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The Development Impact Bond Working Group convened by CGD and Social Finance UK recently launched its final report, Investing in Social Outcomes: Development Impact Bonds, which has been well received by the diverse groups of actors who could make DIBs happen, including donor agencies, impact investors, foundations, and civil society organizations. 

Zia Khan, Vice President for Strategy and Evaluation at the Rockefeller Foundation, on why the Rockefeller Foundation is interested in DIBs

This press release provides a great summary of the launch event hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, including highlights from the event speakers – Zia Khan, VP at Rockefeller; Luther Ragin, head of the Global Impact Investing Network; and Toby Eccles and Owen Barder, two of the Working Group co-chairs. (The full event video is available here.)

One of the key points that emerged during the launch event is that DIBs fit into a landscape of development finance that is inevitably changing; as Zia said, DIBs have potential as the “next evolution of innovative finance to meet development goals.”  The increasing role of private investment and philanthropy in developing countries provides enormous opportunities for DIBs to leverage the best that both partners have to offer.

Following the launch event, CGD hosted a roundtable which gave development experts an opportunity to narrow the discussion down to some of the specific challenges and opportunities in implementing DIBs. DIBs do present many advantages; for example, participants referred to a “data-driven model of adaptation” and “incentives for better management”. But at the same time DIBs present lots of challenges and questions – for example is the quality of data sufficient to get investors on board with an outcomes-based approach, and when is the right time to be talking about this approach to scale?

There will certainly be challenges associated with trying something new, but the consensus has been clear that DIBs are worth testing. At these recent events, we heard from representatives of Social Finance, Instiglio, and Total Impact Advisors, who are among the organizations thinking about what a DIB market would look like and designing proposed pilot projects on the ground.  We’ve heard from several representatives of the investor community who are drawn to the idea of combining social and financial returns, and from the donor community who welcome the opportunity for DIBs to help them use limited funds more effectively. Foundations have also expressed interest and can have a catalytic role as the Working Group recommends. Now it’s time to walk the talk and move DIBs from being a “good idea” to tangible projects from which we can start to learn.

Disclaimer

CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.