Bridging the financing gap

Social finance: Outcomes-based funding

At the UBS Optimus Foundation we take the same business-minded approach to philanthropy that UBS takes in all aspects of our work at the firm, so that clients can be sure their contribution delivers the social and environmental return they should be getting from their contribution.
Today, only ten years remain to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), identified by the United Nations. Progress is stalling and current levels of funding are considered insufficient, it’s crucial that we continue to address issues like climate change, access to health care and better education. We need to create a greener and healthier world for everyone, but there is still a lot to do. Social finance is a purpose-driven approach to investment that focuses explicitly on generating measurable social impact, alongside a financial return.


Bridging the gap between impact investors and social impact opportunities

We know philanthropists care deeply about the world's issues and have been working diligently to address them. But the current level of funding raised through traditional sources such as grants and donations won't be enough to meet the SDGs. Meeting the Global Goals will require an additional USD 2.5 trillion a year on social interventions including, health and education. And a further USD 13.5 trillion is needed by 2030 to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.1 To be successful we need more capital to reach more people. And we need every dollar to be spent in a way that maximizes impact. One way to close this annual funding gap of USD 2.5 trillion is to look at private capital.

Achieving the SDGs by 2030 will require mobilizing an additional USD 2,5 trillion per year.2

While this is a huge funding gap, it represents less than 2 percent of total private wealth.3

There is a USD 134 billion annual investment gap for the health SDG in lower and middle- income countries.4

Funding for education needs to increase 6x to fill the investment gap of USD 39 billion / y to achieve quality education for all by 2030.5

Philanthropy and the public sector play important roles, but will not be enough to cover this substantial financing gap.


Achieving impact with a threefold approach

In bringing much needed financial expertise to the philanthropic space, we support programs that incentivize partners to achieve social and environmental results without distorting functioning markets. The funds returned to UBS Optimus Foundation from our investments, are kept by the Foundation and reinvested into further impactful programs. As part of our work, we focus on:

Building an ecosystem

Building a social finance ecosystem, providing grants and seed funding to pilot, test and prove that impact-first programs can deliver results.

Scaling programs

Supporting both market-driven entrepreneurial solutions and non-profit initiatives as well as hybrid structures that generate measurable social results and have a viable path to financial sustainability. The investments can be debt- and/or equity-based and include convertible elements.

Attracting private investment

Supporting programs where we can leverage our philanthropic funding to attract private investment – through UBS – and achieve funding at scale.
An example of this are blended finance funds where the foundation’s philanthropic funding takes a higher risk portion of an investment.

DIBs are one example of programs where payments are directly linked to outcomes achieved:

  • the investor funds the program intervention
  • the intervention is measured against predetermined metrics which are independently verified
  • if the intervention succeeds in achieving its goals, the outcome payer will pay the investor based on the results 
  • any return that is then reinvested into further impactful development programs
  • as an incentive, a portion of the outcome payment may be passed on to the NGO

Impact loans are given to social enterprises in low-income settings, with a strong promise of or an already established revenue stream. Impact loans align the shared interest UBS Optimus Foundation and social enterprises have in achieving impact:

  • the social enterprise gains access to capital
  • a variable interest rate rewards the social enterprise with lower interest rates upon achieving social impact
  • UBS Optimus Foundation as investor, achieves social impact balanced with financial return

How we mobilize social finance for greater impact

In 2015, we launched the world’s first DIB in education, which exceeded its targets of boosting schooling for child learners in rural India. It was the impetus for our new and largest education DIB to date, which we launched in 2018. In 2017, we also launched the world’s first DIB in maternal and child health.