By: Aayush Gupta (22C)

December 18, 2019

EIIG has a mission of working with entrepreneurs who have little to no prior business experience and frequently lack the skills necessary to start and grow a company of their own.

The organization provides microloans ranging between $5,000 and $10,000 at low interest rates to entrepreneurs who undergo a rigorous evaluation process conducted by both students and faculty advisors.

Perhaps more critical than the capital, however, are the services that EIIG provides to the entrepreneurs, providing consulting services during the three year loan repayment period. Simply possessing the resources is not enough – it is essential for entrepreneurs to be able to effectively use the capital and resources at hand for the benefit of the business.

When asked about dealing with the challenges and fears of starting a new business from scratch at a recent EIIG panel, Nicole Massiah, founder of Massiah Law & Associates, said that you should be “trusting your gut, and spending time with yourself and realizing whether this is the right thing for you to do.” One must have a deep passion for the business to be able to pursue the highly demanding and often frustrating avenues of success, or it may be difficult to find the motivation to continue.

When talking about his motivations for starting SHWAXX, Kevin Rodgers said that the most important part of his business, for his personal self, was “to serve” the community around him, and focus on the “impact” part of “impact investing.” He aims to reciprocate the support shown to him by society by providing them with products catered to their needs. Improving his products based customer feedback became one of the central pillars of his business model.

Akissi Stokes, founder of WUNDERgrubs, had some profound insight to share with her peer entrepreneurs. “Keep yourself true to what you said the company was going to be.” She further added, “Planning is very important; utilizing the pool of resources, be it capital, people, or having a business plan or marketing strategy, you need to have a plan to refer back to.”

These founders – Akissi, Kevin and Nicole – each faced barriers when starting their companies. But leveraging the ecosystem of Atlanta’s accelerators and the funding EIIG has provided them, they have each built businesses that are creating jobs and giving back to their communities.

Impact investing holds the potential to change thousands of lives. These entrepreneurs show the dedication and passion they have for their cause, and their potential for growth when provided the necessary resources and capital.

This is part two in a series on student-led impact investing. For part one, see Atlanta Entrepreneurs Discuss the Benefits of Impact Investing at Emory University.

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Run by Emory undergraduate students, Emory Impact Investing Group (EIIG) provides microloans and financial consulting services to Atlanta entrepreneurs to unlock the full economic potential of traditionally high poverty areas by increasing the number of successful small businesses. EIIG is currently fundraising $40,000 by December 31; if you’d like to contribute, please visit their website.

December 12, 2019 

By: Franzene Minott

In 2015, Emory solidified its position as a sustainability pioneer after their Strategic Vision outlined the ambitious goal that 75% of food served in the university—and 25% in the hospitals—would be locally or sustainably sourced by 2025. Reaching this target would require an ambitious and innovative plan. 

Meeting these expectations, metro Atlanta’s largest employer engineered a partnership that not only propels their mission forward but makes the support of next-generation agricultural entrepreneurs an integral part of the process. 

With fast rising land values, agricultural and nonagricultural businesses alike face concerns of creeping costs. These rising prices are driving Georgia’s ranking among the top 12 states with the highest conversion rate of farmland to development. Moreover, since families own 96% of existing American farms, the mounting unaffordability makes the opportunity of ownership feel nearly impossible for many farmers—especially those affected by institutional racism, gender discrimination, and other barriers historically targeting underserved communities. 

Through a partnership with The Conservation Fund, Emory will ensure that farmers will be able to afford their farmland many years into the future. Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI), which is led by Director Ciannat Howett, is working with the Conservation Fund to resolve one issue within the ecosystem: Creating a pathway to land ownership for new farmers while guaranteeing a market for their goods. 

The Conservation Fund leads the nation in the fight against today’s most pressing conservation issues. It has already protected nearly 150,000 acres of land in Georgia alone. When describing the motivation behind the collaboration with the Fund’s Working Farms Fund to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Howett states, “We were looking at our options because we weren’t seeing enough local and sustainable food available to get to that goal, at least not in a way that was affordable to us.”

From Georgia Farms to Emory Tables breaks down how the newly formed alliance intends to accomplish this feat. In simple terms, The Conservation Fund has committed to buying viable land within 100 miles of metro-Atlanta, protecting it from development through placed easements, and then leasing the land to farmers over the course of 5-10 years before ultimately selling them the land at the end of the agreement. 

Emory has also committed itself to be a faithful customer to the selected farmers, thus allowing them to focus on their business objectives without the added pressure of developing their own pipeline from scratch. This twofold project not only serves social entrepreneurs while bringing sustainability options to the community, but simultaneously brings Emory closer to achieving their 2025 sourcing goal. 

Expected to launch in 2020, Emory and The Conservation Fund plan on having 50 farmers participate in the program by 2040. In the same AJC article, Stacy Funderburke, co-director of the Working Farms Fund, explains that the criteria used to assess applicants will include “farming experience, markets, business plans, and match with individual farm sites.”

The mutually beneficial outcomes of this strategic partnership are what both Emory and the Conservation Fund hope will prove as an effective blueprint for others across the nation in their own sustainability efforts. In terms of the region, this unification demonstrates how enabling entrepreneurship through innovation can be achieved through the available resources within Georgia’s ecosystem. 

Interested in learning more about Emory University Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI), please visit:

Further Readings:

AP Story via U.S. News & World Report – Emory University Forms Partnership to Buy Local Produce


From the copy room to the operating room, from the classroom to the residence hall, the Emory Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) guides the efforts to meet the challenges of sustainability across all of Emory’s institutions. Emory OSI carries out this imperative by helping to restore the global ecosystem, fostering healthy living and reducing the University’s impact on the local environment.

Founded in 2006, Emory OSI has firmly established the University’s place as a sustainability leader in higher education.


December 5, 2019 

By: Sydney Maier, Carolyn Bero, Avi Scher 

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School recently sent several students across the U.S. to attend conferences on social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and socially responsible investing. Here is what they learned:

MBArk2Boulder Food Leadership Conference (Sydney Maier)

Dedicated to strengthening the relationship between MBAs and the natural foods industry, MBArk hosts three annual conferences: one specifically for students, and two in conjunction with Natural Products Expo (an industry event showcasing new and innovative natural and sustainable food and products).   

The first and smaller of these, Expo East boasts 1500+ companies showcasing new products and trends from mushroom jerky to compostable bandages to CBD-infused everything. Hundreds of suppliers, sales professionals, and grocers attend, so most booths are manned by founders, directors, and C-Suite, who are eager to answer any question asked. In addition to the expo itself, MBArk programming includes several opportunities to engage with industry leaders: a mini case competition with an emerging brand, scheduled floor walks with company heads (ex Beyond Meat, Oatly), and a CEO speed-dating session to name a few!   

While Atlanta is not yet a hub for this industry, it’s growing. Further, only a handful of schools partner with MBArk– Emory is one of the few schools with (heavily subsidized) access to Expo! Pro tip: bring an empty suitcase for all your samples! 

NI19: 2019 Net Impact Conference (Carolyn Bero) 

The Net Impact Conference focuses on exposing undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professionals in corporate social responsibility, nonprofits, academia and government, to a range of social entrepreneurship topics. The conference features areas such as community development, mobility, sustainability, impact investing, and corporate social responsibility and presents these through keynote speakers, panel discussions, and interactive workshops.  

The 2019 Net Impact conference hosted in Detroit was a great way to get a feel for what a career with socially responsible companies look like and to hear from leaders in a range of spaces. But the conference is much more focused on education than career connections. If you’re interested in attending to find your next social impact oriented job, it pays to do your homework ahead of time so that you can set up one-on-one conversations with attendees in your field of interest. Net Impact allows you to search the attendee database ahead of the conference. More information on Net Impact and the schedule from the 2019 conference can be found here! 

SRI30: 2019 SRI Conference (Avi Scher) 

This year, I represented the Goizueta Impact Investors (GII), a student-run impact investment fund at Emory University, at SRI30, the largest gathering of socially responsible investors in the U.S. Over the course of the three days, I attended lectures, panels, and coffee chats with asset managers, entrepreneurs, financial advisors, and students all committed to using private capital to address environmental, social, and economic challenges.   

What stood out was the array of methodologies used towards achieving a common goal. As an example, Gary White, who co-founded with Matt Damon, is raising a $150M fund through Water Equity Partners to provide financing for low-income residents to purchase water and sanitation devices.   

My key takeaway was stated by Brin Enterkin, Founder of The African Soup, which provides educational support to children in rural Uganda: “As holders of immense amounts of capital, our responsibility is immense.” It is on each and every one of us to continue exploring ways to meet this responsibility while achieving both profits and impact.   


Social Enterprise at Goizueta (SE@G), an actionoriented research center within Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, supports the next generation of social innovators through both coursework and hands-on experiences through student club activities including Goizueta Net ImpactGoizueta Impact Investors along with national social impact conferences. To learn more about Goizueta’s next generation of social innovators, please visit SE@G’s website.