Impact Investing in Practice: CASE i3 Speaker Series Guest Mike Dorsey

This post was written by Matt Hendren, a first year Duke MBA student and Associate in the CASE Initiative on Impact Investing (CASE i3) program.


 

dorseyWe welcomed Mike Dorsey, CASE i3 Advisory Board member, to Fuqua in November as part of the CASE i3 Speaker Series.  Mike is a venture capitalist who transitioned from his 20-year tenure as an investment banker into a serial co-founder of several highly successful impact funds.  During Mike’s visit, he spoke to students about his work as the founder of the Bay Area Equity Fund (BAEF), a $75MM double bottom line venture capital fund which invested in firms such as SolarCity, Tesla, and Pandora.  In addition to its social returns, the firm was very financially successful and achieved a 25.5% IRR.

His talk focused on the practical concerns of running an impact fund, and two main themes emerged: the nature of the relationship between impact investors and their portfolio firms, and the current and future landscape of investors in impact investing funds.

Relationship between investors and portfolio firms:

It can be difficult for minority investors to encourage investees to pursue socially impactful policies. The Bay Area Equity Fund found its way around this difficulty by selecting firms for which social value was at the core of both the founders’ ethics and their firms’ business models.  These companies were described as having founders who were “impact committed” and were “people who care about this as much as we do.” This allowed BAEF to serve as a facilitator of additional social impact. BAEF helped investees maximize their social impact by liaising with community groups, or helping firms seek “green” certification for their products. This type of control is informal but, with appropriate screening, sufficient.

Traditional justifications for corporate social responsibility include lower energy bills as a result of environmentally friendly practices, or the public relations benefits that come from being a “good” corporate citizen. The firms selected by BAEF, however, have a different relationship with social value. To these firms, the social impact is fundamentally important to their value proposition and way of doing business. This feature makes the socially impactful part of the business inherently enduring.  Mike cited the example of Tesla – if Tesla was acquired or taken public, would the company switch to building diesel cars?  With an environmental mission built into the business model, the environmental impacts are likely to endure.

Current and future investors:

Half of the BAEF’s investment base came from banks motivated by the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which requires all banks receiving FDIC protection provide lending in low and moderate-income communities. This lending has traditionally been done by making home mortgage loans, but has recently expanded in some cases to include investments in impact funds. Other investors in the fund included five foundations, high net-worth families, and one pension fund.

It is critical to note that all of these investors were seeking market-rate returns, and did not expect a decreased financial return to accompany a higher social return.  However, Mike noted that some impact investors will be comfortable with below market rates of return, but that the tools to measure social return need further development. He reported on a series of conversations with wealth managers who described a need for more credible and accessible impact tools so the managers feel equipped to conduct both financial and social analysis on behalf of their clients.

I left Mike’s talk with two key impressions.  First, a social-impact focus can be immensely valuable for a firm.  Second, there is much work to be done to create better metrics for impact evaluation, and to educate the investment community on how to use these new tools.

To watch a complete recording of Mike’s talk, click here.

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Cathy Clark Named in 2014 America’s Top 20 Women in Philanthropy, Social Innovation & Civic Engagement

1619664_10101809661006749_6852171897738719743_nCongratulations to CASE i3 Director Cathy Clark for being named in Michael Chatman’s list of America’s Top 20 Women in Philanthropy, Social Innovation & Civic Engagement for 2014!  Cathy was chosen from over 400 nominees for her work in social entrepreneurship and impact investing.  Michael Chatman leads the largest network of mission-related philanthropists in the United States and is considered one of the leading experts on philanthropy in the country.

To learn more and see the full list of America’s Top 20 Women in Philanthrophy, Social Innovation & Civic Engagement, please visit Fundraising Success Magazine’s website here.

To learn more about Cathy’s work, with CASE i3, please visit our CASE i3 site.

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Our Top 5 Posts of 2014

It’s that time of the year when emails are flooding in with subject lines of “Thanks for a Great Year” and “Recapping 2014.”  The New Year is certainly a time for reflection and celebration so we thought we’d share our top 5 most viewed posts of 2014:

A moment of fun as we counted down to our 10 year anniversary#1: In Memory of Greg Dees

It was just over a year ago when we said goodbye to our founder and dear friend, Greg Dees.  We still feel his presence every day and are thankful that, as we said in this post, “his spirit and wisdom will live on through the many people that he inspired.”

#2: Impact Investing and Global Finance: The Big Picture

In 2014, CASE i3 Director Cathy Clark and her co-authors Jed Emerson and Ben Thornley released both a short e-book and a full length book, noting that “investing with the explicit goal of creating financial returns alongside measurable social and environmental benefits is catching fire.” This post launched the short e-book, Collaborative Capitalism and the Rise of Impact Investing.  Later in the year, Clark, Emerson and Thornley released the full book – The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism – read more about that release here.

#3: Capacity + Capital = Impact

We brought many speakers to campus to discuss issues of social entrepreneurship, innovation and impact investing.  This post recaps a visit from Laurie Spengler, CEO of Enclude who shared her “observations on global lessons for leveraging capacity with capital for impact.”

#4: Shaping the Future through Innovation: The 2014 Sustainable Business and Social Impact Conference

Not even an “epic snowstorm” could stop the 2014 SBSI conference from being a success.  The day included a keynote from Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea, and talks from dozens of other leaders in global health, education, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and social enterprise. We’re looking forward to the 2015 conference on February 11, 2015 – save the date!

FCCP group pic (for blog)#5: As Graduation Nears: Recapping the 2013-2014 Academic Year

The year in review is always a popular post – recapping our accomplishments from the academic year including SEAD, CASE i3, the Change Academy, student programs and more.

Some of the other favorites from the year?   Reflecting on September 11th and the “power of a small group of people”; announcing our 2014 SEAD cohort; students innovating on Ebola; discussing multilingual leadership and more stories from our students and alumni.

We hope you enjoy reading the CASENotes blog as much as we enjoying writing it.  Happy New Year from our CASE team to yours and join us in 2015 for more exciting posts and news!

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Aspiring to Something Better

This review was written by Jem Hudson, founder of the Caldy Group. To read the original post and other insights, subscribe to the Caldy Group blog here.

“The stakes are high. If impact investing spurs the socialization and growth in Collaborative Capitalism that we believe it will, for the first time in history we will be responding to some of the world’s most difficult challenges appropriately, proportionally, and sustainably – through massive deployment of the world’s global capital markets.

Cathy Clark, Jed Emerson, & Ben Thornley
The Impact Investor

Earlier this fall, three highly esteemed impact investing experts – Cathy ClarkJed Emerson, and Ben Thornley – published their much-anticipated book The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative CapitalismImpInv book. A result of years of research and active participation in developing the field of impact investing, the book aims to help practitioners in the field as they create their own impact investing strategies.

In this day and age, when most people have barely enough time to read a 2 or 3 page article, this 357-page tome comes as a formidable challenge. Indeed, global audiences tend to lack the time or attention span to dive into the “real meat” of someone’s work, often relying on press releases, general impressions, and sound bites for information. Many so-called “experts” have emerged based on a single TED talk or well-received piece in the Huffington Post.

But The Impact Investor is the kind of book that you will want to read cover-to-cover, because only then will you fully appreciate its breadth and depth of insight. It is a tour de force – a truly groundbreaking work that delivers some of the very finest thinking on impact investing, and presents it in a warm and inspiring way. The authors come off as brilliant, highly strategic experts who also have enough groove and charisma to effortlessly sprinkle the narrative with clever and highly astute nuggets.

Though The Impact Investor is a book about impact investing, it is grounded in a much broader concept – the idea of Collaborative Capitalism. In a sense, Collaborative Capitalism captures many recent trends that move us from a bifurcated world where “doing well” and “doing good” are viewed as separate, to a newly emerging paradigm rooted in the idea of “doing well by doing good.” The authors define it as follows:

“Collaborative Capitalism is the realization of a community’s highest economic and social aspirations through the enterprising deployment of ideas, capital, and shared resources in pursuit of common impact.” (p. 19)

But though the concept may come across as something that has descended upon us from the heights of an ivory tower, with limited real-world relevance, the authors are quick to clarify that “Collaborative Capitalism is not a theoretical construct. It is made real in myriad markets through a wide range of business approaches and financial innovations.” (p. 19)

Within the Collaborative Capitalism framework, or what the authors refer to as a pyramid, impact investing is the mechanism that enables the deployment of capital to projects and enterprises in order to achieve predetermined positive social and environmental outcomes that are then tracked and measured. As such, impact investing reflects the three core elements of Collaborative Capitalism: (1) transparency; (2) outcomes orientation; and (3) attention to constituency. These elements present a myriad of both opportunities and challenges, and the authors acknowledge that “we are now in a period of exploration.” (p. 43)

CaldyGroup_Logo_ThinBorder

As the authors begin to “rais[e] the curtain on impact investing,” we start to see just how complex and unwieldy the impact investing ecosystem, and its adjacent fields of socially responsible investing and US community finance, really are. Though the idea of impact investing is so elegant and promising, the history of the space paints a very different picture. As we discussed in one of our very first articles, pioneers in the field started to deploy capital for social and environmental impact in so many different ways and for so many different reasons that simply superimposing a framework – as elegant as it may be – might not sit well with them. In their view, their ideas came before the framework, so why should they need to adjust their thinking and approach to accommodate it?

But if anyone can speak to the power of expansive strategic thinking in a challenging, highly fragmented and siloed field, it is the authors of The Impact Investor. Through their individual and collective efforts, they’ve helped introduce structure and cohesion into the field; collaborated with a broad range of experts and stakeholders in order to hone in on the ideas and solutions that really work; and worked tirelessly to capture and showcase the most successful examples of impact investing in action. Though each and every page of this important book is filled with invaluable insights, the book’s greatest strength lies in its detailed and insightful analysis of twelve carefully selected impact investment funds.

The book provides a framework that maps the impact investment fund landscape across two main dimensions. The first dimension focuses on the intentions of a fund’s investor base, which can either be driven by public policy or private interest. The second dimension focuses on the type and scale of enterprises the fund aims to support, which range from early stage (or “blueprint”) to mature (or “scale”). The twelve funds are then organized in a two-by-two matrix, with four main categories:

  • First Responders – Public policy driven investors focusing on early-stage solutions, typically in severely underserved markets
  • Solution Specialists – Public policy driven investors focusing on scalable solutions, typically with a narrowly defined area of thematic impact focus
  • Early-Stage Innovators – Private interest driven investors focusing on innovative, early-stage enterprises that address specific impact areas
  • Scale Agents – Private interest driven investors focusing on more mainstream, large-scale solutions and enterprises that deliver positive impact

Once the twelve funds are introduced, the book delves into four key practices that define effective impact investing:

  • Mission First and Last – Clearly identifying the problem being addressed through an “investment thesis of change” (ITC) prior to investment, and then making sure to track and report measurable social outcomes
  • Policy Symbiosis – The interplay between the private and public sectors through public-private partnerships and other models, with a focus on innovation, collaboration, trust, and clearly stated mutual interest
  • Catalytic Capital – Intentional collaboration among different parties in order to configure a deal structure that will help trigger the future flow of capital, while serving the diverse interests of parties involved
  • Multilingual Leadership – A leadership style characterized by the ability to express concepts and practices across silos, and in an equally compelling manner, to audiences from finance, nonprofit, and the public sector

As we dig deeper into the strategies and operational approaches that have historically led to success in impact investing, we begin to realize just how powerful impact investing in particular, and Collaborative Capitalism in general, truly are. At the same time, we also begin to see the difficult road ahead as the field tries to expand and gain mainstream acceptance. Because this important transition into the mainstream is the only way for impact investing to achieve its true potential, it’s important to consider the forces standing in its way.

Though we strongly agree with the insightful commentary offered in the final section of the book – “Looking Ahead: Trends and Challenges” (Chapters 7 and 8) – we’d like to focus on a broader issue that we see when thinking about the future of impact investing. In our view, the ultimate success of impact investing as an idea and a field will rest on our ability to live up to its high ideals and ambitious aspirations. A part of why so many young Millennial leaders have become passionate about impact investing is because it feeds into their idealism and a general desire for something better. But we fear that people’s inescapably human tendencies will ultimately get in the way.

First, even the very idea of Collaborative Capitalism is likely to face challenges. Despite their strong desire to collaborate for the greater good, most people simply can’t help but act in a highly competitive manner. This strong human tendency to compete has served as a basis for some of the most important management thinking, including Professor Michael E. Porter’s work on competitive strategy. In short, through fierce market competition, companies and organizations are pushed to think strategically about their market positions, to innovate and seek new opportunities, and to improve their operational effectiveness. Competition is so deeply integrated into the very fabric of capitalism, and human behavior in general, that even our highest ideals can’t make us resist the temptation to compete.

Second, one of the book’s main overarching messages is the importance of coordination and cohesion in a space that continues to come across as too fragmented, siloed, and confusing. This ideal of harmonious movement toward the same vision of impact investing as a transformational force is so compelling that it is hard to believe that it is not already the status quo. But alas, people are people, and the thrill of seeing the world truly transformed for the better often competes with a basic human desire to speak up, stand out, and be different. This affinity for straying away from the crowds and the beaten path has fueled many successful careers in socially responsible investing, community finance, and impact investing, and some of the pioneers in the space will likely never be comfortable with getting “folded” into a broader movement, no matter how compelling its overall vision may be.

Lastly, the book emphasizes the importance of effective public-private partnerships, especially through Policy Symbiosis. While we agree that impact investing as a concept tends to appeal to policymakers across party lines, it remains to be seen how this will translate into practice, especially as we move into the upcoming Presidential election cycle. Recent events continue to raise concerns about growing divisions in the United States, fueled by a strangely outdated reliance on ideology, deeply entrenched interests, and the increasingly damaging effect of the media that magnifies and distorts different issues. Within this context, even the most enlightened bipartisan leaders are likely to struggle to have their voices heard.

***

We are deeply inspired by the ideas and ideals put forth in The Impact Investor, and we applaud Clark, Emerson, and Thornley for their extraordinary achievement in developing this important work. But more importantly, we admire their continued emphasis on drawing insights from real-world evidence and driving change through action and hard work. The authors put it well: “We would be well served not to lead with our press releases and events, but rather let our actions and results tell the story of our work.” (p. 287)

At Caldy Group, we are deeply committed to driving change through action. We encourage all of you to think about how you too can do your part to make sure that our society can truly live up to the vision of something better that this book so thoughtfully presents. At the end of the day, it’s up to us to face the challenges confronting this promising field and use all of our talents and skills to drive change for the better.

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Fuqua Startup: Cause Marketing for Nonprofits & Businesses

This post was written by Justin Kersey, a second year Duke MBA student. Justin has just launched a new venture, Cake: a cause marketing and advertising platform where businesses can support good causes and nonprofits can raise money online. 

When I started my first year at Fuqua I had an idea for a marketing platformcake-1000x1000 called Cake. At its core, Cake allows anyone to monetize their social networks and klout by carrying promotional advertising. Last fall, with a prototype already built, I began meeting with businesses and social commerce experts in the Triangle and introduced them to the Cake platform. I also consulted with Duke, NC State & UNC faculty researching social sharing and marketing. Both business experts and academics liked the concept, but quickly identified significant hurdles to a market ready product.

Based on this expert feedback, we pivoted the Cake concept to tightly focus on cause marketing, i.e. marketing partnerships between businesses and nonprofits. We saw an unmet need wherein nonprofits and good causes were struggling to raise money while business owners were trying to reach and engage new customers. American companies donate $20 billion each year but spend more than $300 billion on advertising. We wanted to help those businesses support good causes and win new customers at the same time!

Cake is the first easy to use, mass-market cause marketing and sponsorship platform. On Cake consumers can support the charities and causes they love for free simply by clicking.

As I was developing Cake, I decided to sign up for Fuqua on Board – a program in which Duke MBA students volunteer as nonvoting Board members of local nonprofits. Along with Dan Chow (another Duke MBA student), I was assigned to the Boy Scouts – Occoneechee Council. The Council has 25,000+ members in the Triangle area. Like most nonprofits, the Scouts are often raising money for programming. Traditionally the Scouts engage corporate donors with breakfasts, charity auctions and golf tournaments, none of which return a measurable marketing benefit for the donors. We recognized a clear opportunity to help the Boy Scouts develop a cause marketing campaign via Cake.

It was easy to decide on a worthy Scouts’ campaign to support through Cake. One of the most important rituals in Scouting is summer camp. The Occoneechee CounScreen Shot 2014-11-24 at 11.03.00 AMcil raises money so every Scout can go to camp, including low-income kids who otherwise could not afford it. Dan and I began organizing a Cake campaign to help send deserving Scouts to camp. Unlike other social fundraising which solicit direct donations, Cake allows a company to make a donation per click up to a fixed amount. So, if you visit the campaign site (https://www.cakefundraising.com/campaigns/1) and click through to visit the sponsor’s website, they will donate to the Scouts’ campaign.

It’s free and easy for the consumer and a great way for companies to connect with Scouts and their parents. Companies such as Under Armour, Huntington Learning Center, Tijuana Flats and Adventure Landing are now able to support the Scouts and drive traffic, distribute coupons and discounts all at once. The Scout’s campaign can be easily shared via email and social media with the Boy Scout network of 25,000+ families and reshared with friends.

Cake, of course, tracks all sharing, page interactions, views and clicks and helps quantify the value the Boy Scouts create for their corporate sponsors. In addition, Cake eliminates risk. Sponsors donate nothing unless the Boy Scouts produce measurable results. Cake also includes a central marketplace that aligns businesses and nonprofits not only around causes of mutual interest but also around marketing opportunities. Cake allows nonprofits to finally monetize the marketing value of their membership and fan base. Now the Scout’s social network can carry advertising just like a newspaper or radio station.

With the Boy Scout Cake campaign going live, we hope to raise enough money to be able to send 25 low-income boys from the Raleigh-Durham area to camp, which will cost approximately $10,000. So far we have $8,000 pledged – we just need you to click to unlock the pledges from our sponsors!

The Cake platform has transformed into a compelling technology that empowers businesses and nonprofits to build mutually beneficial relationships that redirect money away from traditional media and toward good causes. Beyond the Boy Scouts, we are working on campaigns for other nonprofits including NPR, There Goes My Hero, Stop Hunger Now and the Alexandria Technology Center.

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Q&A with CASE Alumnus Beth Bafford

beth_baffordBeth Bafford (MBA ’12) serves as the Senior Officer of Strategic Initiatives at the Calvert Foundation, a social impact debt fund that provides innovative financial products to increase capital access to underserved communities. While at Fuqua, Beth was actively involved with CASE through CASE i3, Fuqua on Board and the MBA Net Impact Club. 

This interview is part of the Fuqua Q&A profile series.  The original post can be found on Fuqua School of Business – Alumni Connect.


What do you do professionally?

I work for an impact investing fund (confusingly called Calvert Foundation, despite the fact that we’re not a foundation), that raises debt capital from retail investors through our Community Investment Note that we pool and lend to community and international development organizations. Right now, my focus is on developing our domestic and global health investment strategy, as well as our place-based initiative called Ours To Own that allows individuals to invest in community development efforts in their city.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I love visiting and working with our borrowers and hearing about the impact they have on their communities. One of them works across four African countries to increase the flow of debt capital to small and medium-sized health clinics, while ensuring they have the technical assistance necessary to improve the quality of care for their patients. Another works with low-income families in Baltimore to reduce the asthma triggers in their homes, which decreases emergent health episodes and allows them to go to school instead of the hospital.  Each one has a unique and incredible story.

What is the biggest challenge you face?

bafford-yeomanWe have a lot of challenges! A big one is how to assess risk in new or complex transactions. Our mandate is to plug financing gaps that exist because of market imperfections, which tends to mean that there is no blueprint for how to look at and adequately mitigate risk (how’s that for a nerdy b-school answer?).

What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?

I recently had the privilege to attend an Institute of Medicine workshop in Bellagio, Italy, on how to strengthen the health system by empowering nurses and midwives to take a more active role in primary and preventative care. We had fascinating conversations during the day, and fabulous wine at night!

What is the best professional advice you’ve received?

Trying to define your ‘path’ or ‘5-year plan’ is almost always completely worthless (unless you are a doctor). Always keep your eyes open to new opportunities and trust your gut.

Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?

CEO of a city (AKA mayor), without the campaign and negative attack ads.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Usually, I love going for long bike rides, seeing friends, trying new DC restaurants, and playing with my nieces and nephews, but recently it has been a lot of wedding planning with my fiancé, Dan Yeoman MBA ’11!

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?

Doing is so much more fun (and educational) than tacitly learning. I loved a lot of my classes and professors, but the things I did outside of the classroom—working with CASEi3, volunteering for local non-profits, drinking wine with friends at six plates—taught me a million times more about myself and what my passions were in life.

Who was your favorite professor?

It is a tie. Greg Dees, who we lost suddenly last year, was the kindest, most modest genius I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. While he left way too soon, he gave the world the most amazing gift—an army of gentle, passionate change-makers who are empowered by his teachings to make the world a better place. I think about Greg and his class nearly every day.

Tied for first is Cathy Clark. I had the great fortune of teaming up with Cathy early on in my Duke career and tried not to leave her side for my two years in Durham. She is a force—a massive intellect paired with the biggest heart—and she has mastered the grey space between academia and practice, where she is wildly valued and respected by both. Plus, she is the greatest mom, and has taught me so much about how to kick butt in the office and at home.

What is your favorite Fuqua memory?

My minor role as Tami Taylor in the hit Robb Stey production, Fuqua Night Lights. Robb, if you are reading this, I think it is time to make it big in Hollywood so you can support all of us little people.

What does Team Fuqua mean to you?

Our shared experience of the culture created a lasting, mutual admiration and respect that I don’t think will ever fade away. I’m pretty excited to raise my kids in a Team Fuqua household so they get indoctrinated from day 1.

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Students Innovate on Ebola

Recently, CASE – along with partners from SEAD, Duke I&E, DGHI, IPIHD, DIHI, & Sanford – launched a challenge to bring together interdisciplinary teams of students and expert judges around a critical real world problem: Ebola.

2014 has brought on the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The disease is causing widespread fear and disruption and, as parts of West Africa are being ravaged by the Ebola epidemic, stakeholders around the world are attempting to identify the most effective ways to address the spread of disease.

6754274_origThe Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge offered our students an opportunity to use the skills they are learning here at Duke to generate ideas and use their knowledge in service of society. We were overwhelmed by the response from students:

  • More than 160 students registered from across Duke including Trinity, DGHI, Fuqua, Pratt, School of Nursing, Sanford, and Medicine.
  • 120+ people attended a kickoff event held at Fuqua where Dr. Cameron Wolfe provided an overview of the Ebola crisis.  We then followed up with multiple workshops to provide the students more context – experts from Duke’s Biological Safety Division, IntraHealth International, Duke Institute for Health Innovation, ClickMedix, and others spoke with the students on a variety of topics.
  • 22 teams of students submitted entries (after less than a week to learn and brainstorm solutions!).
  • An expert panel of judges provided feedback and selected the winner.

After a difficult deliberation, we selected five teams to present in the finals:

  • Pulse Point Cooling: use of pulse point cooling pads to efficiently cool body in PPE and allow for person to be suited up for longer period of time.
  • Project SOS: Skills Optimization for Survivors of Ebola: Increased use of survivors as low-skilled caregivers for patients, given their immunity for period of time after recovering from disease.
  • PROS: PPE, Removal, Optimization, Simulation: Focused on training for use of PPE, and using glow in the dark paint to demonstrate contamination in an effective way.
  • ONE-TIME: A culturally adept solution to Ebola surveillance in West Africa that uses mobile technology to track Ebola outbreaks and ensure patients get early care to increase survival rates.
  • Ebola Patient Kits: Creating kits for patients that would contain the critical supplies needed to care for a patient to ensure adequate supply, ease of use, easier engagement of lower-skilled workers, etc.
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The winning team with some of the Challenge judges

In the end, the winning team was the “Ebola Patient Kits” which included 3 of our Fuqua students (Rupa Bhojraj, Kaitlin Carr, and Heather Langerman) as well as Julia Messina from Medicine, Junwen Zhang from Pratt, and Jessica Gordon from Sanford. Congratulations to the team!

The challenge was a fantastic experience for our students and truly showed the innovative thinking, enthusiasm and skills that our students can bring to bear on some of the world’s most complex and challenge social problems.  We hope that this challenge has inspired the students to continue to use their skills in service of society at Duke and beyond.

To learn more about the Challenge, watch this brief video recap and read some of the media coverage below:


Participants in the Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge were encouraged to submit their ideas to the OpenIDEO Fighting Ebola Challenge.  Which is part of a broader response by USAID and partners through the Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development. The OpenIDEO platform is the first part of this initiative, where the global community can collaborate and brainstorm actionable solutions to the Ebola epidemic. The second part is that strong ideas may be encouraged to apply for funding in subsequent components of the Grand Challenge for Development by USAID and partners.

The Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge was sponsored by the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (I&E), the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IPIHD), the Duke Institute for Healthcare Innovation (DIHI), and the Sanford School of Public Policy (Sanford).

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Ending Needless Blindness in Mexico

This post was written by second year MBA student Tim Morilla. During this summer. Tim interned at salaUno, an eye care clinic in Mexico that seeks to offer high quality eye care service at affordable prices. Tim’s internship was supported by the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IPIHD), the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), and CASE’s Summer Internship(learn more about SIF at the bottom on this post!)

salaUnoAccording to the World Health Organization, approximately 285 million people across the globe are visually impaired and 90% of the visually impaired live in low-income areas.  What is even more disturbing about those statistics is that over 80% of those cases could be prevented or cured.  As part of my internship with the International Partnership of Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IPIHD) and the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), I had the unique opportunity to work at salaUno, a clinic renowned in Mexico for offering high quality and affordable eye care.

salaUno was established in 2010 by two entrepreneurs, Javier Okhuysen and Carlos Orellana, with a mission of offering affordable, accessible and quality eye care treatments that could offer the highest social and economic impact for patients.  Initially, salaUno focused its business on cataracts surgeries.  With an estimated 2 million Mexicans with untreated cataracts, there was an incredible need for the surgery.  Using the Aravind Eye Care System (India) as a model, salaUno proved they could lower the cost (and as a result, the price) of cataract surgeries by using more efficient surgical processes.  Setting up two tables in the operating room, the ophthalmologists moved efficiently from one patient to the next, eliminating the time wasted prepping and moving the patient in/out of the operating room.  By offering the surgery at a lower, but still profitable price, salaUno increased patient access and quickly gained market share.  Since their origins, salaUno has continued to grow. They are constantly searching for ways to improve efficiencies in hopes of providing more cost-effective eye care.

This summer I worked with salaUno (and one of their sister companies, labUno) as they considered launching a new eye care diagnostic device.  In Mexico, many patients are unaware of eye problems because they lack access to regular eye exams.  A significant reason for this problem is that many Mexicans either cannot afford eye care or lack an easily accessible eye care option and are unable to take off work to travel to an optometrist’s office.  As a result, salaUno and labUno saw an opportunity for a product that could lower costs and increase patient access.  This summer salaUno and labUno worked with an organization, Forus Healthcare, which was already successfully distributing a diagnostic device in India.  The device was portable, allowing for patients to be tested in remote locations. Its mobile and broadband connectivity also allowed for remote diagnoses.  Furthermore, the device could be operated by a minimally trained technician so that doctors could spend less time on diagnosing patients and more time on urgent patient care.  As part of my summer project, I helped salaUno and labUno develop pricing, marketing and distribution strategies for bringing the product to the Mexican market.  I believe the product has amazing potential to help both patients and doctors in Mexico and I am very eager to see how it can help the lower and middle income segments as labUno begins to distribute the product in the fall of 2014.

Working with salaUno and labUno was an extremely rewarding experience for me.  Prior to this summer, I had limited exposure to working in social impact and entrepreneurial settings.  However, I found it particularly motivating to work on a project that could offer such a tangible benefit for people.  I am very grateful to the Summer Internship Fund for the opportunity to work with salaUno, labUno and IPIHD/SEAD and I look forward to continued involvement in the health care and social impact sectors as I begin my second year at The Fuqua School of Business.


The Summer Internship Fund (SIF) enables first year Duke MBA-Daytime students to learn about the rewards and challenges of social sector management without making a significant financial sacrifice. In addition, the program enables organizations that otherwise could not afford to hire MBA student interns to benefit from students’ expertise.  The SIF has supported more than 150 students, distributed nearly $470,000, and helped to further the mission of many nonprofit and government organizations. Funds are raised through student fundraising and from donors who believe in the mission of the program.  If you would like to contribute, you can donate online using your credit card.

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Creating Economic Opportunity for All

This post was written by second year MBA students Laura Mixter and Ashley McPhail. During this summer, both Laura and Ashley interned at Self-Help in Durham, NC. Their internships were supported by CASE’s Summer Internship Fund (learn more about SIF at the bottom on this post!)

Self-Help is a community development financial institution (CDFI) headquartered in Durham, NC. Working across a variety of functions to improve economic opportunity for all, Self-Help includes Self-Help Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, Self-Help Ventures Fund and the Center for Responsible Lending. Self-Help’s work is evident all over Durham. We were exposed to the organization early on through Day in Durham and a Net Impact cabinet meeting at the Center for Responsible Lending where we learned firsthand how Self-Help is working on the ground to make a difference in Durham, North Carolina and across the country.

Ashley learning about Self Help Credit Union's affordable housing work on the intern real estate tour.

Ashley learning about Self Help Credit Union’s affordable housing work on the intern real estate tour

Self-Help’s strategy to facilitate change and create economic opportunity is to lend to groups left out of traditional banking services, both commercial and personal. The Self-Help Ventures Fund is a nonprofit loan fund that manages Self-Help’s higher-risk business loans, real estate and home loan secondary market. During the summer, we worked in two different departments: Laura on the Secondary Markets program and Ashley on the Real Estate team.

Laura’s Secondary Markets Work

The Secondary Markets program was started in the early 1990’s in partnership with Fannie Mae to provide liquidity to the mortgage market for low and middle-income borrowers. Now the department also purchases portfolios of loans from other CDFIs and lenders. In Secondary Markets, I had many opportunities to use finance skills from the first year in analyzing portfolios of mortgages and home improvement loans. I built a cash flow model to assess prepayment and default rates to improve pricing assumptions for future purchases. This was something completely out of my comfort zone prior to coming to Fuqua, but between the support and encouragement of my team and supervisor and the skills I learned in Global Financial Management, Corporate Finance and Information Management, I felt confident in analyzing performance data.

In addition to working with Self-Help’s own loan portfolios, I performed external research on mortgage default rates to adjust and refine the assumptions made in purchasing portfolios. In my final presentation, I presented my findings to my team, and despite the fact that they live and breathe the mortgage market every day, I felt like my findings and opinions were valued and could really impact future purchasing decisions.

See Self-Help's profile on Maureen Joy School, a K-8 charter school in East Durham. Maureen Joy's current campus was purchased and refurbished as part of the Self-Help Ventures Fund. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGBQw0R8R0I

Click above to see Self-Help’s profile on Maureen Joy School, a K-8 charter school in East Durham. Maureen Joy’s current campus was purchased and refurbished as part of the Self-Help Ventures Fund.

Ashley’s Experience on the Real Estate Team

What makes Self-Help’s Real Estate team different than other commercial developers, is Self-Help looks for real estate projects that can revitalize low-income areas, promote sustainability, and/or create affordable housing. Self-Help first ventured into real estate in 1994, when it noticed how hard it was for a family to purchase affordable, quality housing in the historic Walltown neighborhood of Durham and thought that by investing in the development of affordable housing the organization could act as a catalyst for neighborhood change and growth. (Learn more about Self-Help’s work in Walltown here.)

As part of the team, I had the chance to put my newly acquired MBA finance and accounting skills to use on residential, commercial and mixed-use projects throughout North Carolina. I conducted and presented market research to support potential portfolio expansion by analyzing market fundamentals, government regulations, community impact and key trends. My corporate finance skills definitely came to use, when I modeled pro-forma cash flows and returns for residential and commercial projects with an emphasis on acquisition and development costs and potential rents and expenses. I will continue to learn more about real estate and will have the chance to apply my second year MBA skills to even more projects at Self-Help as I continue my internship throughout the year.

Coming from a traditional nonprofit background and a marketing/communications agency, we had little experience with nonprofits that successfully use traditional business concepts to both help the population they want to serve and support their own operations. Self-Help does both and makes a real difference in the lives of many. There is no better place to see the impact of Self-Help than Durham itself. From the residential transformation of the Walltown neighborhood to many of the restaurants Fuqua students frequent downtown, Self-Help’s stamp is all over our town. Working there for the summer gave both of us the opportunity to master our MBA skills, apply those skills to an impactful nonprofit organization, and to learn so much more about this place we have chosen to call home for two years.


The Summer Internship Fund (SIF) enables first year Duke MBA-Daytime students to learn about the rewards and challenges of social sector management without making a significant financial sacrifice. In addition, the program enables organizations that otherwise could not afford to hire MBA student interns to benefit from students’ expertise.  The SIF has supported more than 150 students, distributed nearly $470,000, and helped to further the mission of many nonprofit and government organizations. Funds are raised through student fundraising and from donors who believe in the mission of the program.  If you would like to contribute, you can donate online using your credit card.

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New book launches! “The Impact Investor”

ImpInv bookHot off the press! We’re excited to announce the launch of: The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism, co-authored by CASE i3 Director Cathy Clark, Jed Emerson, and Ben Thornley.

The Impact Investor is born out of the authors’ many years of experience in the impact investing field and their in-depth research on the best practices of high performing funds and investors.  As Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, says,

“Clark, Emerson, and Thornley are leaders in the impact investing space and with this book offer an opportunity to understand the field from every vantage point—offering real examples of funds that have more than proven the theory that you can do well by doing good. Over just a short period of time, impact investing has transformed from a new concept to a robust sector, with investment opportunities available to every type of investor.”

Designed to be a practical, hands-on resource, The Impact Investor includes case studies, lessons, and toolkits for a variety of audiences. Investors, financial services professionals, foundation and nonprofit leaders, policy makers, corporate leaders, and MBA students will all find something useful and thought provoking in the book.

With growing interest in opportunities to combine the pursuit of social value with financial return, The Impact Investor comes at an opportune time.  As the authors explain, impact investing is truly a cross-sector discipline, born out of market failure, based on theory of change methodology, and requiring rigorous financial metrics.  Collaboration across sectors – public, nonprofit, and business – is critical for success and continued growth of this field. The Impact Investor helps practitioners from each sector better understand the role they can play in building this movement.  Just as importantly, the book shines a light on the expertise, skills, and unique perspective we should seek in partnerships with those outside our own sector.  From the authors,

“While many books have been written about the skills needed to lead WITHIN organizations, the characteristics here are unique in that they are related to the skills needed to successfully lead ACROSS organizations.”

This is a good call to action for all of us to consider the steps we can take to act more collaboratively to address critical challenges and achieve significant social impact.

Congratulations to Cathy, Ben, and Jed on the release of this excellent resource for anyone committed to working towards a new era of collaborative capitalism. Learn more and purchase the book at: www.theimpactinvestorbook.com

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