“My education is the only thing that's mine. Nobody can rob it. No flood can wash it away. No fire can burn it. It's mine and it will be mine forever.” Educate Girls volunteer - Rajastan, India.
For every year that a girl attends school she, by implication, doesn't get married, doesn't have children, nor die in childbirth due to her very young age, and as if that isn't enough, her household income increases by ten to fifteen percent.
Sadly India has the highest rate of out-of-school girls in the world. The number of child brides and sexual or other forms of female slavery is amongst the highest on the planet. It is clear that India is the epicentre of gender discrimination and inequity, says Safeena Husain, Executive Director of Educate Girls.
Educate Girls is a non-profit organisation working in remote tribal areas in India, where massive gender gaps are the norm and girl-child education is believed far less important than raising goats. Safeena has made it her life’s mission to reverse these truths and create a new reality where girls stay in school and, most importantly, where they learn. She has commandeered an army of 8000 passionate, educated young female volunteers to execute this mammoth task.
Having grown the project from 50 to 12,500 schools, with a goal of reaching four million children a year, Safeena was starting to feel limited by the amount of philanthropic capital available for such an enormous venture. The time had come to move from input financing to outcomes-based backing and Educate Girls is now running off a unique and ground-breaking funding model: a Development Impact Bond (DIB) implemented in collaboration with UBS Optimus Foundation and CIFF (the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation).
There are three core partners involved in a DIB. Firstly the service provider, such as Educate Girls, who does the implementing work on the ground according to rigorously measured, pre-determined outcomes. Secondly, there is a socially-motivated investor, in this case the UBS Optimus Foundation, who provides the working capital. And finally, there is the outcomes payer, in this case CIFF, who commits to repaying the investor's original amount, plus additional returns, provided the agreed outcomes are achieved and the targets are met.
The DIB sits at the junction of a growing interest in innovative financing methods; encouraging investment in social impact over a broad range of sectors, and delivering solid financial returns for doing so.
In this instance, investing in education ensures a much more equal world for children, and has the capacity to create many more powerful women like Safeena, producing even further significant change.