It never ceases to amaze us how fast a year goes by. In early May, we watched as another cohort of CASE and CASE i3 fellows graduated along with hundreds of new MBAs. This annual event always triggers CASE’s “end of year” (the academic year, that is) reflection.
For us, this has been a year of learning, especially in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It has been a year of new opportunities, as we researched Angel Investor Networks, developed a Scaling Readiness Diagnostic, and launched a new executive education program on Gender Lens Investing. We are thankful for the opportunities we have had to gain insights from leading impact professionals through our research, and we feel deeply privileged to be tasked with sharing that knowledge with current and next-generation impact leaders over the coming years.
Educating the Next Generation
Over the past nine months, we had the pleasure of working with 199 first and second-year MBAs. Many came to us through our various social impact courses such as Impact Investing and Social Entrepreneurship, and 74 spent a significant part of their year working on client consulting projects with 12 different organizations as a part of the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum and the CASE i3 Consulting Practicum.
Every year, we supplement our student courses with “pop-up” workshops providing critical skills training for social impact leaders. In September, we continued our tradition of kicking off the year with the Starting Line, bringing together 67 first-year MBAs to plan how they want to pursue social impact during their time at Fuqua. As the bookend to the year, we challenged MBAs to think about addressing systems-level racial justice issues in a pop-up led by the Racial Equity Institute. In total, we had 206 students at these and additional workshops focused on launching a social venture, design thinking, modeling the efficient impact frontier, and presentation design.
Fuqua On Board
While at Fuqua, MBA candidates have the opportunity to participate on a local non-profit board as a non-voting member through Fuqua on Board. This year 54 MBAs contributed to the boards of 27 local non-profit organizations in Durham, NC, and the surrounding areas.
CASE Executive Speaker Series
Head of Sustainable Finance
Ann Mei Chang
Author of Lean Impact and Former Chief Innovation Officer, USAID
Founder of Illumen Capital
In the CASE Executive Speaker Series, Hilary Irby talked about how Morgan Stanley has expanded its training for advisors so they can better meet the needs of clients wanting to invest with impact. Ann Mei Chang shared her latest book, Lean Impact, which challenges impact entrepreneurs to adopt parts of the Silicon Valley start-up mentality in their work. Daryn Dodson challenged us to think about impact investing as a means to create equity and shared how Ben and Jerry’s is using its ice cream platform to talk about social issues. We ended our speaker series with a panel discussion by four Ashoka US fellows discussing how their ventures are addressing social justice and racial equity.
Scaling Social Impact
The anchor of our scaling work has been the Scaling Pathways project, produced in partnership with Skoll Foundation, USAID, and Mercy Corps Ventures. Over this past year, we published the theme paper Leveraging Government Partnerships for Scaled Impact and four mini case studies featuring the scaling stories of Fundación Capital, Living Goods, One Acre Fund, and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor. In the upcoming months, we will be releasing the latest theme paper Evolving Talent to Drive Scaled Impact.
Even the most successful social enterprises face challenges as they expand and scale their ventures. This past year, USAID’s Global Development Lab engaged our team to develop and test a growth readiness assessment and coaching process for eight of their grantees. We look forward to considering over the next year ways to make the diagnostic tool we have developed through this process available to more enterprises and funders in the future.
Impact Angel Networks
In 2011, we engaged with USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network to create the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), an accelerator program designed to serve as a bridge between social entrepreneurs and the impact investment community. As a continuation of our SEAD work, we recently launched a new project with USAID to explore how different types of angel investor network models support early-stage entrepreneurs and specific ways USAID could leverage these networks in pursuit of the US government’s development goals.
In March, we launched our first gender lens investing executive education program. Over two days at Duke, 27 participants learned how to develop a customized gender smart investing strategy – from setting strategic objectives, to evaluating real-world public and private investments, to applying best practices in impact measuring and management, all with a gender perspective. We were floored by the positive responses participants gave to the training, and look forward to hosting it again this fall.
Smart Impact Capital
Since launching our crowdsourced professional training platform, Smart Impact Capital, we have helped entrepreneurs identify their true capital needs, we have worked with accelerators and funders to equip their social ventures with the means to pitch the right investment story, and we have partnered with educators to prepare future impact entrepreneurs. Over the past two years, we have had 23,619 unique visitors on the website and have had over 91,000 downloads from over 130 countries around the world.
Exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
This year we embarked on a journey to learn how to better integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into our work. We were thrilled to collaborate with Aliyah Abdur-Rahman, CASE Senior Fellow for DEI, to identify strategic ways that CASE can engage in social justice and racial equity as a means to propel society forward. We look forward to continuing this work with Aliyah over the coming year.
Growing our Advisory Council
We welcomed nine new members to the CASE and CASE i3 Advisory Councils. We feel so fortunate to have these social impact leaders advise our work over the coming years.
CEO and Co-Founder of Trust, The Infrastructuralists
Leader of Ashoka North America
Chief Operations Officer, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Launching a Podcast
We are privileged to have an amazing and vast network of social impact and impact investing leaders willing to share the lessons they have learned along their impact journeys. In October we launched the first season of our new podcast, CASE in Point, with seven episodes covering topics such as the balance between centralization and local adaptation, innovating through experimentation, assessing the impact and costs of government partnerships, and impact investing as a means for creating racial equity.
As we look forward to next year, our team is eagerly anticipating the newest cohort of CASE and CASE i3 fellows, excited to continue our executive education programming, and delighted to dig deeper into our research to see how we can share our learnings with the field and have a greater impact on the challenging social issues of our time.