It may be time to expand MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) competition. Five years ago, that may have seemed a tall order as the competition was still on the drawing boards. More than 200 MBA students participated from 10 schools in this year’s event, hosted at Wharton.
For participants, MIINT has become as worthwhile as a class— even without credit—and record turnout packing Huntsman Hall for the April 18 final event left no doubt as to the popularity of the competition. Jayson Tischler WG15, who participated in his second MIINT contest this year, believes his main takeaway from this year’s contest was how the many stakeholders try to balance social impact investing with securing investment returns.
“Traditional investment companies, venture capital companies and social impact investing are trying to find ways to deliver social impact at the core,” he says. “It’s a form of bringing people together.”
A global program designed for training the next generation of impact investors, MIINT simulates an early-stage impact investment fund, allowing students to find and analyze potential social enterprises. Teams come up with an investment strategy, identify potential investments, then narrow down their selection to one company that promises the best mix of social impact and investment return. At the final event, each team presents its selection.
In 2015, Wharton’s team screened more than 200 companies before presenting Care at Hand Inc., a medical company that reduces hospital readmissions. They took home second place and a $25,000 investment from Liquidnet, the global institutional trading network. The team from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Infiniteach, an education company, took first prize and a $50,000 check from a private investor.
Jacob Gray, senior director at the Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII), says it’s a good time to expand MIINT as social impact investing stands at the cusp of broader market acceptance, particularly with millennial investors.
“They want to see their social values and daily work overlap as much as possible, but the interest in social value is borne out across other trends,” Gray says. “Post financial collapse, investors are demanding more of the companies they invest in.”
Gray said that the competition this year was exceptionally strong. So strong, in fact, that every company presented to the judging panel at the April 18 finals was deemed commercially viable.
“My guess is that nearly every one of those companies showcased by the students this year will be able to raise money in the commercial market and go forward as real going concerns, whereas in the past some of the companies were not fully baked ideas,” he says. “Everyone turned it up a notch.”
Other teams that participated in the 2014-15 MIINT competition came from Chicago’s Booth School, Columbia Business School, Darden School of Business, Haas School of Business, David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, ESSEC Business School in Paris and Harvard Business School.