March 13, 2007

Competition Goes ‘Green’

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Two Cornell organizations, the Mutual Investment Club of Cornell and the Sustainability Enterprises Association, are joining to launch the Sustainable Investment Challenge, a creative investment competition. SIC, an interdisciplinary competition, brings the concept of environmental-consciousness in business and industry to college campuses in the form of a hands-on contest.

The SIC investment competition is interdisciplinary. With the slogan “Money Should Be Green,” SIC introduces business students to sustainability through awareness of both social and environmental issues and introduces environmentally conscious students to the concepts of investment and business.

MICC president Ariel Tan ’07 discussed his cooperation with SEA president Richard Weidel ’09 in introducing the SIC to Cornell students.

“We came together as two members of Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity wanting to make a difference in the undergraduate business community through our roles as business leaders on campus,” Tan said. “Instead of investing in just any security, we challenge participants to critically think about investor responsibility by analyzing a company not only through its fundamental business operations, but through a holistic approach of its economic, social and environmental impacts to society.”

SIC consists of two separate competitions: one is a competition for groups, and the other a competition for individuals. The pilot program was launched on March 1, and will end on May 11. The pilot program will lead up to the first annual year-long Sustainable Investment Challenge, which will begin next fall.

Participation in the pilot program is the first step toward establishing annual involvement in the SIC and provides an opportunity to get an early start on learning about the processes and intricacies of sustainable investment.

“We anticipate this competition to be of international scale and focused on college students,” Tan said.

“Great idea,” said Andre Wegner, a graduate of the University of Saint Andrews in England. “Thought I might motivate the Europeans to join… I’m sure they’ll give you a run for your money.”

SIC’s fundamental goal is to have different universities compete against each another with a sustainable investment portfolio to determine who earns the highest profits; this would promote the idea that an individual can still earn ample returns given socially responsible investments.

“My main goal in participating is to develop my ability to successfully invest in the market while learning more about corporate social responsibility and investing in companies that give back to society, as opposed to just trying to make money,” said Sharat Shekar ’09, MICC’s associate analyst and an SIC contestant.

The competition addresses the growing concern for the resources that will be available to future generations by stressing the importance of sustainability. A sustainable corporation, explains the SIC’s charter, profits by satisfying the demands of this generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

A socially responsible corporation, the charter continues, operates in a way that positively affects the surrounding community. Sustainable companies have a positive social impact; therefore SIC will highlight and favor companies that are their respective industry leaders in sustainability.

“The reason I’m interested in this is the sustainability bit. It sounded like a good way to make myself learn which companies I can actually trust,” said Evan Herbst ’07.

With a given sum of virtual start-up funds, contestants will attempt to create the most profitable portfolio of sustainable companies. Investment options will be limited to Innovest Group’s Global 100 most sustainable corporations, and rankings will be based on the total percentage return of portfolios throughout the ten week duration stretching from March 1 to May 11.

The winning group or individual will receive the Sustainable Investment Award presented by both the Sustainable Investment Challenge Committee and The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise. All winners will be noted on the CSGE website and will be afforded the opportunity to connect with prominent sustainable and banking firms. A monetary award is being considered as well.

If the principles of sustainability and social responsibility are exposed to college students at an early stage, Tan said, perhaps the future generation of business leaders will be influenced for the better both in their thoughts and activities.

“We plan to make this huge, by increasing awareness at campuses across the nation and even other countries, in hopes of influencing the next generation of business leaders to have more socially responsible thought regarding business decisions,” he said.