Can a UN social impact fund spark further reform at the organization?
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
A new fund to boost smart affordable housing options in Bangladesh is one of the first major announcements from the UNDP’s SDG Impact Finance initiative — an enterprise that took UNDP’s David Galipeau four years to convince the U.N. it needed.
On the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.N. Development Programme chief Achim Steiner and Bangladesh Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina together unveiled an impact fund that aims to raise $100 million from private investors willing to back housing and other ventures in the country.
The larger initiative that will house the Bangladesh fund can be traced back farther — to a 2013 conversation between Galipeau, now the chief impact officer for U.N. Social Impact Fund, and his hedge fund manager friend, who was looking for higher risk investment opportunities at the time. The talk turned to social enterprises, “and I said the U.N. should create a [venture capital] fund to start investing in these enterprises itself,” Galipeau told Devex. “Everyone laughed at me.”
Photo courtesy of Sundaramoorthy Thimmarayan.