INSEAD MBA Team Wins Impact Investing Competition

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 12am

A cadre of MBA students from INSEAD could bag US$50,000 to fund a healthcare start-up after winning an impact investing competition at the Wharton School.

The annual shindig, now in its sixth year, highlights the explosion in interest in social impact careers among MBA students, who have been shown to prefer ‘impact’ over fat pay checks.

The team from INSEAD’s Singapore campus presented a solution to improve online medical education in India. There were two runners-up: Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, which presented a behavioral health virtual platform; and the Fletcher School at Tufts University, which presented an online marketplace fueling innovations in agricultural finance. The top three teams secured a total of US$100,000 in potential investment for their ventures, pending review.

Social impact at the center of 6-month program

The competition is the culmination of the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training program (MIINT), an experiential lab designed to give business students a hands-on education in impact investing — investing that seeks measurable social and environmental benefits.

It is cosponsored by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, an eponymous center within the business school, and Bridges Fund Management, a firm dedicated to sustainable and impact investing.

Through six months of training, the program has been teaching its 600 participants how to think like an impact investor. Students are also asked to define an investment thesis, source investments, conduct diligence and present their recommendations to a panel of experienced impact investors.

At the end of the MIINT program, teams present real-life impact investing opportunities to a team of expert judges. Other finalists this year include teams from the Schulich School of Business, Oxford Saïd and MIT Sloan. They presented companies focused on innovating health, early childhood education technology, and employment recruitment, respectively. A team from Michigan Ross won a separate award for ‘Best Diligence’.

Growing interest among MBA students

Interest in impact investing has grown, particularly among the millennial generation — marketing jargon most often used to reference those between the ages of 20 and 30.

“We see the MIINT as an important way to satisfy growing, global student demand for impact investing training opportunities, and to build a pipeline of investment talent,” said Nick Ashburn, senior director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.

“Impact investing is still an emerging practice without a lot of natural entry points into the industry or networks for students,” said Brian Trelstad, a partner at Bridges Fund Management. “We recognized that business schools might find it difficult to meet the growing interest in impact investing among MBA students, so we created the MIINT as a new kind of course: One that is experiential, and one that is inherently collaborative, by working across campuses around the world.”


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