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.”