58 of financial performance—for example, are we getting repaid or are projected returns being met. Since much of our impact investment work has been in affordable housing or funding CDFIs, if we’re getting repaid those housing units are getting built or the CDFI is making good loans in accordance with its mission—so repayment for these types of investments is a good proxy for impact. Of course, measuring impact beyond the physical infrastructure being built or loan being made runs into the same measurement issues we have with our grants. But again, with investments, if we get repaid we have, more than likely, accomplished the impact we hoped to achieve going into the deal. Militzer: Relatedly,canyoushareanexampleofagrant that failed to make the impact you’d envisioned, and what you learned from the experience? White: It’s hard to pick a favorite failure, but there are lessons that we take away. We do try to push the envelope a little bit at times, so things don’t always work. And there are certainly some that haven’t worked as well as we would have hoped. Sometimes it’s a good idea and the group doesn’t execute—they couldn’t carry out the plan, they didn’t have the right staff or the knowledge of the market, or they just couldn’t deliver for a number of reasons. Nonprofits are fragile in a lot of ways. When we fund them, it’s often for a project that is just getting off the ground or a successful program they want to scale. So each project is a bit of a startup in some ways, and there’s a fair amount of risk. But the execution risk of the organization is something we’re concerned about and look at really closely. I don’t know if I’d call this a failure, but we don’t always capturethelearningsthatcomeoutofdifferentprojects— both the good and bad—and share that with the field. So to the extent that we don’t do that, that information just stays within our little network—that’s a concern. Also, since we’re working with organizations that are subject to market forces, whether they’re offering a product, or trying to develop a new channel or reach customers more effectively, the market sometimes just shifts for some reason, through no fault of their own (or because they didn’t see it coming). Sometimes things just don’t work out, due to the market or the regulatory environment or something like that—so the learnings are a bit harder there. Militzer: What do you see as the biggest challenge in getting financial products and services to low/middle- income people around the world? What gives you the most hope for expanding access? White: I think people don’t have access to the right financial services, and sometimes when they do have access, they don’t use them. So there’s a lot of work being done on access, and obviously mobile phones are helping in that area. But while in developing markets it’s an access issue, here in the U.S., there’s a lot of financial inclusion, but people aren’t financially healthy. People have access here, but they aren’t always using financial services to manage their day-to-day financial lives, smoothing income, planning for the future, saving for unexpected issues, etc. So we are working on behavioral economics principles, to help people here in the States to use the products and services that are available, and we see some progress and hope there. Militzer: Finally, can you briefly summarize your vision for NextBillion Financial Health? How would you like to see the site evolve under the MetLife Foundation partnership? White: We’d like it to be a site where people can go to find out what’s working, and importantly, what’s not working. There needs to be an opportunity for both the good, and the not-so-good, to be discussed. And that’s incumbent upon funders and others in the field to make sure that’s shared. And I think NextBillion Financial Health should be a platform for sharing that, providing input, data, analysis and articles that ask the big question of what works, and how to get more people financially included, and financially healthy, to make long-term improvements in the quality of their lives and their futures. To the extent that some sites are advertisements for an organization or project, you may not get some of the frank analysis of those questions that you might want. So a third-party site that’s designed for that sort of exchange, I think, is a great thing. View the original article on NextBillion