In 2021, I was selected to take part in a three-month-long internship at Music Securities, a leading Japanese financial institution in social impact investing and crowdfunding. Thanks to my colleagues, their guidance, and shared values, I have had the pleasure and extraordinary opportunity to intern at the company for ten, enriching months.
I first came across the concept of impact investing during one of my lectures at GraSPP, and I was instantly drawn to this approach to financing which looks beyond traditional considerations of risks and returns. Music Securities is one of the first companies in Japan to realize the disruptive potential of this investment approach, which considers the impact that a business or an investment can have on society and the environment. Music Securities’ main business, Securite, is a crowdfunding platform through which individuals can invest small sums of money to support companies – usually Japanese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – whose mission or business they empathize with.
While interning at Music Securities, my main responsibility consisted of designing a social impact report model which could be used to periodically communicate the non-economic impact of funded businesses to investors and the public. Securite’s business model is unique because it centers on empathy as a key driver of social impact investments, and this makes the task of reporting to investors particularly interesting and different from what can be expected at large financial institutions.
Beyond social impact measurement, Music Securities has provided me with endless opportunities for professional growth. As Music Securities’ activities are not limited to Japan, I have had the pleasure of supporting my colleagues in meetings with institutions such as JICA, as well as with SMEs from developing countries such as Mongolia and Lao PDR. Some of my tasks included conducting research on these countries’ investment environments and opportunities for crowdfunding as well as looking for businesses that could be funded through Securite.
Most recently, I have supported the company in becoming the first Japanese signatory to join the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)’s Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative. I have created a draft model to report on the company’s efforts to support the sustainable blue economy as well as drafted guiding documents for the evaluation of its investments against the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles. Significantly, together with my colleagues, I was able to take part in various Sustainable Blue Finance Initiative meetings, alongside not only the UNEP FI but also large financial institutions and leaders of the sustainable blue economy.
Despite challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, my internship has been conducted entirely in person, enabling me to closely interact with my Japanese colleagues. To intern at Music Securities, Japanese at a conversational level is sufficient as several employees speak fluent English. Moreover, all my colleagues have shown me great kindness and patience taking time out of their busy schedules to answer my questions and doubts.
Being an intern at Music Securities has shown me how pushing the limits of traditional finance can bring about valuable, positive impacts on society and the environment. As a student of public policy, I could greatly expand my knowledge on topics such as crowdfunding, SME financing in developed and developing countries, blended finance, and more. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Music Securities, my colleagues, and GraSPP for this exceptional opportunity. I believe that the rich experiences made at Music Securities will be invaluable for my career and for my professional growth going forward.