Summer Centered: Buying Into Impact Investing
Rising sophomores Hassaan Rao and Annais Gangolf are analyzing the social and environmental impact of different companies and organizations this summer as a part of Haverford’s Microfinance and Impact Investing Initiative.
More and more businesses are finding ways to push for social and environmental change, and it’s Hassaan Rao’s job to evaluate how well they do. This summer, the prospective economics major is exploring the ins and outs of impact investing as part of Haverford’s Microfinance and Impact Investing Initiative (MI3).
The rising sophomore is working virtually with Assistant Professor of Economics and director of MI3 Shannon Mudd. In collaboration with the Philadelphia Impact Investing Ecosystem, an important part of his work is figuring out how to effectively quantify the social and environmental impact of different companies. With classmate Annais Gangolf ‘24, Rao also works with ImpactableX to quantify impact.
“For example, in very easy words, a company employs people out of prison; the company’s impact would be the cost saved in the criminal justice system for each employed person not recidivating, and the taxes paid by the employee,” Rao explained. “Our job would be to find costs saved in the criminal justice system and the average amount of taxes paid by the formerly incarcerated employee.”
Rao and Gangolf are also helping companies pitch to potential investors. “Annais and I worked with Professor Nimisha Ladva, the public speaking expert at Haverford, to learn how to analyze a company’s pitch and how to give them suggestions,” said Rao. “The last stage of this program would be to find capital sources for these companies, i.e., potential investors that are interested in the impact of these companies.”
Rao also works as a research assistant for Mudd, helping with his ongoing work on the impact of political pressure on central banks. “This research is an extension of an existing paper, ‘Capital flow waves: Surges, stop, flight, and retrenchment,’ by Kristin J. Forbes and Francis E. Warnock,” he explained. “A major part of this research for us has been recreating the data used in the original paper. This means we have to find GDP and export data for 58 specific countries from the IMF online database, and the countries’ national databases, and then format the data on Excel.” The work has been engaging but challenging, as a lot of countries do not report consistent quarterly data, forcing Rao to make assumptions and estimates in the data.
Overall, working with MI3 has been a rewarding experience. Rao is hopeful that more businesses will look to impact investing to help them make positive change.
"I have really enjoyed working with the Social Venture Circle Philadelphia; it has shown me how some startup companies and investors are driven to produce social and environmental gains,” he said. “I think impact investing has a lot of scope for growth, and it could be a step towards changing capitalism for social good."
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ campus-supported summer work.