Finance Friday – July 15, 2016



That’s how many Social Impact Bonds have been issued since 2010.  If you thought there had only been a few noble SIB experiments to date, that’s because this number has quadrupled over the past 3 years.

SIB’s, often called “pay for success” instruments, are public-private partnerships that fund social improvements in a meaningful and measurable way. One appealing characteristic is that they tend to steer support towards effective preventative measures instead of expensive rehabilitation measures.

While this is still a new tool and design and implementation are often challenging, SIB’s are past the pilot phase of development, with approaches that are now being modified and replicated across different issues and different geographies.  There is a lot of early data and early experience to share, and the leaders of this field have compiled a detailed, candid, and insightful report on “the early years,” worthwhile reading for anyone interested in social and/or financial innovation.

The report begins with reference to Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech (also the central theme of Brene Brown’s terrific Daring Greatly), with good reason. Many who are bravely developing new approaches to finance and social change are subject to constant critique. Sure, the bar should be high and we all should be vigilant, especially when innovations impact real live people.  However, empty conjecture and jaded dismissal are big black holes, draining time and wasting potential. Imagine if all of those “cold and timid souls” were instead ignited, with all of that critical energy streaming into further action and further improvement.  Yeah, let’s do that.

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