Skill Impact Bond wins AVPN Constellations Award for creating a more equitable world for women in Asia

Since its inception in 2020, the AVPN Constellations Awards have illuminated the transformative power of collaborations that spark change across Asia, with this year’s prestigious award conferred on the Skill Impact Bond 

The theme of the AVPN Constellations Awards 2023 is ‘Creating a More Equitable World for Women and Girls in Asia’ – an idea that is central to the Skill Impact Bond’s mission to advance gender equity for women in the workplace.  

The first-of-its-kind impact bond for employment aims to support 50,000 young jobseekers in India, 60% of whom will be women, by equipping them with the skills needed to secure and retain employment opportunities.  

The challenge the Skill Impact Bond seeks to address is vast. Employment rates in India, particularly for women, remain low despite tremendous effort and investment being channelled into this. The country’s female labour force participation rate has been consistently low at around 30% and research has found that only 10 out of 100 women enrolled in skilling programmes continue to stay in jobs for three months.  

Recognising this, the Skill Impact Bond’s coalition of partners came together to launch the four-year Skill Impact Bond in 2021 – the first of its kind to drive an outcomes-based approach to focus on job placement and retention.  

The Award serves as a testament to the tireless dedication and collaborative spirit of our team and partners. The USD 14.4 million impact bond is a collaborative effort between the British Asian Trust, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, JSW Foundation, HSBC India, Dubai Cares, USAID, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK Government), Dalberg Advisors, and Oxford Policy Management 

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Sharing her excitement on the award and its significance, Abha Thorat-Shah, Executive Director Social Finance at the British Asian Trust said:

We’re absolutely elated to be a Constellations Awards laureate! The Skill Impact Bond is a collaboration like no other, bringing together leaders across government, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society to tackle one of India’s pressing developmental challengesdeclining female labour force participation. By pooling our varied and diverse experiences, approaches and viewpoints, we are collectively driving an innovative programme that works tirelessly at bridging the vast gap that exists between skilling and employment.”

Just a month ago, the Skill Impact Bond’s coalition of partners announced early trends from the initiative’s first few cohorts at an event hosted by the British Asian Trust in New Delhi. Early signs for women look promising and fifteen months in, 72% of the 18,000 young people reached by the Skill Impact Bond are women – most of whom are first time jobseekers. Alongside the high female enrolment rates, the first cohort of Skill Impact Bond indicates a promising retention rate, where 1 in 2 women who have enrolled in the training have continued to work in wage employment for three months.   

The early trends highlight the transformative power of capital in empowering women and enabling them to reach their full potential.  

The Award aim to inspire practical solutions to close the gender gaps prevalent in Asia by acknowledging collaborations that drive positive social impact. Previous laureates of the award include the British Asian Trust’s Quality Education India Development Impact Bond and a host of other pioneering collaborations such as the Life Skills Collaborative in India, the Community Housing Movement in Hong Kong, and the Youth Co:Lab initiative in Asia Pacific, to name a few.