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13 Jul 2018

Educate Girls Development Impact Bond delivers impressive results, surpassing both target outcomes

The world's first-ever Development Impact Bond (DIB) in education provided operational and financial flexibility for Indian NGO Educate Girls to exceed ambitious targets under the three-year programme. The results show that 92% of all out-of-school girls identified in the programme area in the Indian state of Rajasthan were enrolled in school, while the difference in learning gains between Educate Girls students and others quadrupled compared to year one.

The world’s first operational DIB achieved 116% of the enrolment target and 160% of the learning target in its final year. These are impressive results, particularly considering students’ progress on learning was still lagging behind after the first two years of the programme. The model has led to a raft of innovations: at the heart of it, an improved child-centric curriculum enabling Educate Girls to quadruple the difference in learning gains between those participating and non-programme students compared to year one. Educate Girls also focused on improving the outreach for harder-to-enrol girls by influencing communities’ mindsets toward education.

The DIB measured progress against agreed targets for the number of out-of-school girls enrolled into primary and upper primary schools as well as the progress of girls and boys in English, Hindi and Math. Educate Girls tailored its approach using a performance-management system, while IDinsight, a non-profit evaluation firm, compared results to those of similar schools in the control group, enabling course corrections. Compared to traditional grant-making approaches, this contractually agreed payment-by-results model allowed Educate Girls to innovate and ultimately to achieve a greater impact.

The model is backed by a strong partnership: The UBS Optimus Foundation, which provided the upfront working capital of USD 270,000, recouped its initial funding plus 15% return from the outcome payer the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). Educate Girls will receive part of the return as a bonus payment, while the rest will be used for other UBS Optimus Foundation programmes. The partnership also involved Instiglio, a non-profit, results-based financing advisory organisation, which was the technical advisor in the design, providing overall project management and intermediation, while IDinsight conducted a rigorous randomised evaluation to assess students’ learning gains.

The DIB was intended to be a ‘proof of concept’ using a relatively small selection of beneficiaries. Its ultimate goal was to test the feasibility of the DIB overall and improve education for about 7,300 children, across 166 schools and 140 villages.

Kate Hampton, CEO of CIFF, said:

‘The DIB is a new financing tool that can be used to support and scale innovative local solutions with demonstrable results. CIFF is proud to have partnered with Educate Girls and the UBS Optimus Foundation to deliver an independently verified, real-world impact: getting girls into school and helping them learn. We hope others will build on this learning with further innovations and ambition.’

Safeena Husain, Executive Director of Educate Girls, said:

‘It’s been a journey of self-discovery for Educate Girls. The funding enabled us to innovate and apply tailored solutions to enrol the hardest to reach girls in school and significantly improve the learning levels of a large number of marginalized first-generation learners. The final results are a testimony to our efforts and give us the confidence that Educate Girls can deliver quality at scale and value to every single child in the programme.’

Phyllis Costanza, CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation, said:

‘We must challenge, innovate and create if we are to truly reframe the future for thousands of girls across India. The launch of the DIB demonstrates how we are turning those words into action. It is proving an increasingly attractive approach as people recognize the DIB’s ability to secure new and much needed funding and deliver significant and sustainable social returns.’

Following this successful demonstration of the value of the DIB approach and incorporating the many lessons from this experience, the UBS Optimus Foundation is working on a new education DIB, which will be announced later this year.

For more information visit: https://instiglio.org/educategirlsdib/