This month the British Asian Trust joined the largest gathering of social impact investors in Asia. The AVPN Conference, now in its sixth year, took place in Singapore, bringing together over 1,000 funders, investors and implementors from 50 countries to discuss the most burning topics in Asian venture philanthropy.
Through the week, the sessions and speakers at the Conference reflected a change of focus in the sector. Having spent years innovating at the implementation level, the development sector is now looking at how innovation can take place in funding mechanisms. The answer, which was the thread joining the diverse range of topics and themes throughout the week, is collaboration.
Funding collaboratively and working in partnership is key to achieving greater impact. Development cannot happen in isolation, and collaboration needs to take place at multiple levels, including funding and financing, design and implementation.
To explore this crucial topic, British Asian Trust’s Chief Executive, Richard Hawkes, led a session on Innovation in Collaborative Finance, together with experts from Credit Suisse, EdelGive Foundation, Dasra and Nishith Desai Associates. Discussing collaborative funding models, with a focus on sustaining social impact and scaling innovations that work, it examined giving circles, collective impact and innovative financing.
Together with UBS Optimus Foundation, our Innovative Finance Advisor, Aditi Banerjee, ran a session on Pay-For-Success (PFS) Models, and how they could lead to better philanthropic and policy outcomes. The enormous interest generated by the topic was demonstrated by the attendance at the session: despite having a slot on the last day of the conference, disappointed attendees had to be turned away at the door.
The funding model has caught the interest of policymakers and funding communities in Asia, and the session explored how the PFS can be adapted for use in the Asian context, demystifying financial instruments, outlining key success factors and which pitfalls to watch out for.
Innovative models of financing development have been on the rise in the sector. Having previously focused on inputs, grant giving is now starting to track outcomes against each dollar going into the sector – thereby changing incentives on the ground. Implementation partners/NGOs can now focus on delivering results/achieving true impact and funders can pay against those, with risk investors (previously not a part of the development sector) providing upfront working capital to enable delivery of results on the ground – linking their return on investments to achievement of pre-defined outcomes.
Within the current climate we are very excited that the British Asian Trust has embarked on this exciting journey, with the upcoming launch of its first $10 million Education Development Impact Bond in India, meant to impact quality of learning for 300,000 primary school children.