Impact Investing

A roundtable discussion bringing together investors, academics and experts to discuss some of the key questions surrounding impact investing. The webinar was moderated by David Wood, Initiative for Responsible Investment, Harvard University. All participants were invited to consider a set of questions beforehand and play an active part in this webinar discussion with several experienced academics, investors and experts.

Impact investing is now being defined by mainstream investors as an asset class. The aim of the webinar was to develop a better understanding of impact investing, its potential application and its prospects for growth.
The webinar aimed at generating a lively debate between academics, experts and practitioners around some of the key questions raised by the growing popularity of this investment strategy. These questions were:

  1. What is impact investing, where does it come from? Why has it become popular so rapidly?
  2. Who ‘does’ impact investing? What are the differences between these institutions? Are there common goals and/or possible conflicts between them?
  3. Is mainstream interest in impact investing reflected in actual growth in investments? What are the barriers of impact investing becoming mainstream?
  4. What roles should the organisations involved with impact investing play to manage growth-related risks and maximise ‘impact’?

This webinar took the format of a roundtable discussion. All participants were invited to consider the above questions before the webinar and participate in an open discussion with several experienced academics, investors and experts (speaker details see below) moderated by David Wood, Director, Initiative for Responsible Investment, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University.

Questions & Answers



 David Wood, Director of the Institute for Responsible Investment (IRI), Boston College

David Wood is Director of the Institute for Responsible Investment (IRI), where he conducts research on responsible investment and its applications. He is co-director, with Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona, of the Responsible Property Investing Center, and also works on the More for Mission Campaign, a project dedicated to growing the field of foundations engaged in using their endowment investments to further their mission. Recent projects at the IRI include the production of a Handbook on Responsible Investment across Asset Classes and a follow-up Climate-Related Investment across Asset Classes; the development of the field of Responsible Property Investing; research on the role of banking in mission investment; field building in the emerging field of responsible investment consulting; research on the production and dissemination of corporate social reports; and research into investor use of corporate reporting on non financial information. Prior to his work at Boston College, Wood taught the history of ethics, ethical and economic thought, and human rights theory at Boston University. He holds a Ph.D in History from the Johns Hopkins University. In 2008 he was elected to the Board of the Social Investment Forum.

 Euan Marshall, Program Manager, IFC

Euan Marshall is the Program Manager for IFC’s Sustainable Investment Advisory work base in DC and leads the global program in this area. Prior to joining this team he established and managed IFC’s Advisory program in the Philippines and its Sustainability program in Indonesia. Before joining IFC he worked in the Asian capital markets firstly on the sell side and then as Business Development Director in the early days of ASrIA. He has an MBA from Oxford and a BA from Bristol University.

 Dr. Tessa Hebb, Director, Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, Carleton University

Dr Tessa Hebb is the Director of the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, Carleton University, Canada. Her research focuses on the financial and extra-financial impact of pension fund investment in Canada and internationally with particular emphasis on Responsible Investment and Corporate Engagement and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Government of Canada. The Carleton Centre for Community Innovation is a leading knowledge producer on social finance tools and instruments. Dr. Hebb is also a senior research associate with the Oxford University Centre for the Environment and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. In 2008 she completed a multi-year research project revitalization funded by Rockefeller and Ford Foundations on the role of US public sector pension funds and urban revitalization, based at the Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School. Dr. Hebb has published many articles on pension fund investing policies and is the co-editor of the volume Working Capital the Power of Labor’s Pensions. Her book No Small Change: Pension Fund Corporate Engagement is available from Cornell University Press. Dr. Hebb also co-chairs the PRI Academic Network Steering Committee which develops the network’s research and outreach strategies.

 Prof. Harry Hummels, Managing Director, Impact Investing, SNS Asset Management

 Jonathan Hera, Director of Investor Relations, Sarona Asset Management

Jonathan Hera, Associate and Investor Relations Director, oversees Sarona’s social and environmental monitoring and evaluation systems as an integral part of the overall fund management and investor relations processes. He is also an investment officer involved in Sarona’s transactions. Prior to joining Sarona, Jonathan worked with CGAP on several initiatives including strategic SME financing opportunities, third party certification demand and multiple internal knowledge management projects. Jonathan is an Adjunct Professor at the Schulich School of Business and teaches an MBA course dedicated to microfinance and impact investing. He is also a CFA Candidate. Previously, Jonathan worked with MEDA in developing a Paraguayan MFI’s financial model and internal control systems. He also sat on the Board of Directors of CEPAL, the Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange, an awareness-raising and education-focused INGO. Jonathan holds an International MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University, received a BA in Political Science with a minor in Italian from McGill University and earned a Nonprofit Leadership Diploma from the University for Peace, Costa Rica.

 Georgette Wong, Creator & Curator, Take Action! Impact Investing Conference Series

Georgette Wong is the Creator & Curator of the Take Action! Impact Investing Conference Series and President, Correlation Consulting. Now in its fourth year, Take Action! is the premier gathering of impact investors focused on premium returns. The 2010 Take Action! Boston event brought together investors representing over $4.1 trillion. Over the last eighteen years, Georgette has: advised families, foundations and Fortune 100 businesses on public and private investments; developed and funded early stage companies; and created organizations focused on strategic philanthropy and partnerships between the business and social sectors. Before starting Correlation Consulting, she was a Director of Client Relationships for Sterling Stamos, a multi-billion dollar private investment firm. She is currently an advisor to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Center for Community Development Investments on an initiative to integrate social performance and financial metrics between the government and the impact investment field. She is a leading speaker and advisor on trends in impact investing. Her most recent work has been published in Solutions for Impact Investors: From Strategy to Implementation, produced by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Financial Planning Magazine. Georgette received an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles and BA magna cum laude from Amherst College.

 Jed Emerson, Founder, Blended Value

Jed Emerson is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Social Investing at Heidelberg University (Germany); a Senior Advisor to The Sterling Group (a multi-family office based in Hong Kong pursuing a sustainable/impact investing strategy for its clients); and is Executive Vice-President of ImpactAssets, a nonprofit financial services firm creating impact investing products to bridge the asset owner/impact fund market. He has held faculty appointments at Harvard, Stanford and Oxford Business schools. He is internationally recognized as a thought leader, originated the concept of Blended Value and has presented his work at the World Economic Forum, CGI and other events around the world.