2023 Competition

The 2023 Fowler Center Impact Investing Competition

The 2023 Impact Investing Competition was held in person Feb. 24 in the Peter B. Lewis Building on the Case Western Reserve University campus.Six student teams presented before a panel of seven judges, all representing a unique and diverse field of investing and social impact-oriented practitioners.

Student presenters included a variety of Weatherhead School of Management graduate and undergraduate students. Students presented a wide range of unique ideas and solutions to manage a portfolio of investments as impact investors.

The competition was organized by Fowler Center fellows: Kendyl Biondich, Tyler Holsopple, Lucy Lin, Kyle Regan, Erin Soldatis, Nikita Tayal, Prmeeti Verma, and Yicong Wang.

The seven judges included:  

  • Neelraj Arjune, mergers and acquisitions associate, McDonald Hopkins, LLC
  • Lynn Carpenter, co-founder of EPOCH Pi
  • Scott Hackenberg, social impact investor
  • Theo Legwaila, senior analyst, Avivar Capital
  • Uma M. Rajeshwar, portfolio manager, Glenmede
  • William Vogelgesang, co-founder of EPOCH Pi
  • Amy Willey, chair of ESG Practice Area, McDonald Hopkins, LLC

The Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Weatherhead would like to thank the students and judges who helped make our 2023 Impact Investing Competition a big success.

Competition Format

The teams were tasked with creating a $100 million impact fund that provided annual returns of 7% over the span of 10 years. The fund had to consist of companies that aligned with one or more of the UN’S sustainability goals with an ability to measure overall impact for the selected funds. This competition gave students a chance to explore the growing impact investment industry and the qualifications for which companies must adhere in accordance with the UN SDG goals.

Each team had a total of seven minutes to present their pitch followed by a 10-minute Q&A session with the judges.

The Fowler Center also held a reception post event to give students the opportunity to network and follow up with the panel of judges. This year, both co-deans of Weatherhead were also present and hosted lunch for the judges prior to the event.

Winning Teams

The first and second place winners of the competition were also announced after the presentations at the cocktail event. 

First place was presented to PI Capital (Positive Impact Capital) and consisted of master of finance students: Ester Muzychuk, Manish Tyagi, Meifang Zhu, Wisdom Djobokou and Chang Bao. The team won $2,000 and each member received a trophy representing their win.

Impact Investing Competition first place team smiles with trophy and judges

Second place was awarded to NBC Capital and consisted of full-time MBA students Nicholas Cwikla, Brandon Gathagan and Connor Reider, along with $1,000 and 2nd place trophies. 

Impact Investing Competition second place team smiles with trophy and judges

The Fowler Center was pleased to reveal their new case competition trophies at the award presentation this year as a new staple for the event. Fowler Fellow, Fiona Wang, created them at the university’s own Sears think[box].

All the participating student teams worked hard and served as great representatives of the Weatherhead student body. We hope students enjoyed themselves and learned from the experience. We are looking forward to seeing you again next year!

Competition Judges

Neelraj “Raj” Arjune

Neelraj “Raj” Arjune

Neelraj “Raj” Arjune is a mergers and acquisitions associate in the McDonald Hopkins’ Business Department. He provides counsel to privately held businesses in mergers and acquisitions. He also provides general corporate counseling to a variety of middle-market businesses, business owners and investors on matters relating to corporate governance, commercial contracts, and compliance. Raj earned his JD, cum laude, from Cleveland State University School of Law in 2021.

Lynn Carpenter

Lynn Carpenter

Co-founder of EPOCH Pi, Lynn Carpenter has previously served as director for both South Franklin Street Partners and Candlewood Partners LLC. She also worked as an associate on the buyout team for Morgenthaler where she assisted in the management of $1 billion in capital. Carpenter has experience using culture assessment tools and is certified in using Denison Consulting's Organizational Culture Survey and has substantial experience adding both cultural and strategic alignment to traditional investment banking.

Scott Hackenberg

Scott Hackenberg

Scott Hackenberg is the founder of JSH Impact Advisors, where he develops purpose-driven investment strategies for fund managers in the private capital markets. Hackenberg worked in private equity for Blackstone, was the co-founder of Swander Pace Capital and a director with Triplepoint Capital, a venture debt firm on Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley. Hackenberg pivoted to impact investing soon after that term came into existence and was brought in to help one of the early pioneers (RSF Social Finance) professionalize its $150 million social enterprise loan program. Hackenberg also worked with The Non Profit Finance Fund where he sourced and underwrote funding for community development projects in Oakland and California’s rural Central Valley. Hackenberg graduated with distinction from Cornell University and relocated back to Cleveland several years ago after 25-plus years in Silicon Valley.

Theo Legwaila

Theo Legwaila

Theo Legwaila is a senior analyst at Avivar Capital supporting the team with portfolio monitoring, reporting, and due diligence. Previously, Theo spent over 3 years in financial services working with companies in the renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable products industries. He worked at EPOCH Pi, an impact focused investment bank that helps business owners and entrepreneurs raise capital or sell their business while preserving the social and environmental impact of their companies beyond the transaction. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from European University Business School in Geneva, Switzerland.

Uma M. Rajeshwar

Uma M. Rajeshwar

 Uma M (Raj). Rajeshwar is a Wealth Manager in Glenmede’s Ohio office. In this role, he is responsible for providing integrated wealth advice, which includes investment, estate and financial planning advice for Glenmede clients, and is credentialed in all three disciplines. Raj does so by partnering with investment advisory, tax and wealth planning colleagues and external advisors to understand client goals, provide tailored guidance and ensure clients’ wealth management objectives are fulfilled. With over three decades of investment and trust experience, Mr. Rajeshwar has been practicing with Glenmede for almost two decades. Prior to joining Glenmede, he served Wealth Management clients as Senior Vice President, Society Asset Management, for Society Corp, Cleveland, Ohio, and as Vice President, Finance, Trust & Investment Management, AmeriTrust/Society Corp., Cleveland, Ohio.

Portrait of William Vogelgesang

William Vogelgesang

Co-founder of EPOCH Pi, William Vogelgesang was previously a co-founder and CEO of Candlewood Partners LLC and South Franklin Street Partners. Vogelgesang has also served on the board of numerous Cleveland-based companies. He has also served as chair of the Management Committee of Brown Gibbons Lang and a lender for Citicorp and KeyBank. Vogelgesang is also certified in using Barrett Values Center's cultural transformation tools, to help EPOCH Pi clients align their values in merger and acquisition transactions.

Amy Wiley

Amy Willey

Amy Willey, Member of the Mergers & Acquisitions Practice Group and Chair of the ESG Practice Area, McDonald Hopkins LLC. Amy Willey is a Member in the firm’s Business Department. Her practice is focused on representing sellers, strategic buyers and financial buyers in various types of transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, leveraged buyouts, distressed acquisitions and dispositions, and investments. She has a strong passion for helping entrepreneurs and businesses on corporate social governance matters to help impact-driven companies continue to grow the revenues while having a positive social impact by assisting with business initiatives.  Amy brings this passion to her M&A practice by helping both buyers and sellers to ensure cultural alignment and integration planning in their transactions, and works as general outside counsel for companies with the dual objectives of profit and purpose.