Press Release: New Impact-linked Fund To Boost Inclusive And Equitable Education for Vulnerable Children And Youth in MENA and West Africa
Despite strong progress over the past decades, ensuring an inclusive, quality education (SDG 4) to vulnerable children and youth across the globe is far from reality. According to the UN, over 265 million children globally are currently out of school and 617 million lack minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics. The economic and social crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic aggravated this alarming gap, with the risk to further increase the already high financial disparities in the future.
Already before the pandemic, high-impact enterprises were important drivers of change, since they can contribute to bring education to scale, acknowledging that universal access to basic education must be free. Often, they identify unmet needs of students or teachers or lay open insufficient, low-quality services of existing providers. For example technology-enabled solutions, such as mobile-phone based learning or artificial intelligence assistance, have a great potential for reaching vulnerable and underserved groups such as rural youth or refugees.
“Over the years, we have seen high-impact enterprises and similar market-based social organizations struggle to tap into reliable and suitable finance. That is why Roots of Impact and iGravity have established the Impact-Linked Finance Fund (ILFF) as a platform to connect public and private sector investors and leverage resources and know-how to for the benefit of these important organizations, rewarding them directly with financial incentives for the impact they create”, explains Bjoern Struewer, Co-Chair of the ILFF and CEO of Roots of Impact.
The newest fund under the ILFF platform, the Impact-Linked Fund for Education, will identify eligible organizations with a particular focus on the MENA and Western Africa Region. By applying innovative finance solutions such as Social Impact Incentives (SIINC) and Impact-Linked Loans, these organizations will benefit from “better terms for better impact” and increase their chances to create educational impact at scale and help Providing Better Terms for Better Impact improve access to inclusive quality and affordable basic education for thousands of children and young people.
The open-ended fund just secured first closing commitments of CHF 6 million from Swiss-based Jacobs Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
“As a foundation dedicated to transforming learning and education around the world, we deploy financial capital to back evidence-based models that improve learning outcomes in different contexts. With this innovative partnership, we want to generate new evidence on what works in West Africa and MENA, unlock further capital for recipient organizations by lowering co-funding risks, and provide policy-makers with an efficacy-test on models that can be scaled by the state”, underlines Fabio Segura, Co-CEO of the Jacobs Foundation.
In addition to suitable capital for high-impact organizations, a substantial amount of the fund’s target volume will be reserved for technical assistance, research and advocacy measures, which will generate learnings and evidence of this innovative and promising approach. Sabina Handschin, Head Education Unit at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, clearly sees the potential of applying new ways to finance SDG 4: “SDC acknowledges that sustainable development can only be achieved by joining forces with all relevant stakeholders, including the private sector. Therefore, we are delighted about our partnership with private foundations like the Jacobs Foundation and the piloting of this new initiative. We see this as a great opportunity of funding innovative approaches to advance SDG 4 and close the global education gap.” The Impact-Linked Fund for Education plans the second closing in 2022.
Photo courtesy of Jhon Dal.