Impact Investing: the Game

Impact Investing: the GameImagine if, instead of browsing stocks like General Motors, Research in Motion, or Constellation Wines, investors instead took their money and invested it in a carsharing service? Or an organic farm? Impact investing, as this concept is called, has great potential to change the world.

The concept has been gamified by GreenBusinessOwner.com. The result? GBO Hawaii, the sustainability strategy game.

In the game, players are impact investors that start with $500,000, and an ambition to help the state of Hawaii go green. Hawaii is in a particular pickle, and serves as a proverbial canary in a coal mine for the broader global economy. At the moment, Hawaii imports 90% of its food, burns diesel fuel for 90% of its electricity, and its residents would run out of food in 3 days if the boats stopped coming.

That’s where you come in. Strategically, you align your investment money with human resource cards (the cards represent people who have the skills, abilities, and desire to work in the green economy). The goal? To help offset the most barrels of oil burned (by investing in things like wind farms and energy efficiency), the most cans of processed “FOOD” imported (by investing in things like organic farms, CSA’s, and sustainable restaurants), and the most waste offset (by investing in re-use businesses like architectural salvage).
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For teachers, the game makes a great way to integrate sustainability into your curriculum. There are free lesson plans on the site for 9-12th grade civics, social science, and economics classes, and more are on the way.

As an additional bonus, the game is actually playable as a card game or a board game. They can be bought separately, but buying the board game gets you 2-in-1). The card game is simpler and more portable, and the board game adds a few wrinkles for fun, like these guys:

The “robber barons” of GBO Hawaii

The oil industry lobbyists go from county to county in Hawaii generally wreaking havoc wherever they go (did we tell you this game was true to life or what?). The idea is, wherever the lobbyists are spreading propaganda and negatively influencing public opinion, all the green businesses in that county make less money. Jerks.

So as a player, you have to strategically align your resources as best you can, and then deal with the oil industry lobbyists and public policies (both good an bad) as best you can.

The game is available for $15 plus shipping for the card game, or $38.99 for the board game/card game combo, shipping included. It’s also available on Amazon.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on