Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Alnoor Ebrahim, V. Kasturi Rangan. The Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version (referred as “Acumen Measurement” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Leadership & Managing People. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Social enterprise, Strategy, Sustainability.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version Case Study

As Acumen Fund, a global venture philanthropy firm, moves forward with an investment portfolio exceeding $22 million, it runs into two critical measurement problems. First, how should it track the performance of each investment when its interest is not just the bottom line, but also social impact? What should its performance tracking system look like to enable ease of comparison, and to identify problems before they become too significant to fix? The second challenge involves attracting investors. Acumen wants to build the field of "social investing" by creating a new asset class for investors who care about social impact. Doing so will require working with competitors in the field in order to establish benchmarks and standards of measurement. How can Acumen build industry-wide benchmarks when peer organizations are concerned about confidentiality of data? Without such comparisons, how will Acumen attract investors to the field?

Case Authors : Alnoor Ebrahim, V. Kasturi Rangan

Topic : Leadership & Managing People

Related Areas : Social enterprise, Strategy, Sustainability

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10022337) -10022337 - -
Year 1 3456959 -6565378 3456959 0.9434 3261282
Year 2 3972844 -2592534 7429803 0.89 3535817
Year 3 3959824 1367290 11389627 0.8396 3324745
Year 4 3243069 4610359 14632696 0.7921 2568814
TOTAL 14632696 12690658

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2668321

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Profitability Index
2. Net Present Value
3. Internal Rate of Return
4. Payback Period

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Acumen Measurement have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
2. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Acumen Measurement shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Leadership & Managing People Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Acumen Measurement often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Acumen Measurement needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10022337) -10022337 - -
Year 1 3456959 -6565378 3456959 0.8696 3006051
Year 2 3972844 -2592534 7429803 0.7561 3004041
Year 3 3959824 1367290 11389627 0.6575 2603649
Year 4 3243069 4610359 14632696 0.5718 1854235
TOTAL 10467976

The Net NPV after 4 years is 445639

(10467976 - 10022337 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10022337) -10022337 - -
Year 1 3456959 -6565378 3456959 0.8333 2880799
Year 2 3972844 -2592534 7429803 0.6944 2758919
Year 3 3959824 1367290 11389627 0.5787 2291565
Year 4 3243069 4610359 14632696 0.4823 1563980
TOTAL 9495263

The Net NPV after 4 years is -527074

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9495263 - 10022337 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Acumen Measurement to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Acumen Measurement has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Acumen Measurement can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Acumen Measurement, then the stock price of the Acumen Measurement should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Acumen Measurement should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Alnoor Ebrahim, V. Kasturi Rangan (2018), "Acumen Fund: Measurement in Impact Investing (B), Spanish Version Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.