Reflections on Impact Investing: Our 2020-2021 MIINT Team

Spring 2021 |

Reflections by Hunter Bingham (MBA ’22), Kate Kirby (MBA ’22), and Sam Steele (MBA ’22)

Through the TFC, we were able to participate in the Turner MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) competition put on by Wharton and the Bridges Foundation. The Vanderbilt team was comprised of 5 students from across graduate disciplines. As we – Hunter, Sam & Kate – are three first-year MBA students, this experience gave us the opportunity to learn how other disciplines think and problem solve, working alongside Sadia Mubarik (M.A. Economic Development ’22) and Kevin Liu (MPH ’22).

In addition, we were given the opportunity to dip our toes into the pool of impact investing and really gain hands-on education and experience in the field.

Through MIINT, Wharton provided online training modules that helped to guide our team’s learning from how to source a company to navigating the pitch and due-diligence process. These training modules helped us understand how to analyze the impact companies may have on the community they are serving. This can be very subjective in nature, but it is a crucial step in the due-diligence process for impact investing.

Our team developed an investment thesis focused on early-stage companies hoping to solve critical financial inclusion and/or healthcare challenges posed by community inequities through inaccessibility to resources. With the help of the training modules and virtual workshops, our interdisciplinary team sourced and contacted seed-stage

 founders to further understand their companies, discover their funding round, and gauge their interest in having our team pitch their social enterprise for the competition. We focused our sourcing efforts on companies in which impact was fully embedded into the business model, with strong growth potential.

Through sourcing and conducting the due diligence process, our team narrowed down our list and selected Purple Financial as the start-up to move forward with. Purple addresses the need for banking services within the community of individuals with disabilities, which is typically overlooked by traditional financial services, by providing debit and checking services. One of our favorite parts of the process was working with the founders of Purple, a team of brothers, and hearing their passion for the community they were serving.

To conclude, the MIINT competition was an amazing opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the social impact space and engage with fellow graduate students from across the country. Next year, we hope to encourage the Vanderbilt MIINT team to consider engaging with more local companies as the Nashville start-up scene continues to boom. We would encourage any students interested in learning more about impact investing to consider applying to be on the MIINT team for 2022!