This Launching the MicroBuild Fund case study focuses on the creation of a blended finance facility that was sponsored by Habitat for Humanity International to attract funding into housing microfinance on a global scale. The fund – called the MicroBuild Fund – is a demonstration fund. The primary protagonist in this case is the nonprofit organization, Habitat for Humanity International. The case study focuses on Habitat’s decision to sponsor the launch of its first impact investment fund – the MicroBuild Fund, and the structuring and documentation issues Habitat confronted as it blended capital from a variety of actors. Secondary points of view include other significant, early investors in the MicroBuild Fund – including in particular the Omidyar Network (ON) (equity from a private foundation) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) (debt from the US Government’s development finance institution (DFI). As of October 1, 2019, OPIC became the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), a new agency that will consolidate the capabilities of OPIC and USAID’s Development Credit Authority.).

The case study starts on the day that OPIC is expected to sign its loan agreement with the MicroBuild Fund. The story is told from the point of view of a senior manager at Habitat for Humanity (Patrick Kelley), who was instrumental in conceiving this fund and getting the various parties to join in the fund’s launch. As Patrick waits for the signing of the OPIC Loan Agreement to occur, he reflects on the long road that it took to get to this point. In particular, he reviews the challenges that arose as he and his colleagues worked to convince the Board of Habitat for Humanity to agree to sponsor this fund and then attract a variety of sources of funding into this impact investment fund (US government, high net worth individuals, fund manager, foundation). The case study ends with the press release announcing the launch and funding by OPIC.

This case study is the first in a forthcoming series of case studies that map the life of a single impact investment fund over a decade – from its launch to winding up. This longitudinal approach to creating a series of case studies about the same impact investment fund will offer the field an opportunity to see how an impact investment fund must adapt and change to respond to opportunities and challenges over its life.

Learning Objectives

The Launching the MicroBuild Fund case study is organized in the form of modules that can be taught in a law school classroom or in a Master of Business Administration (MBA)/Master of Public Administration (MPA) classroom. Accordingly, the learning objectives listed below include some that are common to all students and others that are relevant solely to law students or MBA/MPA students, as noted.

  • Evaluate the opportunities and challenges of catalyzing and blending multiple types of capital when launching a pioneering impact investment fund [common to all students]
  • Examine key legal, policy and business issues raised by launching an impact investment fund that addresses multiple shareholders’ expectations relative to social impact and financial performance [common to all students]
  • Identify key contractual provisions aimed at mitigating risks and aligning interests of multiple parties to an impact investment fund that operates in emerging markets [for law students]
  • Assess whether an impact investment fund’s social impact metrics are appropriate to the fund’s theory of change [for MBA and MPA students]

Disclaimer: This case was written by Katy Yang with research support from Simone Shaheen, under the guidance of Deborah Burand, Associate Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law, and Scott Taitel, Clinical Professor of Public Service at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. This case was prepared as the basis for discussion and is not intended to serve as an endorsement, a source of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management. The case does not consitute, and must not be relied or acted upon as, legal advice. Readers should seek individual advice from qualified legal or financial counsel in relation to their specific circumstances.

For Professional Educators

Teaching Notes

Teaching notes for the Launching the MicroBuild Fund case study will be available free of charge to educators in early 2020. Educators need to request access or sign in as a registered educator to gain access to these teaching materials.

The teaching notes will provide instructors with a blueprint for facilitating the case study and will help instructors adapt the case study to the needs of their audience. The teaching notes are being designed as standalone modules that build on each of the following disciplinary strengths: law, business, and public policy.


Katy Yang

2018-2019 Fellow at the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU School of Law

Professor Deborah Burand

Associate Professor of Clinical Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU School of Law

Professor Scott Taitel

Clinical Professor of Public Service and Director of Social Impact, Innovation & Investment at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service