The Intern Perspective
August 28, 2018
Editor's Note: This summer we hosted interns Shannon Nanry and Aman Tiku, both working on the Strategy, Communications and Impact team. As their internships end, they discuss their impressions of Calvert Impact Capital and the broader impact investing industry through the lens of their main projects.
Aman: I'm a rising third-year at the University of Chicago, studying history and political science. I'm working on the Strategy, Communications and Impact Team, which aligns Calvert's strategy and communications, manages our impact measurement program, and promotes our thought leadership.
Shannon: I'm a rising fourth-year at Johns Hopkins University, studying applied math and statistics in a combined BS/MBA program. I'm contributing towards Calvert's impact measurement and management by collecting quantitative impact data from Calvert's borrowers; "number of affordable houses created" or "tons of waste reduced" are examples of impact metrics I've been compiling. I'm synthesizing this data for the 2018 Impact Report, which highlights the outputs and outcomes that Calvert's loans generate. Impact data is important for evaluating a loan's impact beyond financial performance, which differentiates impact investing from traditional investing. I also transitioned historical impact data into a new database to assess the social and environmental performance of Calvert's portfolio over time.
Aman: So, while you have been collecting quantitative borrower data, I've been reaching out to borrowers and corresponding with marketing contacts to gather their qualitative impact data—client stories and photos that bring the borrowers' work to life. The content I'm sourcing will populate a new portfolio list on Calvert's website, along with Calvert's impact report. These new resources will then report out to investors and financial advisors who want to see the tangible impact Calvert's loans create.
Shannon: Are there any interesting organizations that you've come across while building this portfolio list?
Aman: One borrower I've communicated with is Greenline Ventures. Greenline is a financial services company that specializes in capital market solutions for economic development and positive community impact. Calvert closed an $8 million loan to Greenline in late 2016 for their Small Business Capital Fund (SBCF), which lends to small businesses in low-income US communities. I researched Greenline to develop a summary profile and then reached out to Greenline's team to source new client success stories and related photos. Shannon, you've also been working with Greenline, right?
Shannon: Yes, Greenline reported impact data to Calvert earlier this summer. Their SBCF disbursed $20 million in loans to small businesses, 99% of which are in low-income areas. The loans range in size from $250,000 to $2,000,000, depending on the client's needs. These businesses can then create and retain jobs at living-wages with benefits, providing security to families and strengthening the communities they live in. The fund focuses on gaps in accessible finance too; all these small businesses are owned by women or entrepreneurs of color.
Aman: The stories and data you and I are collecting showcase the positive end-results that Calvert's investments have on affected communities and individuals. One story, for example, details how Greenline's SBCF loan helped Spot Bicycle – a family-owned bicycle manufacturer and retailer in Colorado – launch a new product line and remain on its projected growth path. Even though your work is mostly quantitative and mine is qualitative, we're working towards the same overarching goal: measuring and conveying Calvert's impact. Reflecting on all our impact work this summer, do you have any big takeaways about impact investing overall?
Spot Bicycle is using its Greenline loan to support of the launch of its newest bike model, hire an additional engineer and support R&D
Shannon: One key thing I've learned is that impact is intersectional across environmental and social goals and can be evident at several stages along the financial value chain. Impact touches Calvert's borrowers themselves in addition to the communities on the ground. It's certainly encouraging that one loan from Calvert can have such multifaceted influence. The diversity of outcomes demonstrates how a loan in the environmental sustainability sector, for example, can also contribute to public health. What has your experience at Calvert taught you, Aman?
Aman: I was unfamiliar with impact investing before interning at Calvert Impact Capital. Since starting, I've gained a stronger grasp of the impact Calvert has on end-borrowers and developed an interest in the broader scope of impact-based work. My content sourcing efforts will help to clearly demonstrate and communicate impact investing's potential, which has made it a fulfilling experience. My internship will also aid me as I navigate my professional future, looking to create positive, tangible impact like at Calvert.
Shannon: Exploring Calvert's portfolio and impact data has been a great introduction into the impact investing world and to the other prevalent organizations in the industry. I hope to return to this type of professional work after graduation. It'll be exciting to see the finished products of our internships this summer when Calvert's portfolio list is published in August and the impact report is released in October.