Harvard Business School » Social Enterprise » Impact » Impact Investing

Impact

Impact Investing

The practice of investment is changing. A rapidly growing share of assets around the globe are making investment choices targeting not just return, but also sustainability, values-alignment or impact.

More than $23 trillion assets globally are subject to a non-traditional (environmental, social, and governance and impact screen), including over 25% of all professionally managed assets. This approach is growing, for example, in 2018, Larry Fink, CEO of the world’s largest asset management firm, Black Rock, wrote in a public letter: “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

This statement reflects an increasingly broad-based sentiment that asset owners should include ESG and impact criteria in their investment process. Most large asset managers (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital, TPG, Blackrock, State Street) are establishing sustainability, “ESG” or impact investment practices, and developing products to meet the demands of capital owners, including pension funds, endowments, and family offices.

Through teaching, research and engagement with practitioners and alumni, we are critically examining questions such as: What is the purpose of investing for impact? What return profiles are realistic? How do different strategies actually create social value? How is and how should social value be defined and measured? What does it mean in practice to be an impact investor?

An active community of faculty are teaching on and researching these topics from various perspectives, including Shawn ColeVikram GandhiMichael ChuKash RanganGeorge SerafeimJulie Battilana, and others. As importantly, our alumni are shaping, accelerating and leading investing for impact across the globe – from BlackRock, to Root Capital, to Social Finance, to Omidyar Network to Wellington Asset Management.

Impact CoLab

The Impact CoLaboratory (Impact CoLab) is a multi-faculty effort to advance knowledge and practice in the rapidly growing field of investing for impact and scaling for impact.

For MBA Students

Sustainable Investing

This second-year MBA elective course focuses on how and whether investors should incorporate what have traditionally been considered “non-financial” criteria in their decisions: for example, climate risk, environmental sustainability, minority representation on boards, and even the potential to create social good.

Investing for Impact Club

Over 100 students are engaged in the student-run, student-led club. From speaker series to career treks to the MINT Competition, MBA students are dynamically exploring and engaging investing for impact.

For Faculty

Course Note on Investing in the 21st Century: Return, Risk and Impact

An overview of a finance course offering comprehensive coverage of the investing for impact market including, private and public market strategies.

Impact Investing Case Listing (pdf)

HBS Faculty have written more than 25 cases on this topic that explore challenging problems in finance and investment, financial management, leadership, entrepreneurship, and social enterprise.

Featured Research

Acumen: Managing Towards Impact in 2018

| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION

Background Note: Introduction to Investing for Impact

| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION

Background Note: Managing and Measuring Impact

By: Shawn Cole, Vikram S. Gandhi & Caitlin Reimers Brumme
| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION

Blue Haven Initiative

| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION

Additional Research

Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality

By: Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim & Aaron Yoon
| ACCOUNTING REVIEW ARTICLE

State Street—The Development and Growth of SHE

| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION

Pi Investments

By: Vikram Gandhi & Tony L. He
| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION

DBL Partners: Double Bottom Line Venture Capital

By: Shawn Cole, Mark Kramer & Tony L. He
| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION

Dan Gilbert, Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox?

| CASE | HBS CASE COLLECTION