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Georgetown Students Publish Primer on the Intersection of Impact Investing and International Development

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By Michael McLaughlin (MBA’15)

“Impacting investing” is abuzz. Yet what it truly is and how it works is still not understood by many investors both in the private and public sectors, in part because it means different things to different people.

Under the direction of Accelerating Market-Driven Partnerships (AMP) Executive Director Robert Foster, AMP- GSEI Fellows Trent Van Alfen (M’15), Jenna Balkus (M’15), and Maria Luque (M’15) clarified the often cluttered landscape of impact investing participants, theories, and innovations in a new primer that explores the intersection between impact investment and international development. “The primer and our work with GSEI illustrates the innovative and interdisciplinary approach that is necessary to catalyze investments and curate partnerships to foster sustainable and inclusive societies,” stated Foster.

All three of the students agreed that their priority was to make the report concise and engaging. “I found the wide range of opinions about impact investing surprising. Although all of the people mentioned in the primer are leaders in the field, they contradicted one another with very convincing arguments,” explained Luque. Van Alfen emphasized that a unique feature of the primer was the inclusion of video links to easily connect readers with the thought leaders who inform this type of research. The primer has already been touted by the US Department of Commerce.

The GSEI-AMP partnership, now in its second year, was originally launched with the U.S. State Department and promotes a shift from aid to public-private investments in scalable solutions that address economic, social and environmental needs in emerging markets. The collaboration has afforded GSEI Student Leaders direct experience in learning the realities of international investments requiring a balance of financial and social returns, as well as how public-private partnerships require balancing varied interests.

The Fellows are currently working with AMP on the next chapter of the primer which will focus on public-private partnerships. “Although I plan to pursue a career in corporate finance, down the line I want to be involved in impact investing and this project has been a great way to stay up to speed with new developments in the field,” Balkus said. “The work I’m doing with AMP blends both my career and extracurricular interests.”

Now that the groundwork for their research on the role of impact investing in international development has been laid, the students hope to garner more publicity for their work. Van Alfen explained that “reports on impact investing are often lengthy or complex. This primer is meant to be a simple way to inform and excite people about this type of investment and its potential to create social change.”

Related Link(s):

The Intersection of Impact Investing and International Development: A Primer