How do Impact Venture Capital firms evaluate social and ecological impact during the screening process of start-ups?

  • Jonas Benedikt Strunk (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Social entrepreneurship and impact investing are on the advance and Impact Venture Capital has established itself as a relevant investment type to finance social and environmental ventures. In contrast to traditional venture capital funds, which have well-established operating principles and, consequently, founders know which screening schemes to expect, the way Impact Venture Capitalists screen deals and provide funding is less clear to both researchers and founders looking for funding. The aim of this thesis is to generate practical insights on how Impact Venture Capitalists evaluate the impact of a company, to what extent this influences the funding decision, and how tools or frameworks are used to evaluate the impact of a company. For this, managers of 15 early-stage funds from all over Europe were interviewed and evaluated applying a qualitative content analysis. The findings of this analysis confirm that there is no standardized approach on how Impact Investors evaluate and measure impact during the screening process. One common approach that was found is the usage of the Sustainable Development Goals in combination with a required measurable impact as well as a clear theory of change. Being among the first studies that explore the decision-making of Impact Venture Capitalists based on firsthand information, this paper lays the ground for a much-needed understanding of the impact schemes applied by VCs. Future studies on the development of appropriate screening tools and frameworks can create added value for both impact ventures and impact investors and would contribute significantly to the development of the industry.
Date of Award29 Apr 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorFilipe Santos (Supervisor)


  • Impact Venture Capital
  • Philanthropic Venture Capital
  • Early-stage investment
  • Impact evaluation
  • Impact screening
  • Impact measurement
  • Decision making


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

Cite this