Monday, June 02, 2014 at 1am

US$5M of Social Impact Investing at Saïd Business School: MBA News

US$5M of Social Impact Investing at Saïd Business School: MBA News main image

The establishment of a new impact investing fund at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School will see MBA and specialized master’s students given US$5 million with which to invest in social impact projects through the bond market.

The money for the Saïd Business School Impact Bond Fund comes courtesy of Zions Bank and investments must be made in projects showing a high potential for engineering positive social change – for instance in the realms of education, healthcare, or the environment.

As well as providing backing for worthy social impact projects, the primary goal of the initiative is to give students on the Oxford MBA and MSc in Financial Economics programs at Saïd Business School hands-on experience of the bond market and of managing investments.

“Students will have to carefully research the market and demonstrate sound financial and ethical judgement in seeking out suitable bonds for investment,” said John Hoffmire, an expert in impact investing at Saïd Business School who will act as director of the new fund.

Students to analyze bond market opportunities

A total of 15 Saïd Business School students will take part in the dispersal of the US$5 million kitty. Beginning in small teams, students will look for bond market opportunities with a particular form of social impact in mind before presenting their recommendations to the group at large.

The group’s choice of bond market investments will then be subject to vote. All investments made will be short-term and sold after eight weeks, with any profits returned to the sponsors, Zions Bank.  

Looking for a positive social impact together with a prudent eye on potential returns is the ultimate aim, as one specialized master’s student, David Subel, says: “Our strategy is aimed at demonstrating that investment returns and social considerations can, indeed, be complementary.”

The initiative should serve to reinforce the validity of investing in projects that yield a positive social impact – otherwise known as impact investing – while still turning a profit. Impact investing is just one example of an ethical MBA career, of which you can read more about here. Indeed, business ethics as a whole is becoming much more than just a buzzword and a key challenge for business schools is to increase students’ exposure to ethical approaches in their MBA curricula.

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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