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Investing in Social Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets: SE Summer Fellow Nikki Philip (MBA 2023)

By: Nikki Philip 18 Jul 2022

The HBS Summer Fellows Program enables students to apply their classroom training as they explore career opportunities in roles or regions where compensation is generally lower than the traditional MBA level. This summer, we are connecting with some of our 61 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, who are working around the world to develop skills and knowledge while having significant responsibility and high impact.

What are you working on this summer?

I am working for Beyond Capital, a social impact venture capital fund that invests in social enterprises in East Africa and India. Beyond Capital is women-led and focused on early-stage companies providing essential goods and services in underserved markets. I am doing portfolio support for the companies Beyond Capital has invested in, which includes impact measurement, strategy development, and implementation support. I am also working on sourcing and due diligence as the fund continues to deploy capital.

Why did you choose this internship for the summer?

Before HBS I worked for Lwala Community Alliance and the NFL. Lwala is a non-profit global health innovator providing community-led healthcare, education, and economic services in rural western Kenya. While working there I designed and implemented new programs, managed monitoring and evaluation, and raised money from institutional funders and individual donors. At the NFL, I was responsible for the mental, physical, financial, and social wellbeing of active and retired athletes, their coaches, and their families. Both of these were on-the-ground, operating roles. I loved being an operator, but was curious about the funding side of social impact work. I decided to find an internship in social impact investing in order to gain exposure to a different segment of the space.

I chose Beyond Capital specifically because their portfolio leans heavily towards companies in East Africa and healthcare, both places where I could add value. I was drawn to their focus on being founder-friendly, measuring impact rigorously, and investing in crucial goods and services in emerging markets. I was also excited about working for an innovative fund that is pioneering new venture techniques such as offering founders ownership in the fund, which gives them a share in the fund’s profits.

What are your goals for this summer?

I have two goals for the summer: to learn as much as possible and to make a positive impact. First, I want to contribute to Beyond Capital’s mission to fund and nurture early-stage social enterprises serving essential needs for consumers in underserved markets. In addition, I want to learn about venture capital, an area where I have little experience. If investing ends up being a good fit, I can pursue it as a career path after school. If it doesn’t, I will have learned as much as possible about social impact funding, which will make me an even better operator.

How has your MBA skillset prepared you to be successful in this role?

I came to HBS with very little traditional business experience and knowledge, so the first-year curriculum was crucial for my success in this role. I have been combining my social impact experience with my MBA skillset to support our portfolio companies and measure our financial and social returns. I would not have known how to read financial statements, evaluate business models, structure incentive systems, and so much more if it weren’t for the skills that I have learned in the MBA program so far.

How has the summer influenced your thinking on future involvement in social enterprise?

I am as committed as ever to working in social enterprise in the future. The summer has opened some interesting questions around the future of social impact funding and which part of the work is best for me specifically. I am only a few weeks into my internship, but I am excited to continue learning about innovative venture funding for social enterprise and ways to create impact through investing.

How can someone learn more about your organization?

Website: https://www.beyondcapitalfund.org/