New Duke-Fuqua Center Balances Social Impact, Financial Returns

The Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business recently launched a new program that supports the development of impact investing. “CASE i3: The CASE Initiative on Impact Investing” focuses on establishing a rich set of resources and activities for students, entrepreneurs, investors, funders and academics.

“Impact investors seek to generate environmental and social impacts in addition to financial returns,” says Cathy Clark, a professor at Fuqua and director of CASE i3, in a news release.

“This emerging investment strategy, subject of a White House conference in June 2011, has developed as a way to expand the ability of for-profit and some nonprofit ventures to scale their impacts on critical problems such as energy, health and education. JP Morgan estimates that this market offers the potential for invested capital of $400 billion-$1 trillion and profits of $183-$667 billion over the next 10 years.”

In collaboration with the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, CASE faculty members will teach a new course on impact investing in spring 2012. In addition, they are writing new teaching cases on the subject and working with practitioners in the field to develop the new kinds of intermediary infrastructures to support entrepreneurs. To help guide its efforts, CASE i3 has established an advisory board, with John M. Buley Jr., managing director of JP Morgan Social Finance, serving as chair.

According to the school, CASE has been working for more than a year to coordinate global research for the nonprofit organization B Lab and its subsidiary, the Global Impact Investment Rating System, which is the first ratings system of impact investing funds.

Clark explains that high quality data is a critical need of this emerging academic field, and so the Center has been working with partners to develop a comprehensive database of impact objectives and practices.

“Within strict privacy guidelines, CASE i3 will continue to engage a broad research community in using the national and global data to answer essential questions about how impact investors generate financial returns and social impacts,” she says.



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