Creating Opportunity Where It’s Needed Most

by Min Chen, MBA ‘13 and Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellow (10/15/12)

Min Chen, MBA ‘13 and Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellow

Working at IFC as a summer intern solidified my desire to maximize my impact in the world, by working to create opportunities where it’s needed most.

As one of Johnson’s Environmental Finance and Impact Investing (EFII) Fellows, I was fortunate to have dinner with Ajay Narayanan, the Head of Sustainability and Climate Change in International Finance Corporation (IFC) in March 2012. The dinner conversation revolved around IFC’s investment preferences to social entrepreneurship, and from there I gained a better idea on how IFC’s Global Financial Markets cooperated with financial institutes to fund projects for different types of investments. I was fascinated with these projects and not long after I had the chance to join Ajay’s team for the summer to gain more insights on these meaningful initiatives.

I found that IFC kept true to its motto – Creating Opportunity Where It’s Needed Most.  Through the three divisions in its investment practice: Infrastructure, MAS (Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Services), GFM (Global Financial Markets), IFC works in developing countries promoting sustainable growth by creating jobs, enabling health care facilities, generating clean energy, purifying water and so on. I got to pick four projects at different stages of the project life cycle in different areas to maximize my exposure within the organization.

The first project I worked on was with an NGO fund that targeted small to medium size agricultural businesses in Africa and Latin America.  These businesses were typically larger than microfinance clients but were not big enough to qualify for commercial loans.  This was a risky business for the fund as some clients might not even have proper training in accounting or know how to apply for loans.  Most of them received funding from family and friends.  The fund had to roll out two business lines – one for funding and the other for training so they could select who to lend to according to how the clients improved their operations.  IFC was deciding whether or not to invest in this fund.  My responsibilities included participating in due diligence calls with various parties (ranging from the fund’s auditor, lawyers, founders, and executives, to clients, investors, and donors), preparing the financial models and putting together the Investment Review Meeting book. 

I also had a chance to work on three other projects. These included working with a credit facility that targeted solar power companies intending to enter markets in developing countries; a renewable energy fund that looked to invest in small Hydroelectric Power Plants in East Europe, South Asia, and South America; and a joint venture with commercial banks to roll out green mortgage programs to promote green buildings in Mexico.

The time that I spent with my IFC colleagues was wonderful. I appreciated the diversity of talents and working with people with exceptional professional experience ranging from the top private equity shops to investment banking and consulting firms. Moving forward, I want to continue to maximize my impact in the world, by working to create opportunities where it’s needed most.