Soon within 48-hours after US government agency OPIC has announced that it is looking to back late-stage Indian startups, an another not-for-profit and impact financing platform, Social Finance, has announced today the launch of two funds of US$1 billion each for India (collective value of both funds US$2 billion).

Formed in 2007, Social Finance Ltd. is a not for profit organisation that partners with the government, the social sector and the financial community to find better ways of tackling social problems globally. It works with government, investors and delivery partners to develop new models of social change.

The purpose of the first India-focused fund, India Education Outcomes Fund (IEOF) is to bring funds on scale to the best education service providers, with a sharp focus on improving learning and skilling outcomes. The second fund, the India Impact Fund will catalyse debt for impact in housing, health and education.

These funds were officially launched at the Annual summit of the Global Steering Group on Impact in New Delhi, by Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman, Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, in the presence of an array of luminaries including Former US Vice President Al Gore, Prince Maximillian of Lichtenstein and Former Tata Chairman, Mr. Ratan Tata.

This event also marked the official launch of Social Finance India, which, with these funds will be poised to become a major force in the impact finance space. Social Finance India, will be headed by Mr. Govind Sankaranarayanan, who held critical leadership positions at the Tata Group for over two decades, and until very recently was the COO of NBFC giant, Tata Capital.

The Board of Social Finance India includes several financial sector veterans, Dr. Rajiv Lall, Founder MD & CEO of IDFC Bank, Mr. Ashish Dhawan, Founder of PE firm Chrysalis Capital and Ashoka University and Mr. Vikram Gandhi, Former Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse and Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School. Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, Chief Representative of the United Nations in India has recently joined as a member of the Advisory Board.

The Tata Trusts and Omidyar Network, two of the leading names in the philanthropic world have backed Social Finance India. To recall, Omidyar India partner and managing director Roopa Kudva had recently announced to invest about US$ 250 million in Indian startup ventures and organizations over the next four-to-five years.

Details of the funds:

India Education Outcomes Fund (IEOF):

The India Education Outcomes Fund (IEOF) is a unique outcome fund structure where a corpus of US$1 billion will focus on improving the quality of education in India and set up 'pay-for success' contracts with pre-determined metrics.

Some of the key target outcomes for IEOF include:

  • Improving learning outcomes and numeracy for children in grades 1-3, studying in Government and affordable private primary schools

  • Technology aided interventions to improve learning outcomes in subjects such as mathematics for children in grades 6-10 (upper-primary and secondary sections),

  • Improving completion rate of girls till class 10 in Government and affordable private school

India Impact Fund (IIF):

IIF is intended to be a USD 1 billion pool of funds which will catalyse debt to Impact Enterprises. It will help bridge the large funding gaps in meeting the UN Sustainable Development goals. The first Fund within the umbrella IIFF, will target equity funding for small lenders in the priority sectors as outlined in the PSL (Priority Sector Lending) - Agriculture, MSME, Education, Housing, Social Infrastructure, Renewable Energy. UN SDG Impact Finance group will partner with Social Finance for impact measurement. Subsequent funds under the IIFF umbrella will be designed to support the Indian Government's National priorities of 'Make in India', 'Skill India', 'Swachh Bharat', 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana' and 'Digital India'.

Notably, besides UK as its origin country, Social Finance already has sister organisations in the US, Israel, Netherlands, and now India will be fifth member country of its global network.

Dr. Rajiv Lall, Chairman Social Finance India said, "We are delighted to have Govind Sankaranarayanan, as the CEO of Social Finance India. Govind, who has led large complex organisations in the financial services space, is the perfect leader for being an institution that will use the power of finance to amplify social impact.

Speaking about the launch, Mr. Govind Sankaranarayanan, Managing Director of Social Finance India said, "It is a great privilege to be a part of this global organisation, and take forward Sir Ronald Cohen's vision of using finance as an agent for good. India is ground zero for meeting the challenges of the UN SDG goals and Social Finance India will catalyse different types of innovative financial instruments and financial intermediaries to help bridge funding gaps across a range of sectors. An important part of this effort will be the sharpening of our focus on outcomes and improving the sophistication of impact measurement."

[Top Image - Photo by Jonathan Brinkhorst on Unsplash]

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