Impact Investing

At the ESG Initiative, we recognize the vital role that traditional capital markets and private sector actors can play in tackling the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

That’s why we’re working to grow the talent and evidence base to guide and strengthen the practice of impact investing. Impact investing is a strategy for generating positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

Our programs give students hands-on experience in impact investing.

Define your impact thesis. Source and conduct due-diligence on impact start-ups. Pitch to the investment committee. Build your impact portfolio. And get ready to launch the career you really want.


The field wants rigorous, independent, evidence-based answers. We do too.

  • How strong are impact investing financial returns?
  • Is there a tradeoff between the impact and financial performance of impact investments?
  • In what industries and geographies is impact investing most likely to yield strong returns and strong impact?

At the ESG Initiative, we know the power of data, analytics, and evidence to drive capital. As the academic leader in impact investing research, we are building the databases, conducting the research, and partnering with renowned faculty to answer these questions and more.


Hear from industry leaders and academic experts.

Thematic Research on Impact Investing

Impact investing with a gender lens is a form of investing in which investors seek to generate both a positive financial return on their investment and a beneficial impact on the lives of women.

Impact investing with a gender lens has tremendous potential. But how can investing really improve the lives of women? How many funds are providing this opportunity to investors, what exactly are they doing, and at what scale? What makes a company good for women? These are some of the questions we’re out to answer.

At the ESG Initiative, we have been researching gender lens impact investing since 2014 and have collaborated with U.S. Trust, Criterion Institute, Women Effect, and others in our work to define, capture trends, and illustrate current gaps in knowledge. As such, we bring a keen awareness of the work that has been done in the space over the last few, formative years.

Place-based impact investing is impact investing with a focus on specific local or regional communities.

Investors seek to generate a positive financial return on their investment as well as regional impact, such as job growth, innovation, business development, and industry expansion in a specific geographical area. Learn more from former Wharton staff about this approach.