Collaborating to Make an Impact

The Ballard Center names its first Ballard Fellow

Nearly 2.5 billion people around the world live on less than $2 a day. In efforts to develop a solution, Lewis Hower helped create the University Impact Fund, a program that will provide income generating opportunities for the poor.

For his role in this noteworthy cause, the Melvin J. Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance at Brigham Young University is pleased to announce Hower as its first Ballard Fellow. As a fellow, Hower has received a grant to continue growing UIF. In return, he teaches BYU students about the impact investing industry and helps provide internships and job opportunities for interested students.

"Impact investing is an emerging field of work that benefits the poor around the world," says Todd Manwaring, managing director of the Ballard Center. "We are excited to work with Lewis on launching this program that will provide great experiential learning internships for students from many different universities."

Impact investing is the process of placing capital in companies or funds that directly generate some type of a social good, whether they help produce clean water, provide health care or alleviate poverty. Impact investors seek to maximize both financial and social returns. UIF is a consulting shop for these entrepreneurs and funders.

"We recruit students from local universities, like University of Utah, Westminster College and BYU, to come work in our program, and we train them in financial analysis, business principles and economic development issues," says Hower, executive director of UIF. "The students work collaboratively in teams to facilitate social entrepreneurs and impact investors to make informed decisions about specific projects and potential investments."

Right now there are two BYU students working at UIF, along with four interns from other universities. UIF wants to increase the number of students involved in the program to 20 or 30 during the next few years. Students help with a wide range of projects for clients who are trying to solve difficult social problems.

"Currently I am working with a company whose mission is to become the Berkshire Hathaway of the developing world," says Justin King, a second-year MBA student from Kaysville, Utah, and an associate for UIF. "It is my job to help the company figure out its financial model, strategy and the portfolio companies in which it will invest."

By becoming a Ballard Fellow, Hower is able to use his past experience in impact investing to help UIF students become strong players in an emerging industry.  

"We are building a portfolio of projects and investments that will let the industry know of the important work being done at UIF and at the Ballard Center," Hower says. "One of our goals is to help brand the Ballard Center and BYU as a standout resource and university in the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing."

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Bethany Morgan