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Students Pitch Best Ideas for Sustainable Finance Innovation

Meet the 12 finalist teams who will pitch their financial solutions to urgent social and environmental problems in the 2023 Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge finals. 

From investing in cold-storage facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa to addressing sustainable airline fuel supply issues with private equity to tackling deforestation and loss of biodiversity in the Brazilian Amazon through debt-for-nature swaps, graduate students in this year’s Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge proposed a global set of creative financial solutions to address critical environmental and social issues.

Now in its 13th year, the Challenge, hosted by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing, this year saw 313 students from 53 countries submit proposals for projects in 27 countries.

2023 Sustainable Investing Challenge Snapshots

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Students' Home Countries


Countries Targeted for Impact


Twelve teams are advancing to the final round of the competition, and the graduate students will present their proposals on April 14th to a group of sustainable investing professionals. Judges will choose winners with financially innovative ideas that can drive sustainability impact at scale.

Meet the 12 finalist teams proposing innovative ways to use finance as a force for good:

Afrovax REIT

  • Proposal: Afrovax REIT will raise sustainability-linked capital to invest in cold storage facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa that will dedicate space to vaccine storage to close the “last-mile” vaccination gap.

  • School: Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

Auaca Fund: Deforestation Prevention and Sustainable Farming through Debt-for-Nature Swaps

  • Proposal: Focused on the Brazilian Amazon and the global impact of deforestation and biodiversity loss, the Auaca team’s concepts proposes redirecting Brazilian coupon payments on their sovereign debt to fund conservation and the promotion of sustainable farming practices.

  • School: University College London

Blockchain-Enabled Variable Rate Water Credit Offset Bonds

  • Proposal: This team aims to address water scarcity in the US’ Colorado River Basin and other water crisis areas through water offset credits, leveraging a BlueCert bond and underpinned by a blockchain contracting solution.

  • School: Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

FuelForward Fund

  • Proposal: FuelForward is a private equity fund which aims to address sustainable air fuel supply issues through the acquisition of increasingly unprofitable European oil refineries and retrofitting them for SAF production.

  • School: IESE Business School, University of Navarra

Green Future Reclamation Fund "GFRF"

  • Proposal: The GFRF students have recognized a market gap in the financing of mining site land reclamation processes in Indonesia and proposes a creative combination of bonds and carbon credits to facilitate mining companies’ mandated remediation and reclamation activities.

  • School: TIAS School for Business and Society

HIV Fighter Fund

  • Proposal: HIV Fighter Fund is a special purpose vehicle that incentivizes joint ventures between global pharmaceutical companies and PEPFAR-contracted manufacturers in Sub-Saharan Africa to induce the development of resilient and efficient local supply chains.

  • School: Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Kelp Klique Sustainability-Linked Fund

  • Proposal: Kelp Klique will purchase capital-intensive harvesting equipment and lease it to kelp farmers to enable them to sustainably scale and contribute to ocean de-acidification and biodiversity preservation.

  • School: Schulich School of Business, York University


  • Proposal: Saarthi partners with community organizations and employers to provide social services, job training and loans to victims of domestic violence in India in exchange for a share of future income.

  • School: University of Connecticut, Yale School of Management, Yale University


  • Proposal: Soilsurance is an alternative to US federal crop insurance that accounts for the risk-
    mitigation benefits of improved soil health. Farmers earn a discount on their
    premiums based on soil-building practices, while improved farm resilience reduces payouts.

  • School: Columbia Business School, Columbia University

Sustainable Runway Fund

  • Proposal: Sustainable Runway Fund is a special purpose vehicle that makes investments in Ioncell manufacturing capacity in Vietnam to improve the sustainability of the fast fashion supply chain.

  • School: Questrom School of Business, Boston University

Sustainable Stubble Fund

  • Proposal: Sustainable Stubble Fund will reduce air pollution and land degradation associated with stubble burning by financing community-level Compressed Biogas plants and incentivizing supply-chain stability through community ownership and surplus trading agreements.

  • School: Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi

Village Savings and Agriculture Insurance (VSAI)

  • Proposal: Focusing on the impact of climate change on Ugandan farming, the VSAI team has proposed an insurance instrument that can underwrite crops and draw on the strength and partnership of local Village Savings & Loan agencies to keep smallholder farmers afloat.

  • School: Faculty of Agriculture-Gulu University

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