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Sustainable Venture Capital thesis published

This content is 2 years old and may not reflect reality today nor the author’s current opinion. Please keep its age in mind as you read it.

I’m pleased to share that having recently completed my Executive MBA specialising in Finance at SP Jain School of Global Management here in Singapore, my master’s thesis on Sustainable Venture Capital is now permanently published below and on arXiv at https://arxiv.org/abs/2209.10518.

The code and data used is available on GitHub at https://github.com/samj/sustainable-venture-capital.

All is made available under a permissive Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 license to encourage others to build on my work in this nascent field.


This 114-page paper, dedicated to my late, great friend Bernino Lind who left us too soon during its preparation, includes the following components:

  • Introduction
  • Literary review of extant research, including:
    • Venture Capital
      • Business angel decision making
      • Diversification, risk, and returns
      • Power law distributions
      • Corporate venture innovation
    • Sustainability
      • UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
      • Sustainable venturing (B Corp certification)
    • Related topics
      • Philanthropic venture capital (PhVC)
      • Innovation
  • Research into existing activity and investor preferences, including:
    • Statistics covering existing databases of sustainability startup funding, performance, and exits (i.e., Crunchbase)
    • Surveys of investors covering demographics, preferences, and expectations (i.e., Typeform)
  • Findings and discussions
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • Future directions


Sustainability initiatives are set to benefit greatly from the growing involvement of venture capital, in the same way that other technological endeavours have been enabled and accelerated in the post-war period. With the spoils increasingly being shared between shareholders and other stakeholders, this requires a more nuanced view than the finance-first methodologies deployed to date. Indeed, it is possible for a venture-backed sustainability startup to deliver outstanding results to society in general without returning a cent to investors, though the most promising outcomes deliver profit with purpose, satisfying all stakeholders in ways that make existing ‘extractive’ venture capital seem hollow.

To explore this nascent area, a review of related research was conducted and social entrepreneurs & investors interviewed to construct a questionnaire assessing the interests and intentions of current & future ecosystem participants. Analysis of 114 responses received via several sampling methods revealed statistically significant relationships between investing preferences and genders, generations, sophistication, and other variables, all the way down to the level of individual UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


In the event you’re writing a document for which it is appropriate to cite a Master’s thesis, you can follow the APA’s guidelines for Published Dissertation or Thesis References:

Johnston, S. (2022). Sustainable Venture Capital [Master's thesis, S P Jain School of Global Management]. arXiv. https://arxiv.org/abs/2209.10518