In November, MBA students joined the Sustainable and Impact Finance Initiative for our Impact Search Funds – Multi-School Panel Event. The virtual event brought together three industry panelists as well as business students from Haas, Wharton, Stanford, University of Chicago, IESE, and more.

Throughout the session, our search fund panelists shared their unique perspectives on how the search fund industry can incorporate social and environmental impact into this investment opportunity. They discussed the opportunities and challenges they have faced as pioneers in the space as well as their investment theses in impact search.

Topics addressed during the discussion included: panelists visions of an ‘impact search fund’, conceptualizing social or environmental impact for the search fund industry and how search funds could be a tool to leverage in democratizing access to capital and ownership.

Lacey Wismer is the founder of Hunter Search Capital and the first woman to create an investment fund to invest in search funds. On the evolution of this asset class, Wismer detailed the tremendous growth and returns that have brought more investors into the search fund space. As this asset class matures, returns will likely be brought down, creating more space for more diverse opportunities to be pursued – including those with an impact focus. Across the industry, she sees a greater commitment to diversity in searchers and investments in the next generation of leaders in the space.

Adam Rose is the COO at Obran Cooperative and founder of the Search Fund Accelerator, a program where participating searchers gain access to the tools needed to find, acquire, and lead a company under Obran’s cooperative conglomerate model. Rose recognized that with a growing Baby Boomer population, there are more businesses than ever looking for a transition in ownership. Obran’s accelerator program aims to support this transition and leverage it to increase access to ownership and capital, by investing in diverse searches that ultimately transition to worker owned businesses.

Athena Kiriacopoulou is a Partner at Skipping Stones Capital Partners. Through Kiriacopoulou’s search, she leads as an example that impact search funds can maximize returns and reduce risk, all while bringing great purpose to the forefront. Her vision for impact in search funds combines social and environmental impact analysis of all stages of the business, from it’s employees to supply chains, manufacturing and final products.

For MBA students interested in venturing into impact search funds, our panelists suggested connecting and meeting with people within the investor community. Investors like to see deeply passionate entrepreneurs and then it’s your work to find investors who are aligned with your vision of impact.

“You are the future CEO and the one putting in a bunch of sweat equity, so feel empowered by that.” – Adam Rose