As I entered the Presidio in breathtaking San Francisco, I was excited to start my MBA summer internship at RSF Social Finance. Having worked in finance and consulting before Wharton, I was attracted to this role by the opportunity it presented to apply my learnings to support social entrepreneurs and challenge my thinking around traditional investing and business strategy. I had prior experience in impact investing via Wharton Impact Investing Partners and was eager to continue building my skills and knowledge of social finance that summer at RSF.
With guidance from RSF’s Chief Investment Officer, Susie Lee, I took on several interesting projects that broadened my understanding of impact investing and social finance. One project I worked on was the newly launched Women’s Capital Collaborative, a fund focused on the economic empowerment of women and girls. In completing a landscape analysis of gender lens funding to inform the fund’s decision-makers, I learned about integrated capital, a unique approach for providing diverse forms of capital to entrepreneurs that range from loans to equity. Don’t assume the flexibility makes this work any easier though. By performing due diligence on investment opportunities, I learned of the rigor and dedication that RSF staffers bring to supporting social entrepreneurs while safeguarding investor principal. I can recall many discussions with my RSF colleagues on business models, impact metrics, and the role of funding.
Another endeavor I dedicated my time to that summer was the analysis of an equity raise for a longtime client doing sustainable beverage production and distribution. I was thrilled to leverage my prior experience in consulting global beverage companies and share key insights with the team. After completing a valuation model, I was also able to supply our client with high-level recommendations, some of which were taken on.
The final project I worked on that summer was to support RSF’s philanthropic asset management. Using past knowledge of developing markets, I evaluated two high-impact organizations with global reach for investment. As part of the diligence process, I met the prospective fund’s management teams and learned of their strategic vision for achieving both financial and social returns.
On a professional level, working at RSF provided me with various opportunities to speak with my colleagues and industry leaders and further expanded my knowledge in the impact investing space. Discussions about different asset classes, return expectations, and assessing impact stimulated my understanding, not just about social finance, but also the role of capital in our society.
Personally, I cherished the moments of bonding that I shared with RSF colleagues. I enjoyed attending Barry’s Boot Camp in the early morning, eating at food trucks overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, and the now renowned ‘80s music and costume party at our beautiful Presidio office. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect summer.
I am so grateful to everyone at RSF who trusted me with substantial responsibilities while enabling me to make an impact last summer. I shall bring all I’ve learned to Wharton and beyond.
This post was originally published on RSFsocialfinance.org
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