One year ago we announced the launch of the first Belgian Social Impact Bond. This achievement was reached in a record timing of less than a year, by an informal team of professionals including EVPA member Kois Invest.
Guest blog post by: Pierre-Louis Christiane, Investment Analyst at Kois Invest
This Social Impact Bond brings together Actiris, the Brussels agency for employment, the mentoring organisation Duo for a Job and social investors (gathered by Kois Invest) in a quest for a common objective: the reduction of unemployment among young migrants in Brussels.
As a reminder, Brussels-based Duo for a Job offers a new approach to professional insertion of migrants: migrant jobseekers are ‘matched’ with experienced local retirees, and the so-called ‘duos’ work together during a period of six months to connect the migrant to local networks and help him/her find a professional opportunity. This social innovative initiative is financed during two years by a Social Impact Bond. Social Impact Bonds have become popular financing instruments, mostly so in Anglo-Saxon countries. With this Belgian initiative, Social Impact Bonds came on the European continent. In addition, Kois Invest is still working on the launch of other Social Impact Bonds in Belgium and abroad.
One year after the launch of this Social Impact Bond, we are also able to share some learnings about the Social Impact Bond. However, it remains difficult to explain in detail what we learned, or to give out a theory about it. Throughout the year we ensured the follow-up of the program and we realised great collaborative achievements together with Duo for a Job and Actiris. We had to support the collaboration of Duo for a Job and Actiris in order to overcome the risk of not finding enough mentors and mentees. This has been done with great success and led the Social Impact Bond to reach its first year’s operational milestone.
We also shared our knowledge with students or during various panels which has been encouraging us to continue with our other Social Impact Bonds projects. Finally, the feedback we received from the investors and the interest of the social and the public sector comfort us in our belief that Social Impact Bonds will be part of financial and public sector revolution that will enable investors to align their interests with public policies.
What we retrieve most of this experience is a way to act and communicate towards public partners and NGOs. Social Impact Bonds are all about aligning the interest of every stakeholder around the table. That can only be done through a sound equilibrium of incentives and benefits. As an impact investing firm, we were constantly looking to combine social impact and financial return. In addition, now, with the Social Impact Bonds, we must also combine legal and institutional complexity. Once this combination is done as we understand the mechanics of public decision taking, we can now rely on this asset that we have been building up for more than a year ago. Hopefully we will then make it valuable for other social challenges.
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