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.

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.