News

Announcing WIIP: a new beginning for impact investing at Wharton

 A Wharton MBA presenting then-WSVF's impact investing strategy in San Francisco in 2013

A Wharton MBA presenting then-WSVF's impact investing strategy in San Francisco in 2013

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

 

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

This Saturday, April 18, the fourth annual MIINT competition—an international training program for business students interested in impact investing—welcomed over 100 participants, judges and guests to the University of Pennsylvania campus for the most well-attended finals to date.

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:

  • 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 from the Moelis Family Foundation, pending the foundation’s independent review.
  • 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 from Liquidnet for Good, pending the organizations independent review.
  • 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.

“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.

“Our clients have expressed 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 Merrill Lynch is a proud sponsor of the 2015/2016 competition.

Student teams, comprised of approximately 200 MBA students, have been participating throughout the academic year, culminating at the final competition this 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.

About the Wharton Social Venture Fund

Part of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the Wharton Social Venture Fund is a student-led group that sources and conducts diligence on early and expansion-stage companies with venture-gradegrowth potential and intentional, measurable social impact. The WSVF seeks for-profit, early-stage companies focused on social impact in the education, energy, financial services, food & nutrition, and healthcare sectors. For more information, please visit www.whartonsocialventurefellows.org.

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, please visit socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu.