Global social innovation round-up #40

Kiwis launch first social (impact) bond

The New Zealand government has announced its first stab at a social impact bond (although interestingly, the ‘impact’ bit has been omitted in the title). 

$1.5m is being put up by four investors to finance initiatives by APM Workcare, an employment and social care organisation. The aim is to get 1,700 people in South Auckland with mental health conditions into work over the next five years.

Returns for the investors will be tied to the percentage of people that achieve employment and the duration of that employment – the longer they are in work the more the New Zealand government will pay. Apart from APM, the other three investors are a philanthropist, a pharmaceutical company and an investment banking firm.

The finance minister Steven Joyce said: "It is a different way of doing things but it has the potential to achieve some very good results and this is a group we have struggled to achieve with, going back decades. It has been a problem for a very long time."

New Zealand has its own social bonds minister, Amy Adams, in the Cabinet.


Victoria unveils first state-wide social enterprise strategy in Australia

Still down under, the state of Victoria in Australia unveiled its own version of the Social Value Act last week when it announced a social procurement framework that will encourage government departments to contract social enterprises. The initiative came as part of a state-wide social enterprise strategy.

The Victorian government said it was launching the strategy “to lead the country in driving employment participation and inclusive economic growth through social enterprise”. 

Interestingly, in the 19-page document explaining the strategy, Victoria cited social enterprise in Scotland as an inspiration for its own plans. We’ve heard of social enterprise strategies for cities and even countries before, but never for states. Do let us know if you’ve heard of any others.


UK schools go crowdfunding for equipment

We had to give a mention to one social innovation in our own backyard. The One Mile Project is a way for schools to crowdfund the equipment they need. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that spending per pupil is likely to fall by around 8% over the next five years. This is in part due to a rise in pupil numbers. The BBC has already run a report on schools falling into debt.

The crowdfunding platform is called Rocket Fund and is part inspired by a similar model in the US called Donors Choose, which has raised $500m for 800,000 projects in schools in the last 15 years. A happy side effect of crowdfunding is building engagement with communities around schools. 

Rocket Fund was created by the social innovation foundation Nesta. The foundation found, among other things, that infrastructure problems, such as a lack of devices or wifi in schools was preventing them from advancing learning. The name of the One Mile Project comes from the partnership between Edspace (a co-working space dedicated to transforming education) and Nesta, coming together to launch the project in the London borough of Hackney (also home to Pioneers Post). It is hoped that the 61 schools in a one-mile radius around Edspace will benefit from the scheme.

Photo credit: Luca Bravo