic. With roots in Socially Responsible Investing, impact investing has spanned all other asset classes -- even spurring financial innovations such Social Impact Bonds.
We believe the realignment of our organization reflects both the growing diversity of the impact investing space and the depth of interests among our members. The undeniable enthusiasm for the sector and diversity of industry supporters is reflected among the students in our organization -- one of the most selective among Wharton’s many clubs.
With over 60 first- and second-year MBAs and undergrads, our members are deeply committed to learning about and advancing the many forms of impact investing. This commitment comes despite a vast array of professional interests, which range from venture capital to investment banking to entrepreneurship to philanthropy.
A History of MBA Leadership
We are proud to pick up the mantle of leadership set by Wharton students of years past and the efforts of our supporters at the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. Looking back, some of our key accomplishments include:
- 2008: Origins as a student-led advisory group, with projects for Acumen and SJF Ventures
- 2012: First time competing in the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) Competition at Wharton. This led to the first of four equity investments made through this channel.
- 2015: Partnered with OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform, to become their first Social Impact Channel Partner. Led to equity investment of $250k in Revolution Credit.
- 2016: Launch of new Wharton Impact Investing Partners website.
Our program has provided an extraordinary opportunity to students to learn about the field of social venture capital while supporting highly impactful companies.
While our organization has historically been a leader among MBA programs, we recognize the need to evolve alongside the impact investing market and capture the energy of our large and growing membership.
Expanding our Mandate
This announcement precedes an expansion of our mandate, both on- and off-campus. To that end, we plan to launch WIIPSmart, our very own thought leadership platform aimed to expand the resources available to MBAs pursuing the various areas of impact investing. Through WIIPSmart we will cover a variety of impact investing-related topics, including sharing our investment process at WIIP, conducting news and market analyses, exploring industry best practices, and engaging with industry practitioners.
We believe this evolution will allow us to more effectively promote our mission: to foster interest in impact investing, to develop future leaders in the sector, and to be an academic and practical resource for others.
We hope to leverage our collective passion to help build broad-based, financially sustainable and impactful solutions of all types for our world’s social challenges.
“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela
By Ricardo Salinas and Jennifer Wong