In a radical approach to investing, education and engagement, The James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center at the University of Utah partnered with Sorenson’s foundation to vet and invest in five social enterprises.
The university center trains students through experiential learning; they work directly with social enterprises, corporations, family offices, impact funds and other private family foundations. For example, the $2 million worth of financing for the five social enterprises, including solar energy, affordable housing, fair trade clothing manufacturing, among other small and medium enterprises, was implemented by students. They sourced, screened, vetted and structured each investment focusing the companies' potential to produce sustainable and scalable social impact.
The companies that received the financing were:
Copia - Kenya-based consumer catalog and rural distribution company
Kinara Capital - India-based financing company for micro and small enterprises
Liberty & Justice - Fair-trade apparel manufacturing company with offices in Liberia and Ghana
Simpa Networks - India-based pay-as-you-go solar financing company
World Haus - India-based affordable housing construction company
The whole impact investing ecosystem being developed by Sorenson is a great idea and wonderful display of finance and philanthropy. Its mission will certainly accelerate the growth of the sector at-large and help lead to improved societal change on a global scale, as Sorenson says he hopes to do.
"These investments will serve to close funding gaps, helping social enterprises to prove out their businesses, with the additional benefit of cultivating impact investing expertise in students,” Sorenson said. Check out http://sorensonimpactfoundation.org/ and http://sgiicenter.org/.