Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA) is an experiential education program that gives a cohort of Wharton undergraduate and graduate students, along with other Penn students, hands-on, real-world experience in impact investing.

The WIVA team sources early-stage companies that have both a compelling business model and the potential for significant social or environmental impact.
With guidance and training from ESG Initiative staff, WIVA students conduct research based on rigorous investment and impact criteria. If we identify a promising company, WIVA then connects the company founders to crowdfunding platforms.
Starting in the 2023-2024 academic year, the Wharton ESG Initiative will also offer a WIVA climate track. WIVA for Climate focuses on sourcing early-stage companies that are developing innovative technologies or business models to address the urgent challenges of climate change, such as renewable energy, carbon sequestration, circular economy, and climate resilience. 
Key Figures:
  • WIVA has spurred $2M in impact investments
  • Over 1,500 Companies Sourced
  • 64 WIVA Associates (students) and Alumni

Learn More About WIVA

Students: Join WIVA

  • Through a competitive application process each year, the ESG Initiative selects several Wharton and Penn undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students to join WIVA.
  • You will join a best-in-class impact investing educational program that mirrors typical investment fund activities.
  • You will also learn cutting-edge impact management and measurement practices, hear from industry experts, and attend networking opportunities throughout the impact investing community.

Entrepreneurs: Get in Touch

  • The WIVA team seeks compelling early-stage impact enterprises that have a positive social or environmental impact and offer an attractive financial return.
  • WIVA looks for companies that are raising their Seed or Series A round of financing.
  • After conducting rigorous research, WIVA students connect select enterprises to leading crowdfunding platforms like Republic.co, WeFunder, and Netcapital.

Researched Companies

7 Generation Games

7 Generation Games

Education technology aimed to improve learning outcomes for Indigenous students.

70 Million Jobs Logo

70 Million Jobs

An employment agency for people with criminal records.

Borrow Logo


A subscription service for electrical vehicles.

Innamed Logo


At-home blood testing device.

Melanence logo


Online professional ecosystem where communities of color are empowered to grow skills, build networks, and earn additional income.

Mytaptrack Logo


An Internet of Things (IoT) device and online platform for children with special needs.

Superbetter Logo


Science-backed app addressing mental health challenges for youth.

Wearwell Logo


Ethically-sourced clothing sold by subscription.

Student Research Team

ESG Initiative Staff

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Rajith Sebastian, WG’17, CFA

Head of Impact Investments, ESG Initiative

Vaibhav Cropped

Vaibhav Gowda

Impact Program Associate, ESG Initiative

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Jay Corbin

Program Coordinator, ESG Initiative

WIVA Alumni



Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA) is an experiential education program that gives a cohort of Wharton and Penn graduate and undergraduate students hands-on, real-world experience in impact investing.

The program mirrors typical investment fund activities, and Associates have access and exposure to deals, entrepreneurs, investors, faculty, and other partners. To catalyze cross-disciplinary innovation and investment performance, teams include students from Wharton, Penn Engineering, Penn Law, Penn Medicine, the College of Arts and Science, etc.

Every year, WIVA sources 400+ impactful enterprises. Students are held to the same standard as typical venture capital associates as they source deals and meticulously screen the business and impact models of companies. WIVA students also pitch these companies on a weekly basis to an “investment committee”—other WIVA team members who ask tough questions to assess if the impact investing opportunity is worth pursuing.

After conducting rigorous research on these companies—including frequent contact with the founders—WIVA students connect select enterprises to leading crowdfunding platforms like Netcapital, Republic.co, and Seedinvest. Through connections made by WIVA, companies have received over $2 million in impact investments via crowdfunding platforms.


WIVA targets early-stage, for-profit companies in the United States that combine the promise of market-rate financial returns and meaningful social or environmental impact.

We work with companies that are raising Seed or Series A rounds of financing, and we focus on companies looking for $50,000 to $1,000,000 in investment.

These companies must have at least some of the following characteristics:

  1. They help people meet basic needs. They make it possible for all people to gain access to adequate food, clean water, sanitation, shelter, income, and physical security.
  2. They create opportunities. They allow individuals to gain access to education, employment, financial services, and other resources that promote economic advancement, autonomy, and security.
  3. They increase environmental sustainability. They reduce environmental pollution, combat climate change, and promote the acceptance and use of “green” energy, products, and services.


WIVA’s impact assessment methodology leverages our knowledge of industry best practices and our commitment to an evidence-based approach.

With support from the ESG Initiative’s team of impact professionals, WIVA assesses a company’s impact potential based on research-validated strategies for achieving social and environmental benefits. We work with entrepreneurs to identify key performance indicators related to their company’s impact objectives. We also actively engage with entrepreneurs to ensure financial returns and impact outcomes are maximized.

Questions we ask when assessing impact include:

  1. What impact is being created?
  2. Who exactly is being helped?
  3. How much?
  4. Would it have happened anyway?
  5. What is the risk/volatility of the impact?
  6. What does the evidence suggest about the company’s impact?
  7. How strong is the evidence?
  8. Is the company prioritizing scale or effect?
  9. How is impact tracked?


We are eager to work with current students across the entire University, regardless of your school or year of education. Applications opened on Monday, August 28, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. ET and closed on September 10, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET. We also recruit full-time interns for the summer during the spring semester.

Sign up for the ESG Initiative’s email list to be in the loop about upcoming opportunities to join WIVA.


The WIVA team is rigorously trained in industry best practices and leverages the impact investing expertise of the ESG Initiative. We’ve spoken to over 1,000 entrepreneurs, and we understand the complex challenges you might be facing. Reach out and send your pitch deck to wiva-esgi@wharton.upenn.edu.


A gift to the ESG Initiative at the Wharton School helps us develop the next generation of leaders in impact investing by providing best-in-class training to Penn and Wharton students. Contact us to learn more.

Join Wharton’s premier impact investing group.


Neither the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School, Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), nor any of their respective students, faculty, directors, officers, employees, representatives, affiliates, or agents (collectively, the “Penn Parties”) (i) is acting as underwriter, broker-dealer, promoter, financial advisor, or other intermediary with respect to any offering of securities by any entity mentioned in this article, or (ii) has received or will receive any compensation from any person or entity as an incentive to publish of this article.  In addition, the Penn Parties have not received and will not receive any compensation or other item of value in connection with any possible or future investment in any securities issued by any entity mentioned herein.

Any research or diligence described above (i) was performed by WIVA solely for its own, limited, educational purposes, and not for the purpose of aiding any person in making any investment decision, and (ii) may be limited and incomplete, by its very nature, as a result of limited publicly available information and other limited information voluntarily made available to WIVA.  No Penn Party shall have any liability whatsoever arising from any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in, or lack of care in the preparation or publication of, this article.

Copyright ©2023 the Wharton School.  All rights reserved.  The information, methodologies, data and opinions contained or reflected herein are proprietary of the Wharton School and/or its students, are intended for non-commercial use, and may not be copied, distributed or used in any way, including via citation, unless otherwise explicitly agreed in writing.  They are provided for informational purposes only and (1) do not constitute investment or financial advice; (2) cannot be interpreted as an offer, indication, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any securities or to undertake any kind of business transactions; (3) do not represent an assessment of any issuer’s economic performance, financial obligations nor of its creditworthiness; and (4) are not a substitute for a professional financial, legal, and tax advice.