Impact investing: Building a pathway for young people

Date: 02 October 2023

Young people need to be involved in investment decisions which affect them and the world they inherit. On 5 October 2023, the World YMCA and the Geneva Graduate Institute (GGI) are collaborating to explore how to increase youth participation in meaningful action around sustainable finance. 

It’s part of the ‘Building Bridges’ initiative launched in 2019 by Swiss local and national authorities, the finance community, the United Nations, and non-governmental organisations. It establishes connections between the international organisations and the financial institutions based in Geneva. Its primary objective is to expedite the transition to a global economic model that aligns with both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and YMCA Vision 2030

The Geneva Impact Investing Association (GIIA) represents the inaugural student initiative of the GGI. It centres its efforts on impact investing, sustainable finance, and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. GGI’s Center for Finance and Development also functions as the Institute’s hub for financial research and development.

Caroline Chernov

At the Building Bridges event on 5 October 2023, the World YMCA is partnering with both centres to address “Unleashing Youth Potential to Accelerate a Sustainable Finance Revolution”. This event is an integral part of the Building Bridges Action Days.

We spoke with Caroline Chernov, who leads Global Impact Investing for the World YMCA, to gain insights into what to expect at “Building Bridges” – and why it matters.

Question: What is sustainable financing?

Answer: ‘Finance’ is how we use money, and ‘sustainable’ means doing things in a way that doesn’t harm but helps our people and planet. Put them together, and you’ve got sustainable finance – using money in a smart and responsible way to make our world better.

Question: What is your role and that of the World YMCA at this event?

Answer: With the World YMCA as co-host, our role has encompassed participating in event planning, including session objectives, activities and facilitation approach, promotion and inviting select participants and guests. On the event day (5 October), we are hosting a table to facilitate discussion; following that, all the tables will share their work on engaging young people in impact investing. 

Q:  The finance industry is becoming more sustainable, yet youth participation and involvement in driving this change need to catch up. Why is that, and what do you hope this event will accomplish?

A: Young people are not sufficiently engaged and participating in impact investing. This is a result of insufficient opportunities to:

          Build skills and knowledge of impact investing

          Develop mentors and networks to gain experience and participate in impact investing – as investors

          Participate in field-building discussions that shape policy and practices

          Take part in shaping impact investing solutions, particularly those targeting young people. There are inadequate opportunities for their needs and aspirations to be part of the design of solutions

This event seeks to address these barriers and formulate a plan for overcoming them. Furthermore, the objective is to chart a path forward for increased engagement of young people in impact investing.

Q: Why is it essential young people get involved in driving sustainable finance?

A: Impact investing allocates capital to solutions that drive positive people and planet impact and financial returns. Young people must be part of shaping these solutions and ensuring that investment goes to solutions that young people believe will make the greatest difference. Since many of these solutions will directly affect young people, it is essential that they, with lived experiences, have the opportunity to influence the design of these solutions.

Q: The event features an interactive Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) that participants will collaboratively develop after the workshop. Can you give us a glimpse at what that will look like?

A: The Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) is expected to serve as a roadmap of initiatives to increase young people’s involvement in impact investing.

Q: What are your hopes for the next 1 to 5 years?

A: World YMCA’s impact investing efforts aim to increase young people’s participation in the following areas:

          More young people initiating their own impact investment solutions

          More impact capital and solutions going to young people most in need

Greater participation of young people in shaping the design and delivery of impact investing solutions that target their specific needs and preferences

          More young people actively participating in impact investing committees and the broader industry, influencing the allocation of impact capital

          More young people participating in shaping policies and practices relating to impact capital


Q: How do you perceive the role of the YMCA in this context?

A: The YMCA plays a crucial role in ensuring that young people have the opportunities to participate in and contribute to impact investing. Many young people are deeply committed to reshaping capitalism to ensure that business generates positive people and planet impact alongside profit. They are dedicated to utilising capital for good while maintaining financial sustainability. Impact investing presents a unique opportunity in this regard, and the YMCA is fully committed to empowering young people to become active change-makers in this space.

For more information, visit the Geneva Impact Investing Association (GIIA) website or contact Caroline Chernov, Lead for Global Impact Investing at the World YMCA and Sophie Mouens at the Geneva Impact Investing Association ( You can also follow the Geneva Impact Investing Association on LinkedIn