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Our Mission
Convene entrepreneurs, executives, investors, philanthropists, researchers, and other change agents to accelerate the speed, scale, and effectiveness of social innovations across the spectrum of capital.
Our Vision
The number one center of excellence and trusted learning partner for leading social innovators and change makers.
Our Focus
Impact management: how asset owners (investors, banks, entrepreneurs, corporates, or family offices) articulate their impact objectives, what problems they want to solve, who they want to reach, where they want to invest, and what risks they want to take.
Unlocking Social Innovation

Social innovation creates new solutions (products, services, markets, models, processes) for a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous society by addressing social and environmental needs more efficiently and effectively than current policies and businesses.

The IMD elea Center for Social Innovation was launched at IMD Business School in 2018. We develop and share research, pedagogical content, and educational programs that help leaders in business, government, and civil society navigate the challenges of initiating and implementing social innovation.

Through these core activities, we convene entrepreneurs, executives, investors, philanthropists, researchers, and other change agents to accelerate the speed, scale, and effectiveness of social innovations across the spectrum of capital that address the key social and environmental challenges of our time.

REFLECT

on the purpose of business and act as catalyst.

DESIGN

pedagogy to inspire mindset change.

DEVELOP

leadership capabilities to create social innovation.

FORGE

connections between corporations, academics, investors, and change makers.

Achieving social impact and innovation calls for inclusive leadership. Our partnership leverages IMD’s deep leadership development expertise and the elea FoundationÔÇśs philanthropic impact investment focus as well as its community of social entrepreneurs.

Peter Wuffli Chair of the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization and former Chair of the IMD Foundation

IMD is delighted and privileged to host the IMD elea Center for Social Innovation. This center is created at a time that feels very much like a crossroads, where we need to think about new forms of capitalism with well-understood and articulated positive social impact.

Jean-Fran├žois Manzoni IMD President
1/2
Thematic Pillars
CREATING

social and environmental value. Focus on risk taking and the capital structure of social enterprises.

FINANCING

social and environmental value. We focus on the tools that impact investors use to make investment decisions.

ACCELERATING

social and environmental value. We focus on subsidy design and the ability to crowd in commercial-rate investors.

MAINSTREAMING

social and environmental value. Investigate how ESG issues drive social innovations within corporate settings.

Insights & Research

Through our research and educational work with social innovators from across the world, we have gained some extraordinary insights into the dynamics that can drive systems change and accelerate the pace of social innovation. With the ongoing support of the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization, we have published a large number of articles, cases, reports, books, chapters, and academic articles in top international academic journals.

Vanina Farber offered EMBA participants a virtual trek into impact investing
Article
Challenging mindsets to inspire impact
Topics: Sustainability, Social Innovation, Investment

By Vanina Farber

In this interview, Vanina Farber reflects on why there is a growing need to provide executives with the right tools to take a more integrated approach to impact and business ÔÇô and to change mindsets when it comes to financial decision making.

11 May 2021
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Pic
Article
Landmark financial sustainability regulation is finally here. Now what?
Topics: Sustainability, Financial Regulation, Politics

By Vanina Farber and Patrick Reichert

As new EU regulations around sustainable finance come into effect, organizations should embed sustainability into their decision making to finance the transition to more just, inclusive, and sustainable business models.

10 March 2021
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Article
Silver lining? COVID-19 and the entrepreneurial gender gap
Topics: Entrepreneurship

By Vanina Farber and Patrick Reichert

As we pass the one year mark of the pandemic, it is clear that its effects have hit women harder than men across much of the world. How can we adapt the ecosystem to suit them more?

08 March 2021
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The elea Way
Book
The elea Way
Topics: Sustainability

By Vanina Farber and Peter A Wuffli

Social entrepreneurship and impact investing contribute to a more inclusive capitalism and bring innovative solutions to global challenges, such as fighting poverty and protecting Planet Earth.

18 November 2020
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Jar of lightbulb representing ideas
Book
Channel the diversity of ideas to navigate uncertainty
Topics: Sustainability, Diversity, and Equity and Inclusion

By Vanina Farber

Changing leadership mindsets to build innovative partnerships and adopt unusual ideas from diverse sources in science, the humanities, and social innovation would help companies find effective solutions and capture opportunities for future growth.

 

23 September 2020
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Article
Diversity matters: the power of female leadership in impact investment
Topics: Leadership, Investment

By Vanina Farber

Women are under-represented in the impact investment sector, and women sometimes shy away from finance. However, we cannot blame everything on women themselves for this under-representation ÔÇô there are also structural barriers.

18 August 2020
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Article
Joining forces for the world we want
Topics: Sustainability, Social Innovation

 

By Vanina Farber and Natalia Olynec

The United Nations┬áSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent the world we want to live in. ItÔÇÖs a world without poverty or hunger where health, wellbeing, and quality education are no longer the privilege of a few.

19 September 2019
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Article
Philanthropic impact investing: Four keys to success
Topics: Social Innovation, Investment

By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert, and Peter Wuffli

Impact investment is a rapidly growing phenomenon that has sparked enthusiasm across a wide range of actors, including investors, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and citizens ÔÇô and an important element towards building a more inclusive capitalism.

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Popular Media
Taking aim: how shareholder activism is making the workplace more diverse and inclusive
IbyIMD Magazine; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (February 9, 2022 ÔÇó 5 min read)
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Three trends to track as impact investing eyes the mainstream
IbyIMD Magazine; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (January 6, 2022 ÔÇó 6 min read)
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Quand l’activisme des actionnaires rend la culture d’entreprise plus inclusive
HR Today; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (December 12, 2021 ÔÇó 6 min read)
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How investors can balance risk, return, and impact to spark positive change
IbyIMD Magazine; By Vanina Farber (December 10, 2021 ÔÇó 6 min read)
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Three lessons in impact investment to absorb from Peruvian moss
IbyIMD Magazine; By Vanina Farber (December 3, 2021 ÔÇó 5 min read)
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COP26 represents call to action for business leaders
IbyIMD Magazine; By Julia Binder, Salvatore Cantale, Vanina Farber, Knut Haanaes, Natalia Olynec, Karl Schmedders (November 15, 2021 ÔÇó 8 min read)
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Three factors to watch as impact finance gains traction
IbyIMD Magazine; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (October 29, 2021 ÔÇó 5 min read)
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An aspiration for COP26: accelerating the transition to net zero
IbyIMD Magazine; By Robert G. Eccles, Vanina Farber, Shiva Rajgopal, Patrick Reichert (October 27, 2021 ÔÇó 6 min read)
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How smart subsidies help social entrepreneurs scale impact
IbyIMD Magazine; By Patrick Reichert (October 18, 2021 ÔÇó 6 min read)
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Accelerating transitions to sustainable business models after COVID
IbyIMD Magazine; By Vanina Farber (June 18, 2021 ÔÇó 2 min read)
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Accelerating the sustainability transition
IbyIMD Magazine; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (June 1, 2021 ÔÇó 3 min read)
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Nachhaltigkeit: schneller, h├Âher, st├Ąrker!
Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (May 28, 2021 ÔÇó 3 min read)
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Three steps to scale social entrepreneurship
ibyIMD Brain Circuit; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (March 26, 2021 ÔÇó 2 min read)
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Tesla:ÔÇ»Exclude, engage or just invest?
IbyIMD Brain Circuit; By Vanina Farber (March 24, 2021 ÔÇó 2 min read)
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Greta Thunberg at Davos: why Gen Z has real power to influence business on climate change
The Conversation; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (January 24, 2019 ÔÇó 4 min read)
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While politicians get protectionist, more businesses are pushing moral agendas
The Conversation; By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert (November 2, 2018 ÔÇó 3 min read)
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Online privacy must improve after the Facebook data uproar
The Conversation; By Vanina Farber (April 5, 2018 ÔÇó 3 min read)
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Case studies
case study
Nia Impact Capital: Active Ownership for Social Justice
Topics: Finance, Sustainability, Investment

By Vanina Farber and Mar├şa Helena Ja├ęn

Founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital (Nia) (Oakland, California) Kristin Hull brings the logic of impact investing to public markets, exercising active ownership, and engaging with portfolio companies including Tesla, IBM, and Apple.

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Award-winning case study
Angaza: A Silicon Valley journey (Abridged)
Topics: Sustainability

By Vanina Farber and Shih-Han Huang

AngazaÔÇÖs story is not a typical solar light story, but the story of a female social entrepreneur with a for-profit Silicon Valley mindset transforming a social enterprise from a hardware to a software business model.┬á

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Case study
Maison Chlo├ę: Driving purposeful transformation for sustainability
Topics: Sustainability, Strategy, Luxury

By Vanina Farber, St├ęphane JG Girod and Lisa Simone Duke

How Chlo├ę CEO Riccardo Bellini, along with Sustainability Director Aude Vergne, accelerated the MaisonÔÇÖs purpose-led sustainability transformation in an industry that materially contributed to the planetÔÇÖs environmental and social problems.

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Case study
Chanel 1.5┬░: A Sustainability Journey
Topics: Sustainability, Strategy, Luxury

By Vanina Farber, St├ęphane JG Girod and Martin Kr├ílik

In a short span of five or six years, CHANEL embraced CSR (corporate social responsibility) and ESG (environmental, social, governance) initiatives that stretched far beyond its established comfort zone of artistic direction and creative output.

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Case study
Triodos Investment Management ÔÇô Yamaha: Making Music Sustainable
Topics: Sustainability, Leadership

By Vanina Farber and Mar├şa Helena Ja├ęn

In 2020, Triodos Investment Management (Triodos) was a globally active impact investor. It believed the true purpose of investing was to generate social and environmental impact alongside a healthy financial return.

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Case study
Finance for a Sustainable Society at Triodos Investment Management: An ESG Portfolio Investment Decision
Topics: Sustainability, Investment, Diversity and Equity and Inclusion

By Vanina Farber and Mar├şa Helena Ja├ęn

This case provides the opportunity to perform a real but simplified ESG research analysis and portfolio investment decision of Yamaha Corporation, Tesla and Philip Morris International (PMI) from the perspective of an impact investor.

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Case study
PMI’s Vision of a Smoke-Free Future: Can a Tobacco Company be Sustainable
Topics: Strategy, Social Innovation, Sustainability

By Vanina Farber and Head of Sustainability Natalia Olynec

Philip Morris International (PMI) CEO Andr├ę Calantzopoulos announced in 2016 a radical pivot in the Marlboro cigarette manufacturerÔÇÖs strategy: the company would shift to ÔÇťsmoke-freeÔÇŁ products in more than 180 countries around the world.

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Case study
Financing change, changing finance: Should Triodos invest in Tesla?
Topics: Finance, Sustainability, Diversity, and Equity and Inclusion

By Vanina Farber , Mar├şa Helena Ja├ęn and Universidad de los Andes Professor Mar├şa Helena Ja├ęn

Triodos Investment Management took a comprehensive view of the companies following the ÔÇť4PÔÇŁ approach: Product, People, Process, and Planet. Senior Investment Analyst Henk Jonker needed to evaluate TeslaÔÇÖs inclusion in the investment universe.

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Latest Academic Articles
Blood in the water: An abductive approach to startup valuation on ABCÔÇÖs Shark Tank
by Maude Lavanchy, Patrick Reichert, Amit Joshi; Journal of Business Venturing Insights, epub before print (February 2022)
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Market infrastructure for social ventures
By Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert; In “A Research Agenda for Social Finance” (Editor: Othmar M. Lehner, May 2021)
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Crowding-in or crowding-out? How subsidies signal the path to financial independence of social enterprises
by Patrick Reichert, Marek Hudon, Ariane Szafarz, Robert K Christensen; Perspectives on Public Management and Governance (July 2021, Volume 4, Issue 3)
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Purpose Driven Social Innovation at Jebsen & Jessen Family Enterprise: Value chain vertical integration to achieve environmental sustainability
Vanina Farber, Marta Widz; In “Pioneering Family FirmsÔÇÖ Sustainable Development Strategies” (Editors: P. Sharma, S. Sharma, March 2021)
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Gender and entrepreneurial propensity: Risk-taking and prosocial preferences in labour market entry decisions
by Patrick Reichert, Matthew Bird, Vanina Farber; Social Enterprise Journal (February 2021, Volume 17, Issue 1)
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What is a fair level of profit for social enterprise? Insights from microfinance
by Marek Hudon, Marc Labie, Patrick Reichert; Journal of Business Ethics (March 2020, Volume 162, Issue 3)
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A meta-analysis examining the nature of trade-offs in microfinance
by Patrick Reichert; Oxford Development Studies (January 2018, Volume 46, Issue 3)
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In Alain Gibb’s footsteps: Evaluating alternative approaches to sustainable enterprise education (SEE)
by Vanina Farber, Rita Klapper; International Journal of Management Education (Novermber 2016, Volume 14, Issue 3)
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An entrepreneurial learning exercise as a pedagogical tool for teaching CSR
by Vanina Farber, Maria Angela Priale, Rosa Maria Fuchs; Industry and Higher Education (October 2015, Volume 29, Issue 5)
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Social enterprises in Lima: Notions and operating models
by V. Farber, S Caballero, MA Priale, RM Fuchs; Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies (January 2015, Volume 1, Issue 1)
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Barriers and public policies affecting the international expansion of Latin American SMEs: Evidence from Brazil, Colombia, and Peru
by V. Farber, G Cardoza, G Fornes, R Gonzalez Duarte, J Ruiz Gutierrez; Journal of Business Research (June 2016, Volume 69, Issue 6)
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Increasing energy access: The rise of pay-as-you-go solar and innovative financing partnerships
by Patrick Reichert, Umberto Trivella; Enterprise Development & Microfinance (October 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3)
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Media & Events

Led by Vanina Farber, IMD elea Professor of Social Innovation and Dean of IMDÔÇÖs Executive MBA program, we host a webinar series that explores how philanthropists, investors, entrepreneurs, corporations, and foundations are using the spectrum of capital to address the key social and environmental challenges of our time.

Discover Our Webinars
Accelerating transitions to sustainable business models after COVID-19
By Vanina Farber, 21 June 2021
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The elea Way: a learning journey toward sustainable impact
By Vanina Farber, 17 September 2020
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The S in ESG
By Vanina Farber, 11 November 2020
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An impact investorÔÇÖs journey to provide solutions for basic needs in developing countries
By Vanina Farber, 28 October 2020
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How to maximize performance and impact in the governance of impact organizations
By Vanina Farber, 14 October 2020
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Collaborative financing for renewable energy in emerging markets
By Vanina Farber, 30 September 2020
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The economics of mutuality
By Vanina Farber, 16 September 2020
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How institutional investors can leverage blended finance
By Vanina Farber, 3 September 2001
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How microinsurance helps smallholder coffee farmers survive climate change
By Vanina Farber, 19 August 2020
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Venture philanthropy and the rise of Tech for Impact initiatives
By Vanina Farber, 5 August 2020
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Collaborative financing solutions for sustainable infrastructure and returns
By Vanina Farber, 29 July 2020
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Making a difference: driving financial returns while addressing the worldÔÇÖs most pressing societal challenges
By Vanina Farber, 10 July 2020
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The role of building entrepreneurial ecosystems in Africa to canalize impact investment
By Vanina Farber, 17 June 2020
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Topping up investment in the humanitarian space using innovative finance
By Vanina Farber, 10 June 2020
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Catalyzing wealth for change
By Vanina Farber, 3 June 2020
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Deploying private capital in pursuit of environmental goals
By Vanina Farber, 27 May 2020
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Courage and capital to achieve a sustainable future
By Vanina Farber, 20 May 2020
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ESG Integration and Values-Based Investment
By Vanina Farber, 13 May 2020
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Collaborative Blended Finance Solutions: BNP Paribas in Indonesia
By Vanina Farber, 6 May 2020
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Asian Markets: The role of Venture Capital and Private Equity
By Vanina Farber, 29 April 2020
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Blended Finance to achieve SDG 4: Cocoa Industry Case
By Vanina Farber, 22 April 2020
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Financing the SDGs: The urgency of now
By Vanina Farber, 15 April 2020
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Fighting absolute poverty with philanthropic impact investment
By Vanina Farber and Peter A Wuffli, 8 April 2020
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About the IMD elea Center for Social Innovation
  • Our Team
  • Advisory
  • Chairs
  • Senior elea Fellows
  • Faculty
  • With sincere thanks to the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization

    We are very fortunate to benefit from the support of the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization to study and support social innovators across the world.

    Social innovation is a highly complex topic that relies on an interdisciplinary approach. Our team of faculty experts is committed to focusing on the characteristics and challenges unique to social innovation.