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Intern Spotlight: Summer Zhou | Impact Investing

Authored By: Summer Zhou on 2/9/2024

MIT FCU was so excited to host three interns throughout the month of January as part of the MIT PKG internship program. This year's theme was Tech for Social Good, and one of our marketing interns, Summer Zhou, researched how Blockchain is revolutionizing finance as we know it.

Driving Positive Change: An Introduction to Impact Investing

As I navigated through my personal broker account on an investing platform, I stumbled upon a section in my portfolio that had previously escaped my attention – the impact dashboard. This feature assesses each company I hold stocks in, providing a comprehensive portfolio impact score. Intrigued by this, I delved into further research and uncovered that many platforms offer an ESG commitment level assessment, indicating a company's dedication to Environmental, Social, and Governance principles and practices. In a world where awareness of social and environmental issues is growing, the social responsibility of a business has become a crucial factor influencing investment decisions. Impact investing, characterized by considerations of a company’s social impact alongside monetary value, has emerged as an influential tool for driving positive change. This article explores the concepts of impact investing, introduces the practice and principles, and elucidates why such an approach yields long-term benefits.

To begin, the primary objective of impact investing is to generate measurable, positive social and environmental outcomes alongside financial returns. Investors actively seek opportunities that address global challenges such as climate change, poverty alleviation, and healthcare improvement. An impact investor is someone who intentionally desires to contribute to positive social changes and invests in companies aligned with their personal values.

When choosing investments, it's crucial for an impact investor to receive a measurable analysis of a company’s positive social impact. This is where the ESG commitment level plays a pivotal role. Measurable values in the environmental aspect include greenhouse emissions, water conservation, and waste management. In the social aspect, values like diversity and inclusion, labor practices, and ethical leadership matter. Governance aspects measurable values include the diversity of the board, anti-corruption measures, and executive compensation. To actively engage in impact investing, one can use their investment platform to identify businesses with unethical practices. By selecting specific aspects of the ESG commitment level they are particularly committed to, investors can ensure their portfolio aligns with their values.

Engaging in impact investing contributes not only to a more sustainable and socially responsible global economy but also offers relative security in financial returns. Ethically operated companies are more likely to garner support from an audience increasingly conscious of positive impacts. By avoiding companies with poor relationships or corrupted boards, investors are less exposed to the risk of dramatic decreases in stock value resulting from potential collapses.

In conclusion, in a landscape where ethical considerations are increasingly crucial, impact investing stands out as a proactive approach to aligning financial activities with positive change. With impact investing, individuals contribute not only to their portfolios but also to a more sustainable and socially responsible global economy.

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