Kodjo Adovor SOM ’18, Student Perspective on ICF Case Study Development Project
Jenny Chan ’18 shares Impact on Record with Yale’s International Center for Finance (ICF)
Kristina Whyte ’18 explains what led her and two other MBA for Executives students to launch “Impact on Record,” a new podcast that explores the risks, challenges, and realities of impact investing.
“Impact first” or Intentional and Measurable Impact?
It is said that “opportunity knows no zip code”. As we all know, this is not the reality. Among other things, Impact investing looks to give everyone an opportunity. To invest where it’s most needed instead of just for returns.
For me Impact investing’s definition is embedded in the results that it produces and the intentionality of those results.
One of the examples I use is this:
Assuming an investor has $10million and has a choice of investing in Greenwich CT or in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn for a target risk-adjusted return of 15-20% return on investment in both places.
In the Impact investing paradigm, if we can show that our investment in Bed-Stuy lifts more people up and gives more people opportunities that they didn’t have before to have a “seat at the table”, then it’s an extrinsically better investment than the Greenwich CT investment.
A couple of weeks ago, I was very disappointed after a conversation with one of the “thought leaders” in the impact investing space. I presented an impact project to him looking for feedback before I start pitching to potential investors. His response to my pitch was that “this is not Impact first, it seems like the impact is a product of your investment”.
I was astonished. This is clearly an opportunity that would lift several people up and give them opportunities they never had. Who cares if it’s “impact first”? It is intentional and measurable impact.
PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) and Leadership
Over $60 TRILLION in assets under management, or 50% of the total global institutional assets base, are currently being managed by PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) signatories according to PRI’s website www.unpri.org.
How is it then that some market participants and even employees at some of the signatory organizations cannot articulate what ESG stands for (Environmental, Social, and Governance factors BTW), let alone how it applies to their organizations?
That is not to detract at all from the good work that PRI has done to elevate the conversation globally and bring key stakeholders to the table. However, now that they are there who will hold them to account? PRI by definition is not an enforcement organization. Signatories who are Asset Owners make up 20% of the total number of signatories. Are they, in their minority, expected to oversee the rest? While they might be in the best position to do so, given the resources necessary it would seem an unreasonable expectation. I think this creates an opportunity for a new and independent perspective that is able to hold a spotlight to those signatories who have embraced the principles with a sense of urgency and respective commitment. At the very least, the strongest leaders will rise to the top and leave a path where others can choose to follow. But who will take on this challenge?
Reflections and Impact of the 2016 Election
On January 20, 2017, we said goodbye to President Obama, and the catalyst of change he embodied over the last eight years. Obama’s legacy is clearly reflected in the reforms he has made in healthcare, education, unemployment, the economy and so much more. The 20th also marked a day of change for all Americans, whether we agree with President Trump or not, the idea of “change” that he spoke of was very different from Obama’s.
Weeks into this new administration, I can’t help but have apprehensions of the next days, months or even years in Trump’s America. I question what it means to be “American” and whether or not I fit the mold that Trump speaks of. The America we live in today is going to look very different in a few years but will it reflect progress or regression.
The challenge now is how do we ensure that the progress we have made over the last eight years does not become a fleeting memory with a swift stroke of a pen in one of Trump’s executive orders?
Now more than ever we must protect the rights of every American and stand together united. What will follow over the next four years is unknown but the election of Trump, a self-proclaimed billionaire, real estate mogul, reality TV star and now leader of the free world should awaken the “activist” in all of us to get involved, be engaged and keep fighting, so that our impact can be HUGE!