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Friday, April 7, 2017

Has Impact Investing Been Inflated?

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Session Description

The field of impact investing has exploded in the last decade, with billions of dollars committed to various impact investment vehicles, and increasing research into financial and social returns. The consensus seems to be that impact investing is a powerful tool, producing both impressive social and financial returns. Are expectations of market rate returns unrealistic? How can we best assess impact? Four experts will share their evidence and argue the case. You’ll decide: has impact investing has been oversold, or will it live up to the hope?

When | Where

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Friday, April 7 Lecture Theatre 4



Session leaders

  • Chris West Speaker
    Partner, Sumerian Partners
    Chris has a background in business and development. He is a co-founder of Sumerian Partners, and was the former Director of the Shell Foundation. Chris has a track record in applying an “enterprise-based” approach to philanthropy, being an early pioneer of “impact investing”. Through his leadership of Shell Foundation he supported the creation and scale-up of a portfolio of leading global social enterprises. He is the author of various reports including Shell Foundation’s Enterprise Solutions to Poverty (2005), Enterprise Solutions to Scale (2010) and Accelerating Access to Energy (2014). He received the World CSR award for “Social Innovation” in 2013. Chris completed his Doctorate in Ecology at Oxford University and then set up a business in the environmental services sector. He then acted as senior environment adviser at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). He has worked with a variety of donors, governments, NGO’s and businesses in over 100 low and middle income countries and has lived in both West and East Africa.
  • Julia Sze Moderator
    Managing Director, Impact Investing, Arabella Advisors
    Julia Sze, CFA is Managing Director of impact investing at Arabella Advisors, a philanthropic consulting firm. She has over 25 years of experience in the investment management field, with specializations in impact investing, emerging markets, and alternative investments. Previous experience includes building a start up specialized impact investment manager, acting as chief investment officer for a multifamily office, launching and managing an Asia Pacific hedge fund, and managing several award-winning funds in Asia, including the first fund to invest in Chinese equities. Julia serves on the boards of the Marin Community Foundation and New Resource Bank. She has served as an advisory board member and finals judge for the Global Social Venture Competition, on the investment committees of the Marin Community Foundation and the Mill Valley Public Schools Endowment, as an expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School of Business, and on the finance committees of the Opportunity Fund and the College of Marin. Julia holds a BA in economics and an MA in East Asian studies from Stanford University.
  • Lisa Kleissner Speaker
    Co-Founder, Toniic
    Lisa Kleissner is joyfully aligning her family capital with her business acumen to help make the world a better place. An impact investor since 2000, Lisa advocates, teaches, writes and muses about the impact experience. Lisa co-founded the KL Felicitas Foundation (, and Toniic Institute ( These organizations are building a movement to bring down the barriers to impact investing while transforming how we define and create wealth. Lisa co-founded Social-Impact International ( and Hawai’i Investment Ready ( to identify, capacity build and scale regional and indigenous social enterprise. T100: Launch – Insights from the Frontier of Impact Investing The Toniic E-Guide to Global Early-Stage Impact Investing The Toniic E-Guide to Impact Measurement Creating a Better Future Through Transparency Noteworthy publications on the work of the KL Felicitas Foundation include: Evolution of an Impact Portfolio: From Implementation to Results Case Study: KL Felicitas Foundation
  • Mara Bolis Speaker
    Senior Advisor, Private Sector Department, Oxfam America
    Mara has over 15 years of experience working in the fields of international development, emerging markets finance and business. Mara leads on Oxfam's work on shareholder advocacy directd at US corporations, as well as influencing work on impact investing. Mara is the global lead on the Women in Small Enterprise initiative, which includes Oxfam America’s first impact investing fund that focuses on women entrepreneurs in Latin America. Prior to Oxfam, Mara consulted with the Middle East Investment Initiative, a public-private partnership of the Aspen Institute, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Palestinian Investment Fund, to develop a new form of small business insurance to help Palestinian exporters hindered by travel restrictions. Prior to that she worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as an emerging markets financial sector analyst. She has worked with various international finance and development organizations, including US Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the World Bank. She has an MBA from Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Mara speaks fluent Latvian and basic Russian.
  • Cathy Clark Speaker
    Faculty Director of CASE and CASE i3, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship
    Named in 2014 one of the top 20 women in the USA working in philanthropy, social innovation and civic engagement, Cathy Clark has been an active researcher, educator, and consultant for over 25 years in the fields of impact investing and social entrepreneurship. She serves as Faculty Director at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where she founded and directs the CASE i3 Initiative on Impact Investing and co-leads the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD). She is also lead author of CASE’s online learning series for impact entrepreneurs, CASE Smart Impact Capital, and co-author of CASE’s ScalingPathways series, in partnership with the Skoll Foundation, USAID’s Global Development Lab and MercyCorps. A former impact investment fund manager and private foundation program officer, Clark’s work has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, intermediaries, and governments around the globe improve their ability to use business as a tool for good. She helped develop the standards for B Corporations, and was the recipient of the 2017 B Champions Award for service in building the B Corporation movement. Clark was also the sole academic member of the G8 Social Impact Investment Taskforce US National Advisory Board, and was invited to track $2.5 billion in new impact investments by the Obama White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Engagement. She is co-author of The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism, which reached #18 in finance textbooks on Amazon in 2014. Cathy holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Columbia Business School, and tweets at @cathyhc.