Students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School will have new opportunities to gain hands-on experience with impact investment thanks to a innovative partnership with an online crowdfunding platform and an investment firm founded by Wharton MBAs, the school announced earlier this month.
The Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII), which coordinates the school’s social impact activities, research and opportunities, has partnered with equity-based online crowdfunding platform OurCrowd and investment firm Locust Walk Impact Partners to create what the school touts as the “largest and most active student-run impact investing fund in the world.” The new collaboration greatly expands the student-run Wharton Social Venture Fund (WSVF), which is operated under the WSII.
As part of the new initiative, WSII will train and supervise Wharton MBA students and select undergraduates to staff the WSVF. These students will then work with Locust Walk Impact Partners to identify investment opportunities, and a dedicated social impact channel on the OurCrowd platform will draw capital for these investments.
“We are delighted that our students are getting real-life, experiential education in impact investing,” WSII Senior Director Jacob Gray said in a statement. The partnership allows WSII to maintain its focus on educational opportunities for students, added Gray, who oversees the WSVF. “This way Locust Walk can focus on doing great deals, OurCrowd brings a platform for investors, and Wharton brings the best students in the world.”
WSVF, founded in 2007, features a portfolio of strategy and co-investment projects focused on companies in education, energy, health and wellness, food and nutrition, environmental sustainability and financial inclusion. Rob Fioretti (W’91, WG’99), who leads Locust Walk, has staffed his firm entirely with WSVF-trained MBAs.
OurCrowd, one of the largest and most active equity-funding crowd platforms, is excited to have more opportunity to raise funds for impact investing. “We have already invested in companies that are changing the world in diverse areas such as disabilities, gun safety, food security, malaria diagnostics, tsunami warning, prescription drug assurance and more,” OurCrowd CEO and Founder Jonathan Medved said in a statement. “By working together with Locust Walk and the Wharton Social Venture Fund, we will dramatically expand the impact investing ecosystem.”
The collaboration will take effect immediately, with the first deals expected to launch on the OurCrowd platform in Q2 2015, the school reports.