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Over the years, Gustavson students have found many creative ways to learn and work at the intersection of sustainability and business. The latest of these is a newly-created student investing club aimed at supporting social enterprises in the Greater Victoria area.

Four UVic students teamed up to create the Victoria Social Value Fund (VISVF), with support from Gustavson professor Basma Majerbi and others on campus and off. A student-led impact fund that invests in local social enterprises, students manage the investment funds with the goal of furthering local solutions to pressing environmental and social issues. “Impact investing is a type of sustainable investing that starts with the investor’s intention to contribute solutions to societal challenges while also seeing financial returns,” says Majerbi, whose Vancouver Island Impact Investing Hub collaboration started the conversation with National Social Value Fund (NSVF) to launch the Victoria chapter.

“Students getting hands-on experience managing this kind of fund are gaining much-needed skills in sustainable investing, which is critical to accelerate capital allocation for the benefit of society and the environment and help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

So who are these sustainability-minded student investors, and what drew them to the project? Gustavson caught up with each of them to hear about their experience so far.

Jamil Bhimji, fourth-year BCom student

Why did you join Victoria SVF?

“I came across this opportunity and thought that this kind of work was exactly what I was looking to try and possibly make a career out of! It seemed so perfect for my skills and interests.”

What’s been your favorite part of the experience so far?

“Connecting with my team members and seeing how passionate other students are about the same things I am! It is so refreshing to be able to work with peers who appreciate community and investing in social enterprises with strong core values.”

What are you looking forward to doing with the fund this year?

“I can’t wait to pitch investors and turn our work into tangible experience. It will be so rewarding to have credible investors give feedback to what we’ve created and to believe in the vision we are trying to promote!”

Why do you think impact investing is an important topic for students to engage with?

“I think impact investing is such a unique and revolutionary sector of business that allows students to connect with their community and create meaningful change where they live. Learning how to make investments work for every stakeholder is so powerful and the benefits that are realized are not only financially impactful, but socially and environmentally too!”

Lucas Darke, fourth-year BCom student

Why did you join Victoria SVF?

“As a business student with a focus on finance and accounting, I have always been curious how I can intertwine sustainable practices into my career. Being a part of the NSVF, and helping create the VISVF, has given me a great opportunity to develop my skills as well as help learn more about sustainability in business.”

What’s been your favorite part of the experience so far?

“I would have to say that developing the brand has been extremely fun and engaging. Everything from creating an investment thesis to choosing the colour palette for our logo.”

What are you looking forward to doing with the fund this year?

“I am really excited to begin meeting with investors and engaging with business ventures who embody our social and environmental values.”

Why do you think impact investing is an important topic for students to engage with?

“Over the past few years we have seen how much chaos there is in the world. We are the generation that needs to deal with urgent issues like social injustice, climate change, and overpopulation. We all play a role in helping shape the world for a better future, and if your passions and skills align with finance and investing, then it is important to always be thinking about what ‘impact’ your career will make. Being a part of an organization such as NSVF guarantees your skills will be used in a proactive and genuine way.”

Cassie McBride, fourth-year BCom student

Why did you join Victoria SVF?

“I co-founded VISVF because I really enjoy finance classes, but I am also very passionate about environmental stewardship. The intersection of sustainability and finance was a topic that was often discussed and learned about in business school, but I had never been introduced to any ways to actually practice in real life. In addition to this, I have always been looking for ways to contribute to breaking down gender barriers and promoting female empowerment, specifically through female engagement in sports. I attended an NSVF info session, and quickly came to the conclusion that this was the perfect opportunity to be able to finally explore these interests and how they can intersect with my future career!”

What’s been your favorite part of the experience so far?

“My favourite part about NSVF has been meeting and working with the other students on the team. It has been amazing to engage with other young people who feel strongly about impact investing and creating returns beyond just capital gains. I have also loved being able to build and create the fund from the ground up. It has given us the chance to be entrepreneurs and has been amazing to see how each one of us has contributed something unique to the Victoria Social Value Fund.”

What are you looking forward to doing with the fund this year?

“This year I am looking forward to making connections and getting to know the amazing organizations that are making positive impacts around the Greater Victoria area. I am also looking forward to adding more members to our incredible team and continuing to make strides toward our first investment!”

Why do you think impact investing is an important topic for students to engage with?

“I think that impact investing is important because in order to sustain our planet, our society and our economy we need to support enterprises that are operating responsibly, and not jeopardizing our future.”

Mayukh Routh, fourth-year Economics student

Why did you join Victoria SVF?

“I was interested to see how as a student I could make an impact through finance on issues like climate change and poverty prevention.”

What’s been your favorite part of the experience so far?

“My favourite part is the self-learning that I and the team have had to do. Learning how other impact funds work, alongside the rest of the team, has been an exciting experience.”

What are you looking forward to doing with the fund this year?

“As we move out of an infancy stage and start actively courting investors I am keen to see the kind of feedback and other opportunities we will encounter along the way.”

Why do you think impact investing is an important topic students to engage with?

“I feel that climate change and water conservation, for example, are issues that still require a high degree of action, despite being widely acknowledged.”