Alumni Sean Smith at Invested Development

by Becky Darling

            Impact invest­ing has recently become one of the most uti­lized meth­ods to effect social change in the devel­op­ing world. Many orga­ni­za­tions world­wide invest in socially minded busi­nesses, with the inten­tion of gen­er­at­ing social and finan­cial returns. One such orga­ni­za­tion is Invested Devel­op­ment, an impact invest­ment man­age­ment firm that focuses on the devel­op­ment of tech star­tups that serve the world’s under­served mar­kets. Invested Devel­op­ment focuses the major­ity of their resources on mobile tech­nol­ogy and alter­na­tive energy. They have cho­sen these two main fields because they have the great­est poten­tial to scale and impact bil­lions of peo­ple worldwide.

            Sean Smith works at Invested Devel­op­ment and grad­u­ated from North­east­ern with a Bachelor’s degree in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion with con­cen­tra­tions in Entre­pre­neur­ship and New Ven­ture Man­age­ment. In 2011, Mr. Smith moved to Nairobi in order to open Invested Development’s first inter­na­tional office. As an Invest­ment Ana­lyst and New Invest­ment Man­ager, Sean works to bring in new invest­ments and every­thing nec­es­sary to make a poten­tial invest­ment suc­cess­ful. This includes work­ing closely with investors, incu­ba­tors, and uni­ver­si­ties in order to iden­tify promis­ing com­pa­nies and engag­ing with entre­pre­neurs to help them reach their full poten­tial. Some of Sean’s most inter­est­ing projects include Simpa Net­works and SolarNow, two com­pa­nies that have high cal­iber teams and cre­ate envi­ron­ments that are both “chal­leng­ing and intel­lec­tu­ally engaging.”

            The field of impact invest­ing is, in Mr. Smith’s opin­ion, the future of devel­op­ment and poverty alle­vi­a­tion. Impact invest­ing uti­lizes the prin­ci­ples of ven­ture cap­i­tal­ism to cre­ate a more “rig­or­ous for-profit men­tal­ity to social ven­tures.” In this way, social busi­nesses are able to scale more effec­tively and impact a large num­ber of peo­ple. Invested Devel­op­ment focuses their invest­ing power on tech star­tups because they are able to bring crit­i­cal ser­vices, such as energy, news, infor­ma­tion, and finan­cial capa­bil­ity to com­mu­ni­ties that were pre­vi­ously unable to access them. These types of invest­ments are par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful because they not only strengthen socially minded busi­nesses, but they also empower indi­vid­u­als to help them­selves through increased access to life-changing technologies.

             As a North­east­ern under­grad, Mr. Smith made many con­tacts with orga­ni­za­tions in Boston, includ­ing Mass­Chal­lenge. He also took advan­tage of net­works made through co-ops at Bain & Com­pany and Boston Con­sult­ing Group. As a young pro­fes­sional in the field of social entre­pre­neur­ship, Mr. Smith empha­sizes the impor­tance of net­work­ing and uti­liz­ing all pos­si­ble resources. But most of all, Mr. Smith expressed the need to, “Be entre­pre­neur­ial. Just get out and go do it. Many of the social enter­prises you read about it class or in the media are badly in need of hun­gry, knowl­edge­able, and tal­ented peo­ple. It is not the most well beaten career path so there will be bumps along the way, but if you want it badly enough then you’ll break through.”