Background - 10.05.2019 - 00:00 

Wings of Excellence Award: three approaches to a sustainable economy

Private capital for sustainable projects, an open-source database for impact investing, and a tax system that encourages social entrepreneurship: it is for these ideas that three young guests of the 49th St.Gallen Symposium received the Wings of Excellence Award. They defended their approaches in a discussion with Harvard Professor Linda Hill and the journalist Riz Khan.
Source: HSG Newsroom

10 May 2019. This year’s application for participation in the St.Gallen Symposium set students the task of dealing with the question of a new purpose for capital: "Is it as good as it gets? – What approach would you suggest to change the current purpose of capital?". Approx. 750 students from all over the world tackled the question and submitted their ideas in the form of an essay limited to 2,100 words. Reuben Muhindi Wambui from the Graduate School Geneva, Natalie Hei Tung Lau from the University of Pennsylvania and Toan Do from Yale University, whose essays were selected as the three best contributions, presented their work on the evening of the second conference day of the St.Gallen Symposium.

The event was moderated by Prof. Linda Hill from Harvard University and journalist Riz Khan. After a humorous introduction by Riz Khan, Linda Hill started the event, which was devoted to the topic “Capital for Purpose“, with a talk about the future management of innovations. Her address focused on the resources required for such a management of innovations and for a successful working culture that would be geared to this objective.

Three innovative approaches

This was followed by the presentation of the three finalists, who took their seats on the panel, which previously had remained empty. The students Reuben Muhindi Wambui, Natalie Hei Tung Lau end Toan Do had five minutes each to present their visions about this topic. Whereas Toan Do advocated an empowerment of companies with a social impact on the basis of a newly devised tax system, Natalie Hei Tung Lau championed an open-source database for impact investment. To conclude, Reuben Muhindi Wambui presented his ideas about the intensification of the potential of private capital for the funding of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

After the brief presentations by the three finalists, the programme continued with a discussion round chaired by Linda Hill, which primarily focused on questions concerning the realisation options and potential dangers and obstacles in connection with the implementation of the three projects suggested by the students. After the finalists had successfully faced some critical and challenging questions, they were awarded their prizes.

Appreciation of the three best essays

The first prize was awarded to Reuben Muhindi Wambui for his essay entitled "Systemic Interventions for Sustainable Capital Financing" and his development of the idea, which was acknowledged to be a provocative and innovative approach.

The second prize went to Natalie Hei Tung Lau, who was praised for the practice-oriented and creative vision in her essay on "An Open-source Impact Database for Impact Investment".

The third prize was received by Toan Do for his essay entitled "Empowering Social Impact Businesses".

The three finalists’ essays and the approaches presented in them can be found at