This course provides a detailed introduction to the emerging sector of impact investing, equipping students with vital, practitioner-focused skills in the following areas: 1) equity, debt and alternative investment structuring for early- through late-stage social ventures; 2) assessment of impact and financial value for companies and investment portfolios; 3) legal and governance strategies to preserve mission-focus throughout organizational scale; and 4) role of investment funds and philanthropy in building the impact investing marketplace. The course content is split into three modules, covering the key finance techniques, funds and infrastructure and market-level issues and opportunities. Sessions are almost exclusively case-based and students will be required to prepare multiple investment proposals for the case studies used. Overall, the course aims to communicate the complex dynamics between investors and social ventures in valuation and structuring, the challenges around defining and measuring social impact and finally the inevitable conflict between financial and social return that occurs regardless of business model. Impact investing is a rapidly evolving sector and up-to-date publications and articles will be provided throughout.
John Walker was a Columbia Business School faculty member from to 2016.