Yuwei Shi
Casa Fuente Building CF443C
(831) 647-6682

Yuwei Shi is Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He was the founding dean of Middlebury’s Graduate School of International Policy and Management, and led the integration of its two predecessor schools in policy and business. He was also the founding director of the Frontier Market Scouts Program, an award winning education program in social entrepreneurship and impact investing. Yuwei is an expert in competitive strategy, early-stage venture business model development and venture performance evaluation. He has published over three dozen papers in peer-reviewed journals and a number of books and book chapters. He is an award winning teacher and researcher who has taught MBA and doctoral programs in nearly a dozen universities across the globe.

He had over a decade of experience building programs and companies as administrator at the Nanyang Business School and Middlebury, consultant to Andersen Consulting and Bain & Co, founder and executive at SFKX, PeerView, DeepK and Scholarly Exchange, and columnist for the China Economic Daily and other business media. His last non-academic job was Advising Partner at Indachin, a boutique venture capital firm, responsible for business model methodology to help grow the portfolio companies.

Yuwei earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Master of Comparative Law from the Dedmen School of Law at Southern Methodist University, and PhD in international management from University of Texas at Dallas School of Management.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

In spring 2020, we will divide the semester into two parts: literature review and research design. During the first part, we will read and do critical literature review of the current scholarship on topics related to your specific research questions and develop research proposal and outline. Then we will move to social science research design training by working closely with Meta lab to learn skills on conducting field research, i.e. surveys, interviews, data collection and analysis. Right before the departure, we will also hold a session on inter-cultural competence training.

During the study trip ( May 20-June4), we will explore different development experiences in China – discovering the hidden China –beginning with an orientation in Shanghai, and then travel by train to nearby Anhui province. We will visit social enterprises in Shanghai, agribusiness started by Mao’s “sent-down youth” in Anhui, village-government tourism models in the ancient town of Hongcun (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the artists’ commune in Bishan with its international film and music festivals, handicraft schools teaching urban students traditional skills, and farmers using wechat to sell organic vegetables. Through this practicum you will explore how China is developing in often unknown ways, as well as enjoying the beautiful mountains, ancient villages, and bamboo forests of Anhui province.

We will continue to work on analyzing the data we have collected during the practicum trip and completing the final deliverable under the supervision of Prof. Wei Liang and Prof. Yuwei Shi. Students will submit their final deliverable by the end of summer.

Spring 2020 - MIIS

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Impact Capital Stacks & Management Strategies

Eric Maltzer, Partner, Medora Ventures

As the growth of impact investing has accelerated in recent years, so have the capital structures of impact funds diversified. However, though the ecosystem of impact capital stacks is as varied as ever, not all are succeeding. In this module, we will talk about the shapes, sizes, and characteristics of impact capital stacks; we will learn to distinguish between the funds that succeed and the funds that struggle; as the discussion develops, we will address what cross-sector financial models have been tried already, what we can learn from them, and how we might continue to innovate in the coming years.

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Getting Real About Impact

Morgan Simon, Founding Partner, Candide Group

The objective is to teach students to be “conscious consumers” of the current practice of impact investment and social enterprise. What is it, and what are its advantages and pitfalls as a strategy for social change? What kinds of questions and practices will help maximize its potential? Combining lecture, discussion, group work and public debates, our objective as a teaching team is to host a lively day of tough questions, leading to strong insights about the sector.

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Impact Measurement and Management

Sara Olsen, CEO, SVT Group

Methodology Subcommittee Co-chair, Social Value International

All impact investing is a combination of two things: intention and measurement. So, how can impact be measured? What is “impact management”? What is the role of the impact professional in ensuring that quality information about impact is used to inform design, management and resource allocation decisions to improve social and environmental value? What is the right impact information to obtain, and what are the relevant reporting standards to use? How can the necessary information be acquired given that existing market and cultural dynamics do not provide sufficient financial incentive to investors to devote resources to measuring impact? And, if at the highest level impact investing as a movement is intended to rapidly put the global economy on a trajectory that will avert climate catastrophe and defuse geopolitical instability driven by economic inequality, what must impact professionals do now to shift the culture of investing so that it supports appropriate impact management?

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Impact Measure Practice

Ashley Speyer, Senior Associate, 60 Decibels

We’ve allowed ourselves to believe that understanding social performance is academic, complex, and separate from business operations. It doesn’t have to be. Acumen built Lean Data to help companies incorporate impact measurement and customer-centricity into business-as-usual. This course provides an overview of impact measurement within the impact investing field, more specifically the Acumen contexts, by discussing how Lean Data was built to address core challenges faced by social enterprises and funders, along with case studies to illustrate some appropriate impact measurement strategies in those contexts and Lean Data implementation.

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Scaling Social Enterprises

Alex Lazarow, Investment Director, Cathay Innovation

This module focuses on key challenges and methods in scaling a social enterprise from seed-stage to growth. We will highlight the differences in scalable business models, and discuss the operational stages and capital needs of growing businesses. In addition, we will evaluate unit economics and the unique challenges of scaling. Finally, we will discuss the importance of scaling sectors along with firms. Through case studies and in-class group activities the class will explore the process of scaling start-ups.

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Social Innovation & Investment in Emerging Markets: Current Affairs

Patricia Chin-Sweeney, Co-Founder and Managing Director, I-DEV International

Impact Investing and Social Enterprise has evolved over the years as parties involved learned the unique dynamics and challenges of operating and investing in emerging markets. This course will discuss the latest topics with a focus on the forefront of East Africa, Latin America and a focus on new investment models and new entrepreneurship approaches. The course will provide case studies of leading innovators and trends, especially those from East Africa, where social innovation and impact investing has built out particularly strong over the years. Class participants and guest speakers will weigh in with different perspectives, and the differing philosophies around impact and international development from Silicon Valley to DC to those operating and investing on the ground.

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Mobilize Capital for Impact Investing

Scott Nance, Vice President of Business Development, CapShift

This module provides an overview of the realities facing impact industry stakeholders as they seek to mobilize financial capital towards solving the world’s toughest social and environmental challenges. Major topics to be covered include institutional and individual sources of capital, public and private impact investments, and sales distribution strategies. Concerns about “impact-washing,” i.e. the use of impact jargon or marketing to raise money or inflate reputations without delivering real impact, will also be considered. Real world examples of capital fundraising will be discussed, as viewed through a collective lens of senior business development and marketing professionals. Students will actively engage in groups on a case study designed to explore strategic alternatives for the distribution challenges faced by impact investment solutions providers.

Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Winter 2020 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term

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Meeting dates: April 22, 2019 - May 10, 2019

This course connects market-driven impacts and successful private enterprise management directly to the world’s most challenging problems. The role and power of markets to impact positively the sustainable development goals (SDGs) is central to the course’s conceptualization. Students acquire and apply – through a dynamic “raw case” methodology -- business competencies to impact global problems that serve also to assure and enhance the long-term viability and sustainability of the enterprise. Morover, the course introduces students to the concept of not just business impact on problems, but of blended impact – the solution power we produce by aligning private sector, public sector, and nonmarket (i.e., the nonprofit sector) efforts—and the skills, competencies, and tools that permit us to do that. The course aims to build a competent foundation in enabling for-profit enterprises to tackle wicked problems, and a course that students leave with clear ideas of additional business competencies they wish to build while here at MIIS. The educational philosophy of the course is founded on adaptive learning, learning-on-demand, and capacity building in learning-to-learn. Adaptive learning also means incorporating cross-disciplinary perspectives, frameworks, and techniques often in compressed time frames. Students should expect similar complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty, and volatility throughout the raw-case study as dealing with a tough business problem in real life.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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This course combines four days of the FMS January training.

The growth of the social enterprise space depends on the quality of the entrepreneurs and the activity of the investors. This module will outline the landscape of enterprises in emerging markets, as well as the active impact investors in the space. Frontier Market Scout Fellows will learn how investors conduct due diligence, making investments, and investee support, as well as learn how to evaluate, promote, and assist enterprises in their own activity. By taking students through a brief history of the field and an engaging case study, as well as a discussion of the book The Innovation Blind Spot, which highlights commonly made mistakes in investing, the course hopes to put the Fellows in both the entrepreneurs’ and investors’ seats while giving an inside look at how an impact investor actually operates.

The second module takes you to the different venture ecosystems around the world. It helps you understand their similarities and differences, the unique challenges that entrepreneurs in different ecosystems face, and the matters of import to investors across different geographical regions. You will also learn about some of the existing models for collaborative work among investors and entrepreneurs across regions that help to bridge resource and knowledge disparities. It is a course where you learn by doing. You will step into the shoes of an entrepreneur building a venture in a region outside the well-known venture hotspots and present your idea for funding to a sophisticated entrepreneur. You will learn what factors are important in telling your story in a compelling way, and you will negotiate a deal for financing with the investor. You will consider some of the thorny questions surrounding social ventures and why some investors shy away from them. You will analyze some socially-minded ventures that have been successful in attracting funding to learn what their funding sources were, and what factors contributed the most to helping them secure funding. Finally, you will come up with a Plan B, C, or D for when Plan A doesn’t work and you are not able to raise financing, especially when your Plan A is to engage your bankrolling dad.

The final module introduces the new concept of using exchange network to model a business. It is designed to provide participants with the basic skills for designing low-resolution business models that adhere to the essential tenets of strategic management while taking deliberately a stakeholder approach, typical for a social enterprise. The learning is predominantly experiential using live cases, which allows participants to gain first-hand experience in developing a deep understanding of the difficult challenges that a social enterprise is faced with, brainstorming ideas to overcome the challenges, generating innovative business models based on some or all of these ideas, and obtaining real-time feedback on alternative business models from each other and in-class experts. Participants will learn the fundamental elements of a stakeholder-based business model, its representation using exchange network, and the design thinking approach to generating innovative social enterprise business models. They will also understand the strategic logics underlying a superior business model based on the time-tested principles of strategic management. More importantly, the participants will learn practical tools and skills for designing a new business model through a real-world, real-time business challenge.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Building & Investing in Social Ventures II

This is a project-based course to enable students to gain in-depth experience of building a social enterprise from scratch in a complex environment, and to learn from the experience about the management of social enterprise and impact investment. The aim is for students to develop key understandings and skills in conceiving a social innovation idea and transforming it into a scalable venture with measurable impact. The course covers concepts, perspectives, and tools for social ventures to reach the various development milestones, such as building an innovative business model and competitive strategies, developing meaningful strategies to scale the enterprise and social impact, building a convincing financial model and practical financing strategies, developing the right legal and corporate structure for the venture, and building an impact measurement system that are material to the enterprise as well as stakeholders. This course adopts the raw case-method of teaching in order to minimize the classroom – practice gap commonly observed in business and management education.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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Areas of Interest

Social venture management, impact investing, and corporate social innovation

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Organization, Strategy and International Management, University of Texas at Dallas Jindal School of Management

Professor Shi has been teaching at the Institute since 1999.

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