A decade of new questions, new possibilities and creative impact


10 years of impact – Oxford Impact Investing


Albert Einstein wrote, ‘To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination...’

For 10 years, we have been honoured to have 1,000 executive students from 80 countries attend executive education programmes in our impact portfolio. The Oxford Impact Investing Programme was launched in 2013 thanks to the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Debra Schwartz and the MacArthur Foundation generously provided scholarships in our earliest days to ensure that nonprofit organisations could attend our programme, and now scholarships are embedded in all our programmes. Oxford Impact Investing Programme was the first global impact investing executive education programme in the world and it continues to have the largest global executive education community in impact investing and provides world-class and cutting-edge content.

What has made our programme unique and successful over the past decade?

Blending finance and deal making with leadership to tackle wicked problems and achieve lasting systemic change. In the tradition of Saïd Business School leadership programmes, our Impact Investing and Social Finance programmes are centred on systems thinking and wicked problems. These frameworks require leaders to think and act differently when confronting complex challenges. Success requires building new cross-sector collaborations and multi-issue partnerships. Leaders must address cross-sector information that has been 'lost in translation' and build a common language that bridges the divide amongst business, government, nonprofit and philanthropy stakeholders. In the words of Einstein, leaders need creative imagination and a willingness to candidly acknowledge weakness and iterate. When we introduced this strategic framework in our first class, one colleague from one of the world’s largest investment banks warned that by doing so we might curtail the growth of the impact investing field. Well, so much for that warning—in 2010 the Global Impact Investing Network estimated $4 billion was invested in the nascent impact investing market. Today, the total market size is $1.164 trillion.

Just as the field has grown, so have the leadership skills of our students. They have moved from entrepreneur and start-up to scale and there is a need for savvy skills to managing large global teams. Uniting successful leadership and finance tools is essential for community dealing with ‘inside/outside’ organisational and partnership challenges.

To meet these evolving needs, Saïd Business School Dean Soumitra Dutta, has further leaned into the role of the school being a ‘world-class business school community tackling world-scale problems.’ These problems are embodied by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Analysis. They are the issues that keep global leaders - and our impact investing community - empowered to find ways to use capital to confront the threat of a 'polycrisis'. This new term coined by Adam Tooze in 2022 describes cascading, multiple threats: climate-related risks, natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, human migration and sociopolitical unrest.

Global faculty representing the pioneers and innovators

In addition to academic rigour, the Oxford Impact Investing Programme has made a commitment to bringing into the classroom as faculty seasoned practitioners who have launched and led impact investing globally. We invite them to class because of the willingness to discuss their failures as well as successes. This openness is a hallmark of a confident, learning community. Illustrations of a few core faculty include Jenn Pryce, CEO Calvert Impact; Daniel Izzo and Gilberto Ribiero, Vox Capital - founder of Brazil and Latin America Impact Investing; Karim Harji, the Oxford Impact Measurement Programme director; Peter Hinton, CEO Summit Development Group; Phyllis Costanza, CEO OutcomesX, and former CEO of UBS Optimus Foundation; Jamie Merisotis, CEO Lumina Foundation; Vineet Rai, CEO, Founder and Chairman of Asvishkaar Group; Jed Emerson, Chief Impact Officer for Alvarium Tiedemann AITi.

Finding passion and purpose

We are often asked what happens after participants complete the Oxford Impact Investing Programme. To answer this question, we ask alumni to return as faculty:

  • Sujata Lamba, Director of Partnerships, World Bank
  • Jeff Cyr, Co-Partner, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners
  • Damian Payiatakis, Head of Sustainable & Impact Investing at Barclays
  • Sombo Chunda Muzata, Assistant Professor, James Madison University
  • James Fairweather,  CEO of Big Issue Invest. We honour James for his remarkable life and mourn his tragic passing in 2022.

Continued questioning and creativity imagination

In the next decade, we will continue to ask new questions, raise new possibilities, and bring creative imagination to the challenges ahead. We celebrate our community and their passion for finding impact and purpose with capital.