Announcing Launch of CASE i3: The CASE Initiative on Impact Investing

We’re pleased to announce that CASE is formally launching a new program focused on impact investing, CASE i3, the CASE Initiative on Impact Investing. This will be the first comprehensive global program at a top 10 business school in the US to blend academic rigor with practical knowledge on the emerging field of Impact Investing across three main audiences: MBA students, academics, and professional investors and practitioners.

Why this, why now?  

The growing wave of interest both inside and outside of Fuqua has become impossible to ignore. Impact investing, as we’ve written about before, isinvesting with the intent to generate tangible environmental and social impacts in addition to financial returns. It is related to but different from Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), in that impact investors pay attention to positive impacts that can be made from nimble, privately-owned companies instead of placing screens on publicly sold investments. According to last year’s JP Morgan report, this market offers the potential over the next ten years for invested capital of $400 billion-$1 trillion and profit of $183-$667 billion.

Our students are increasingly interested in careers in impact investing as a way to use their financial and business skills to create social change (as they discussed in a recent post). At the same time, the global fields of investment and philanthropy are exploring impact investing with full force, and it seems that all the major institutions concerned with social entrepreneurship and scaling impact are turning their attention to how to construct and grow a capital market that can ably fuel solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, like poverty, health, education and global sustainability.  In a time where social problems are growing and financial resources from governments and philanthropy are constrained and insufficient, it makes a lot of sense to see if the private markets can be harnessed for social good.  But can they be?

New books are coming out (see Jed Emerson and Antony Bugg-Levine’s new book, out Sept 13, but available now on Kindle), new industry groups like GIIN and ANDE are forming, new impact investing job boards are appearing, and many groups are holding events to develop various aspects of the field.  It is an exciting time.


We at CASE are excited to launch this new initiative in part because we’ve been working in this area for a long time and it feels like it is time to collect our activities under one banner and deepen our engagement. We see impact investing as a logical part of CASE’s work to develop the ecosystems that help scale and support social entrepreneurs and other impact-focused entrepreneurs. We also think the field is ripe for more dedicated academic inquiry.  We are teaching a new course in spring 2012, in collaboration with UNC, on impact investing. We’re writing new teaching cases. We’re working with practitioners in the field to develop the right kinds of intermediary infrastructures to support entrepreneurs who want to access the right kind of capital.  (Last spring I was involved in merging two significant national organizations working to do just this; one of them has moved over $150 million into small companies and funds focused on impact.) And we’ve been selected as the global research coordinator for the first ratings system of impact investment funds worldwide, GIIRS, the Global Impact Investing Ratings System (think Morningstar, but with stars for mission achievement, not financial performance).  We are dedicated to finding ways to use the data GIIRS collects – which we believe to be the highest quality out there on impact investors that invest in privately-owned companies – to start answering critical questions about what really works and what doesn’t across the vast emerging field of impact investment.

What Next?

CASE i3 is establishing its own advisory board, and we’re thrilled that John M. Buley, Jr., Managing Director of JP Morgan Social Finance, has agreed to serve as its chair.  JP Morgan has invested in some of the most influential global funds focused on base of the pyramid development and impact investing.

There are a lot of projects in our pipeline and we are looking forward to developing more as we announce our new initiative simultaneously this week here at Duke, to the press, and at the SOCAP conference in CA. For one, we are working to bring more field leaders to Duke to share their insights with our community. We’d also like to reach out to students interested in impact investing and get their insights into the best way to engage them to help develop the initiative.  Beth Bafford, a second year MBA candidate, has agreed to help coordinate this, so feel free to reach out to her if you are an MBA student, at Duke or otherwise, and want to get involved.

We’ll be posting updates as we have them and welcome comments and feedback as we go!

To view the official press release announcing the CASE i3 launch, click here: CASE i3 Press Release (pdf)