Impact Investing Initiative

The WSII Impact Investing Initiative serves as an intellectual hub for impact investing theory and practical training, providing Wharton students the opportunity to gain knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of impact investing.

In recent years, the impact investing sector has attracted tremendous attention.

Impact investing is the practice of investing in companies that seek to generate both profits and meaningful social change. By analyzing economic and social returns through a variety of impact investing projects, the Impact Investing Initiative explores how investment strategies for companies and funds can both create profit and enhance the public good.

This multifaceted program advances the science of impact investing by training students—the next generation of investors—to combine financial expertise with an understanding of social problems, change strategies, and impact evaluation.

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This Initiative has four key components:

Wharton Impact Investment Thought Gathering

The Wharton Impact Investing Conference welcomes prominent social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and thought leaders in the Impact Investing space.

Despite the buzz around this nascent industry, impact investing is still generally considered a niche activity for specialized players. Almost six years after the term “impact investing” was coined, we take an in-depth look at some of the industry’s successes and lessons learned to date, as well as remaining barriers and challenges.

With a goal to expand the field and spur genuine dialogue, the impact investing conference will highlight leading academic research and presentations from investors.

As the host of this event, Wharton represents the ideal venue to spur meaningful dialogue around the intersections between business, finance, and social impact.

Wharton Social Venture Fund

The Wharton Social Venture Fund (WSVF), a student-run group housed under the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, seeks to co-invest and partner with angel and venture capital investors focusing on a triple bottom line investment philosophy.

After an intensive year of impact investment training sessions and research projects, second-year MBA students become project leaders and associates, charged with managing project workflow and knowledge transfer between WSVF entrepreneurs and social VC partners.

Founded in 2007, The WSVF portfolio includes strategy and investment review projects, as well as co-investment initiatives. Most recently, WSVF won the 2013 MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) competition with the education start-up LearnSprout.

MBA Impact Investing Network & Training Program (MIINT)

Co-produced by WSII and Bridges Ventures, MIINT provides students with impact investment training and first-hand experience with the impact investment process.

In this annual program and competition, MIINT engages a network of student-led MBA teams at prominent business schools across the country in an impact investing competition.

Approximately 200 students from 10 business schools, including Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Ross School of Business, Kellogg, Haas School of Business Booth, Goizueta and University of Utah, source and conduct diligence on early stage impact investments, and present them to an Investment Committee of leading venture capital professionals.

The final stage of the competition will bring students to Wharton to present their analysis to the Investment Committee, for a potential investment of $50,000. This final round is anticipated to overlap with the Impact Investing Conference in March 2014.

Social Impact in the Wharton Business Plan Competition

The Wharton Business Plan Competition (WBPC) is an annual platform for student entrepreneurs to develop and launch their businesses, and compete for more than $115,000 in cash and prizes.

This year’s competition includes the addition of a new $10,000 social impact prize, accessible to any business plan incorporating social impact.

Started in 1998 by the Wharton Entrepreneurship Club, WBPC is a global leader in university-run business plan competitions. The competition is open to all students at the University of Pennsylvania, and since its inception, has launched a number of successful companies – including the boutique eyewear company Warby Parker and Saleroads, the nation’s leading B2B appointment and lead generation provider.

The competition is comprised of three rounds conducted over the course of one school year. Each student team participates in WBPC’s comprehensive networking platform, which connects top business leaders as mentors and judges offering guidance and feedback throughout the process.

Impact Investing Advisory Council

WSII relies on an Impact Investing Advisory Council comprised of dedicated professionals and thought leaders in the Impact Investing space. This council provides expert insight on impact investing focus areas and helps to shape the goals and direction of this effort.

Council members include:

  • Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker
  • Suzanne Biegel, Catalyst at Large; Senior Advisor, ClearlySo; Vice Chair, Confluence Philanthropy
  • Chris Geczy, The Wharton School
  • Jacob Gray, Wharton Social Impact Initiative
  • Bart Houlihan, B Laboratories
  • Katherine Klein, The Wharton School
  • Ron Moelis, LM Partners
  • Wayne Silby, Calvert Foundation
  • Brian Trelstad, Bridges Ventures.
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