Wes Selke was working as an investment banker in Chicago when the church he was attending organized a volunteer trip to Mexico. Over several visits to orphanages in Baja California and Oaxaca, Selke helped with construction projects, led kids in guitar lessons, and served meals to migrant farm workers.
The experience inspired Selke to parlay his business acumen into a new career. “I wanted to do something that would help change society for the better, so I started thinking about how I could do that,” says Selke. “I kept coming back to business. I know and like business, and I could leverage the skill set I had already built.”
To that end, Selke was drawn to Haas by its impact-investing curriculum. He interned at social enterprise investment firm Good Capital during his first summer at Haas, eventually leading to a full-time job. He later moved on to start his own business, Better Ventures.
Better Ventures backs high-growth startups solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, from economic inequality to climate change. One example is SunFunder, which provides loans to off- grid solar companies in sub-Saharan Africa. With Better Ventures’ backing, SunFunder has enabled three million people to get clean affordable energy. Before backing companies, Better Ventures assesses not just a startup’s team and market but also its ability to solve a fundamental human need.
“Some people are skeptical about making market rate returns in impact investing,” says Selke. “But we’re backing startups that are leveraging their mission to outperform the market. These founders are intrinsically motivated to succeed, they can attract and retain top talent, particularly Millennials, and everyone from suppliers to customers wants to do business with them.”