Community Partner Spotlight – Bridges Ventures Offers Hands-on Impact Investing

Bridges Ventures

At ten leading business schools across the country, students are investing in impact.

Students get the unique opportunity to try their hand at investing thanks to an innovative program called MBA Impact Investing Network & Training, or MIINT.

A program run by Bridges IMPACT+, the advisory arm of fund manager Bridges Ventures, MIINT is an experiential program that educates the impact sphere’s future leaders.  MIINT gives students the opportunity to think like an impact investor.  With guidance from MIINT faculty, composed of leaders at Bridges Ventures, the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, and JK&B Capital, and guest lecturers, students at 10 of the country’s top business schools learn to develop an investment strategy, consider impact, and source and diligence investments. Ultimately, they present to an investment committee for a potential angel investment of $50,000.

MIINT fills a gap in traditional MBA course offerings.  As evidenced by the rapid expansion of the Global Social Venture Competition, headquartered at Haas, social entrepreneurship is energizing campuses across the world. Few business schools, however, teach classes on impact investing, and fewer still offer hands-on learning opportunities. That’s why a program like MIINT is so crucial to students.

Maya Tobias, co-founder Haas Impact Investing Network

Maya Tobias, co-founder Haas Impact Investing Network

“Haas is already known for its strong social impact focus—we have centers and clubs for social enterprise, non-profit, and CSR—but impact investing has been a missing link in our school. It’s a burgeoning and evolving field and it’s important to have Haas’ path bending leaders at the forefront of helping to shape this space,” says Haas MBA Maya Tobias. Maya, along with Tammy Guo and Karthik Suryanarayanan, is one of the co-founders of the Haas Impact Investing Network (HIIN), a program at Haas run in partnership with Bridges Ventures.

“We chose to start HIIN to ensure that students at Haas were exposed to the exciting program that Bridges began two years ago,” notes Maya, referring to MIINT. The club received an enthusiastic response to their application when the program commenced in September. A growing number of prospective students are inquiring about the space and HIIN aims to further solidify Haas as a place for socially minded and innovative leaders.

MIINT is also valuable on a wider scale.

Haas MBAs sit in a global video conference training hosted by Bridges Ventures

Haas MBAs sit in a national video conference training hosted by Bridges Ventures

Educating next generation impact leaders through MIINT is valuable not only for Bridges but for the sector as a whole. As more mainstream investors channel capital into the nascent impact investing sector, the more the sector will need human capital to source investments and measure their impact.

Bridges hopes that MIINT will encourage MBA students to question traditional businesses and nonprofit models and explore better ways to achieve impact.  Bridges dismisses as a myth the claim that business results are incompatible with social results.

Effective business models are grounded in the finding of a solution to a problem.  Bridges recommends that MBA students look at today’s most pressing problems – limited access to healthcare and education, threats posted by climate change – and ask if there is a business approach to effectively addressing these problems.

Established in the U.K. in 2002, Bridges Ventures uses an impact-driven investment approach to create superior returns for both investors and society. It manages over $500M across three fund types: Sustainable Growth Funds, Sustainable Property Funds, and Social Sector funds. Bridges IMPACT+ also offers practitioner-led advisory services to a range of clients including NGOs, and produces annual thought leadership pieces.


Community Partners Spotlght – Northern California Grantmakers

Northern California Grantmakers (NCG)

For 30 years, Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) has supported philanthropists’ efforts to build relationships and share experiences to increase the impact of organized philanthropy. More than 170 grantmaking foundations and corporations make up NCG. Members have a combined annual grantmaking portfolio of over $3 billion, dispersed to charitable organizations in every funding area and impacting millions of lives.

NCG is a center of learning for practitioners interested in improving their effectiveness through better knowledge of social change issues, best practices in grantmaking, peer funders and grantees.

“We continue to foster a storytelling culture that highlights organized philanthropy’s unique role in communities. Our Snapshots of Philanthropy collection showcases the many ways our members invest in communities, whether through sustaining, leveraging, or partnering on key initiatives with local organizations or through public-private partnerships.” explains Colin Lacon, President and CEO of NCG.

The Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership has a strong connection with NCG, whose president, Colin Lacon, is co-instructor of the undergraduate experiential course Cal Strategic Philanthropy: Real Money, Real Impact. In the course, students identify and assess high-impact nonprofits and award $10,000 in funding. The funds are provided by the Learning by Giving Foundation (Doris Buffett) and the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund.

“Our connection with the Center is directly aligned with our mission to promote philanthropy, invest for social impact and to engage the next generation in this work. The Center provides a strong network, offers a questioning mindset, and helps broaden the philanthropic community. There is great value in this for NCG, which is asking how to engage, mine, and bring to the forefront these new ideas. This generation is asking new questions, taking bold action, and I believe will change the face of effective philanthropy.” says Colin Lacon.

Alumni Spotlight – Liz Rockett

Liz RockettName: Liz Rockett, MBA, MPH ‘10
Role: Director, Health Practice
Organization: Imprint Capital Advisors

Imprint Capital Advisors builds and manages mission-driven investment portfolios for institutional investors, helping clients successfully develop, execute, and maintain investment strategies that leverage capital for social impact. Their steady growth across sectors and asset classes is fueled, in part, by Liz Rocket’s leadership of the Health Practice. Impact investing in healthcare is more than a ‘good thing to do’ – the impact lens of better health at lower costs is increasingly a smart investment thesis for healthcare investors.

On how I got to where I am today:

Before Haas, I was a product manager for hospitals and clinical IT. I expected to do something similar after graduation – working with a startup or within strategy of a larger company to launch new products. But Haas introduced me to so many people, so many new ideas, I’ve found myself drawn to helping others do what they love. To me, a big part of investing is just that – support people who are doing what they love, help them achieve greater impact and returns than they could alone. Now I work with clients to identify and pursue investment opportunities that improve health, improve the quality of care and reduce care costs. Fortunately for the MBA-wired portion of my brain, the overlap between the for-profit industry and the social sector in healthcare is richer today than at any time in the recent past.

My involvement with the Center for Nonprofit & Public Leadership:

I was in Social Sector Solutions, and had the good fortune to be a Board Fellow at the YMCA of the East Bay. The luminaries who came in through the Schwab Charitable Philanthropy Speaker Series – leadership of Whole Foods, the X Prize, leading foundations – were some of the most thought-provoking events I attended at Haas. What’s most amazing to me about the work of the Center is that my experience is typical. Life at Haas involves thinking about social impact. It’s in the water, and that’s a tremendous asset for the school.

Advice for current Haas students:

By virtue of the innovations you’re likely to pursue, you may encounter dismissive or skeptical people. Take that challenge head-on, Haasies. Advocate for your point of view and do amazing work. If the skeptics turn out to be right, you’ll gain knowledge needed to get back in the lab and cook up the next thing. Change the world. It’s a hot mess, and it needs changing.