What we learned our first semester and how you can help empower the next generation of leaders in impact investing.
Last year we created Profit with Purpose with a mission to educate, connect, and empower students to think about investing differently. We do this through workshops, building relationships, and providing experiences in impact investing. Check out an overview of what we accomplished in our first semester.
We experimented plenty and figured out what worked and what didn’t. Here’s what we hypothesized and what actually happened:
There’s an outspoken demand from all types of students to learn more about careers in doing well and doing good.
This semester, our applicant pool grew both in quality and quantity (3x). When interviewing, we focused on three things: diversity, passion, and competence. After a quick and rigorous selection process, we welcomed our new members to grow with us this semester. Our cohort is 40% women, almost an even split between underclassmen and upperclassmen, and no one school (Commerce, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, etc.) makes up more than 25% of our membership. Diversity is something many business related organizations at the University struggle with, we believe it enables us to identify blind spots we miss throughout our program and is imperative with what we hope to accomplish in impact investing. This awesome work couldn’t have been done without our Outreach team led by Trisha Sinha.
If members attend our workshops and complete activities, then they’ll have a worthwhile experience.
While partially true, we we’re mostly wrong. We learned plenty on what it means to teach. Finding the right balance of content, activities, and practitioner engagement is something we continue to iterate. We’ve revamped the way we do workshops, working sessions, and all the events in-between. We also struggled with engagement. This stemmed from a larger issue of community-building. There’s a pervasive culture of competition that deepens silos throughout the university, especially with anything business related. We didn’t do a good job of negating it and have taken concrete steps to construct a better community through fostering trust and transparency. We’re upfront with where we are with the growth of our organization, encourage constructive feedback at every opportunity, and facilitate a program which encourages collaboration and relationships. I’m thrilled for the semester Sajal Rohatgi and team have in store.
Alumni, professional organizations, and the University will be more than willing to support Profit with Purpose.
This was true on many fronts and we learned plenty about what it meant to work with people outside our organization. Being professional, specific, and communicating the value-add has been important in our strategy of finding mentors to support our members, inviting experts to speak on panels and during events, and supporting entrepreneurs through our due diligence program.
Last semester, investors like Paul Nolde of New Richmond Ventures, David Touve of the iLab at UVA, and John Griffin of Blue Ridge Labs spoke to our community on the importance of supporting scalable and sustainable solutions to complex social problems. Entrepreneurs like Chip Ransler of Husk Power Systems and Alex Goodman of 118 Capital came to share their stories and analyze our impact investment pitches. Practitioners are a crucial part of our program and we hope to continue inviting these pioneers to engage with our community.
That’s what we’ve been up to! If you’re excited and would like to support our mission of empowering future leaders in impact investing, here are a few ways you can help:
- If you’re a professional working at an impact investing organization, please consider being a mentor to one of our members. This is a low commitment opportunity that can span career, project, and general life advice! Please reach out to our Director of Outreach, Trisha Sinha or comment below.
- If you lead an impact investing organization, come talk to us about the partnerships we’re looking to build. This involve providing insights on our curriculum, co-sponsoring an event, or facilitating an in-person company visit. Please reach out to our Co-President, Ady Sethi or comment below.
- If you’re an entrepreneur in healthcare, energy, financial inclusion, agriculture, or education and would like to work with a team of trained undergraduates who can analyze your venture’s case for investment readiness, please reach out to me, Mohammad.
We’re incredibly excited for the road ahead and thank all the support from SE@UVA, 118 Capital, Village Capital, and the many more who continue to inspire, advise, and join us!
I spent my day in NYC volunteering at SOCAP’s new initiative: The Good Capital Project. Here’s my take on what it was and why it mattered.