Looking to tackle poverty through finance?

By Jessie Hogan, Gabelli School of Business 2nd year MBA student and President of Graduate Net Impact chapter.


On Wednesday, October 5, the Graduate Net Impact chapter hosted an Impact Investing workshop in partnership with NY+Acumen. This is a volunteer-led, local chapter under the Acumen Fund, which invests in companies, leaders and ideas to change the way the world tackles poverty. Led by Liz Mooney, Manager at Endeavor, and Will Reising, Associate at The Carlyle Group’s AlpInvest Partners, the workshop provided insight into Acumen’s business model and offered participants the chance to conduct their own analysis on an actual impact investing case.

Student attendees learned about Acumen’s commitment to changing the way the world tackles poverty. Specifically, the organization seeks out entrepreneurs whose game-changing innovations are transforming the lives of the poor and invests patient capital in them. This term is critically important, as it is Acumen’s approach to investing. While traditional venture capital firms focus on maximizing financial return and traditional philanthropy seeks to maximize social impact, patient capital combines the best of both of these worlds. It blends social and financial returns for long-term social impact. This impact is leveraged by scaling successful, game-changing companies and recycling the returns from payback into new investments.

Participants had a chance to test their own hands at impact investment analysis using an Acumen case from the past: Ziqitza Healthcare Limited in Mumbai, India. Students were given a background on the company and its founders, including the pricing structure, demand, revenues, and competition. Split into groups, they assessed Ziqitza’s social performance across breadth, or the number of lives reached and jobs created; depth, or improvement in household well-being; and focus on the poor, or those being served living on $2-$4/day. With this analysis, students then determined whether or not they would ultimately invest in the company. While the majority of those in attendance voted to not invest, the group was surprised to learn that, in fact, Acumen had ultimately made the investment. It turned out to be a highly engaging, educational, and entertaining evening for all!