Yes, you can create a positive impact while generating financial returns


More than ever, business and society are turning to business leaders to navigate uncertainty and solve problems. And, these leaders react and co-create a vision for the future.

Business leaders use creativity and ingenuity to tackle pressing challenges and achieve impact in multiple ways. The power of values-based entrepreneurial leadership was fully highlighted during Global Entrepreneurial Leadership Week, as the Babson community explored how to advance and amplify approaches through a series of events and conversations.

Two discussions focused on impact, illustrating how business leaders encourage collaboration, get creative and empower others.

Listen and respond

Entrepreneurial leadership begins with collaboration and the inclusion of diverse ideas.

In an Impact Unplugged conversation moderated by the Lewis Institute, Camille Manning-Broome, President and CEO of the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX), shared examples of how listening and responding have helped communities adapt to climate change while tackling socio-economic inequalities.

CPEX is a nonprofit organization that works with individual communities in Louisiana to develop and execute plans for transportation and infrastructure, environmental issues, and quality design. Its process and success are based on collaboration. Addressing these difficult challenges requires the engagement of multiple stakeholders, including community residents, local and state governments, nonprofits, and global partnerships.

Manning-Broome believes that it is essential for the community not only to have a real voice in determining its future, but also to have ownership of it. “People support what they help create,” she said.

By bringing people together and planning, and truly listening and responding to their needs, CPEX has helped communities foster sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

Continuously innovate

Business leaders are continually creating new approaches to make impact at scale.

Three Babson alumni helped uncover the potential of impact investing at another Global Entrepreneurial Leadership Week event, hosted by the Stephen D. Cutler Center for Investments and Finance. The engaging discussion was moderated by Scott Perry MBA’06, Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and Partner, Endowments and Foundations at NEPC, LLC, while Priya Parrish ’05, Managing Partner at Impact Engine, and Brian Dixon MBA ‘ 13, partner at Kapor Capital, shared their experiences as investors.

Through impact investing, business leaders are making significant progress in closing the access and opportunity gaps that exist in today’s society. Referring to inequalities in education, health and financial literacy, Dixon shared examples of recent investments in LendUp, a socially responsible lender that strives to eliminate predatory payday loans, and Magoosh, which provides access to affordable standardized test preparation.

Impact investors have started from environmental, social and governance considerations and have taken a giant leap forward. “This is actually their investment rationale,” Parrish said. “It’s at the heart of their thesis and why they invest, and they have a plan and a vision. “

Bottom Line: It is possible to achieve a double bottom line, creating a positive impact and generating financial returns simultaneously.

Watch ETLV, the new on-demand video channel featuring business leaders from all parts of the Babson community:

Leaders empower leaders

Business leaders inspire, empower and mobilize others to take action.

Manning-Broome sees the role of CPEX primarily as a facilitator. Through this deliberate and thoughtful approach, the CPEX team helps develop entrepreneurial leaders in the communities themselves. These leaders will continue to be champions in implementing a strategic and shared vision of a resilient community that can meet the needs of all.

Ultimately, this approach brings about real and lasting change. “We don’t want to just go in and produce a document,” Manning-Broome said. “We want to create a movement.

“I will say that we still have work to do, and I’m really excited about what the next decade will look like for impact investors.”
Brian Dixon MBA’13, partner at Kapor Capital

Likewise, Parrish and Dixon both emphasized the importance of supporting entrepreneurs who start businesses to address real market failures. This awareness not only strengthens mission-conscious investors, but also those entrepreneurs, who previously may not have been able to find funding. In addition, impact investors often engage with these entrepreneurs at an earlier stage, helping to further activate their potential.

“I am proud of the work of the past 10 years,” Dixon said. “But, I will say that we still have work to do, and I’m really excited about what the next decade will look like for impact investors.”

The problems that business leaders face are many, and many of them are urgent. But, through the prism of values-based leadership and innovative approaches, business leaders can make a significant impact.

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