China is the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases but has also become a major investor in climate technology. It’s a trend Yijing Wang is capitalising on. Her impact investing company, 2060 Advisory, is named after the target year for the country to achieve carbon neutrality.
Yijing is the founding partner and CEO of the firm which is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs to make investments to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Clients include Carbonstop, China’s first carbon management software and consulting solutions provider, and Vpptech, China’s leading company of virtual power plant operations.
Sustainability and climate change should be at the heart of every business
Yijing has recently won the British Council Study UK Business and Innovation Award, recognising her creative approach to finding solutions and financial opportunities.
“I’m absolutely thrilled”, she says. “It speaks to all those who deeply believed I could do anything if I put my heart and soul into it. I definitely think sustainability, climate change and ESG (environmental, social and governance standards) should be built into the very core of each business. It is the biggest challenge of the time we are living in, despite the economic downturn and so many uncertainties. This is also the biggest business opportunity of our time.”
The award caps a remarkable spell of achievements. Yijing is China’s first Forbes 30 under 30 in impact investing, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and the first Chinese recipient of the “Impact Investing World Forum” scholarship
I definitely think sustainability, climate change and ESG should be built into the very core of each business.
How writing a dissertation at Cambridge Judge identified a gap in the Chinese market
Born in Hangzhou, China, Yijing studied her A-levels in the UK, completing her undergraduate degree in social anthropology at SOAS University of London. She then returned to China, helping to build the impact investing ecosystem in the country. To consolidate her research and develop frameworks to solve sustainable challenges with business and innovation, Yijing started a Masters in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School in 2019.
“The whole Cambridge experience really shaped and aligned my thoughts,” says Yijing. “From my professors, to professors from other disciplines whose classes I crashed, to my classmates, and conversations I had at formal dinners at colleges. It’s so lovely to have a place like Cambridge to come back to from a hectic working environment and to offer the level of intellectual thoughts and tranquility than one can rarely have.”
When the pandemic hit, Yijing returned to China to work on her dissertation for the programme, focusing on China’s impact investment landscape.
“This period was so precious as it allowed me to finally assemble all pieces of thinking, connect the dots, and build fresh understandings on impact investing,” Yijing explains. “One of the key findings in my research paper was the lack of a professional intermediary in China who really understands impact investing to facilitate the capital flow efficiently and effectively.
“Investors and impact entrepreneurs started to reach out to me wanting to help out with their business strategy and fundraising so I started to work on projects while writing up my dissertation, which was very challenging. At the time there were clients coming to me, people around me trying to join my team even though I didn’t have a company. I had always known I would create something, I just didn’t know when. The firm very naturally came into being.”
One of the key findings in my research paper was the lack of a professional intermediary in China who really understands impact investing to facilitate the capital flow efficiently and effectively.
Why reading business books can never compare to the reality of entrepreneurship
Yijing acknowledges that in entrepreneurship things are never perfect, and although she hoped to start with co-founders that proved very difficult. 2060 Advisory is still recruiting at all levels.
She quotes consumer tech entrepreneur Reid Hoffman: “I believe starting a company is like jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down – your willingness to jump is your most valuable asset as an entrepreneur.”
Yijing says she has experienced the advice given in business books “with every inch of my skin”.
“It’s funny, you have read about all the challenges and problems before in business self-help guides, but each challenge is new to you and it feels so hard at the time,” she says. “But when you come out the other side and can give a summary to the people around you, it just reads like another problem from a business book, but now you really feel and understand what that is about. I still feel I have a long way to grow.
“I would love to be connected to any alumni who might be working on technology solutions that are solving the climate and sustainability challenge, as well as investors in this field. I believe together we could scale up the solutions and use our tools to get it right.”
The British Council Study UK Alumni Awards are open to alumni living outside of the UK who have studied at UK higher education institutions within the last 15 years. They recognise alumni who have distinguished themselves through their career and achievements in four categories: Science and Sustainability, Culture and Creativity, Social Action and Business and Innovation.