Embarking on the Oxford Impact Investing Programme in February 2023 was a transformative journey, supported by Japan Social Innovation and Investment Foundation (SIIF), driven by my work at SIIF Impact Capital, Inc and a passion to delve deeper into impactful investment strategies.
A nostalgic return to learning at Oxford
My transition from startup executive to impact venture capitalist was deeply influence by Fumi Sugeno, a respected colleague at SIIF, a 2012 alumna of the programme and a leader in Japan’s social impact space. Her endorsement, coupled with a generous scholarship from the University, encouraged my enrollment. The rich content of the programme, the opportunity to learn from the distinguished faculty and the prospect of networking with a dynamic professional community, decisively sealed my decision to return to Oxford - a city I once knew well from my boarding school days.
Unlocking potential: paving the way for Japan’s impact venture funds
Entering the sphere of impact investing in Japan as a novice impact fund manager presented a daunting yet exhilarating journey. Japan’s impact investing market reached 5 trillion JPY in 2021, holds potential yet faces a unique challenge: youthfulness of our impact venture funds and a scarcity of veteran guides in the sector. The programme addressed these challenges, offering advanced case studies and insights from adept faculty and fellow participants from all over the world. Given that 70% of Japanese institutional investors see the market as set for future growth, this guidance was timely and crucial.
Knowledge into action: SIIFIC Wellness Fund
Immersed in the programme was profound depth of the impact investment sector, from theories of collective impact to practical decision-making strategies. Notably, the impact fund creation group work on top of tangible tools and frameworks allowed me to convert knowledge into action and directly facilitated the creation of the SIIFIC Wellness Fund in June 2023. This is our first impact fund which aims to engender wellness equity and spark systemic transformation in Japan's wellness sector.
Meaningful milestone: first impact investment
Our first impact investment from the fund in September 2023 was a testament to the insights gained from the programme. The principles, strategies and frameworks were no longer mere theories. We actively employed to evaluate, analyze and drive our investment strategies, ensuring that the companies we invest in not only promise returns but also forge measurable, positive impact.
The programme, the diversity, and the connection
Spanning a compact yet intense five days, the programme brought together individuals from 25 different countries and 16 business sectors. We all had different backgrounds but shared one goal: to generate social and environmental impact through investment.
In this diverse group I made a special connection with Kazuomi Kaneto (K2), a passionate entrepreneur and aspiring impact investor. Though we were both from Japan, our paths had not crossed until this convergence in Oxford. Our shared passion for impact investing and our shared roots have laid the foundation for what I believe will be a lifelong friendship.
The alumni network: a lasting impact
Post-programme, the extensive Oxford alumni network has proven to be a fount of ongoing support, collaboration and knowledge-sharing, enhancing our capabilities to forge lasting impact in our fields, whilst also maintaining a connection with a globally impactful collective.
From challenges to change
Navigating the challenges of the impact investment journey has been transformed by the programme into powerful learning experiences, building resilience and adaptability that is robust in the face of an ever-evolving impact investment landscape.
For professionals contemplating a shift towards meaningful, impactful investment, the path from theory to practice, learning to implementation, this programme is crucial. At Oxford, I found not just knowledge but a direction that channeled my expertise and intentions into real-world impact.
If a future creating collective impact and a better world resonates with you, I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore this enriching journey at Oxford.