Student Learning Comes to Life in Impact Investing Course

May 18, 2021

G&EE Impact Investing course promo flyer

The newest course in the the Global & Experiential Education (G&EE) Business & Society Series, Impact Investing provided an opportunity for students to analyze and make recommendations for designing, financing and operating realworld impact investment projects around the globe. Under the mentorship of Dr. John Forrer, associate research professor of Strategic Management & Public Policy and director of the Institute for Corporate Responsibility at the GW School of Business, student teams worked to develop strategic recommendations to three distinct impact investment partners.

DC Green Bank is a financial institution that mobilizes private investment to provide gap financing, remove up-front costs, and maximize the impact of public investments in carbon neutrality, climate resiliency, and inclusive economic and job growth. A student team developed a sustainable impact investment plan to help DC Green Bank address stormwater resilience in the district. The students considered green infrastructure development, stormwater retention credits, and other pertinent goals when developing their recommendations for attracting investors and creating potential project plans to address stormwater resilience. Students also considered how the investments and plan will help meet the District’s stormwater goal, increase profitability for DC Green Bank, assist in job creation, impact the community, and align with the inclusive prosperity value.

VC Growth Partners (VCGP) is a Singapore-based family office that invests in and operates companies in Consumer Brands, Tech, and Business Services companies with a Social Impact focus. Two student teams worked with VCGP to build a business case for the purchase and installation of a beverage bottling production line in The Philippines to support international expansion of their social venture Bayani Brew. The teams analyzed manufacturing ROI and compared financing options. Dr. Forrer noted the mutually beneficial nature of this partnership, “Working with VCGP provided a unique learning experience for the students. They developed a detailed CAPEX analysis for expansion of the Bayani Brew product-line in The Philippines and identified numerous positive social impacts that could be created and linked to future investment. The research project provided a perfect test-case for assessing impact investment opportunities.”

Uganda-based advisory firm Amani Partners provides bespoke professional services to family firms, corporates, and HNIs. A student team analyzed risk within an impact fund the firm is currently designing. Managing Partner at Amani Partners and GWSB Alumnus John Brittell (MBA ‘12) found great value in engaging a student team, “We had a solid team of professional students working on a complex challenge in the investment industry. They put forward an analysis that clearly laid out the risks and options for our management team to consider. In the end, we received vetted information which assisted our team in making valuable allocation decisions for our fund.”

In reflecting on the semester, Dr. John Forrer stated, “Integrating a range of distinct real-world impact investment projects into the curriculum enabled students to 'get into the weeds' and recognize the unique challenges and opportunities impact investors face every day. The time and assistance provided by the partners added an invaluable context that enhanced students' understanding of what impact investing is really like in the field."

Students interested in learning about future Business & Society Series offerings are encouraged to follow G&EE on social media for new course announcements and updates.

Faculty interested in teaching in the Business & Society Series can email Sarah LaRosa, assistant director of Global & Experiential Education at the GW School of Business, at [email protected] to discuss the course development process.