Tuesday, October 5

Digital Philanthropy Week – Day 2

Join us for our second session as we discuss the emergence of social finance instruments in the philanthropy space, and look at two pioneering examples in the health and education sphere. 


In good company: Aligning stakeholder interests for development with social finance

Philanthropists worldwide seek to deploy capital in an impactful way to end poverty, promote prosperity and protect the planet. While it is crucial to attract more capital to address these social and environmental issues, this paper is for those who want to understand how they can deploy it in the most effective way possible.

Today’s session on Innovative philanthropy and outcomes-based funding will explore the unique opportunity of combining financial sophistication and knowhow with good intentions. Because if we really want to achieve development goals that are measurable and scalable, we need to harness the power of the private sector. And social and blended finance are key to getting us there. Join Phyllis Kurlander Costanza, Head of Social Impact and CEO, UBS Optimus Foundation for a conversation with Safeena Husain, Founder and Executive Director, Educate Girls, and Priya Sharma, Managing Director, Scalable Innovation, Private Sector Engagement Hub, USAID.

Interested in learning more about Social Finance? Contact us to receive an invitation for our next webinar on student loan financing and income-share agreements.

Phyllis Kurlander Costanza

Head of Social Impact and CEO, UBS Optimus Foundation

Phyllis Kurlander Costanza is Head of Social Impact and CEO UBS Optimus Foundation. She is committed to making UBS a force for driving positive change in society and the environment for future generations. As part of the Sustainability and Impact group, Phyllis oversees client and community philanthropy globally, the UBS Optimus Foundation and social finance.

Phyllis is also dedicated to finding innovative ways to use finance to tackle some of the world's most pressing social and environmental issues. In her role as CEO UBS Optimus Foundation, she applies an investment-based approach, making it simpler for clients and their families to manage their philanthropy and maximize their impact. Since starting at UBS in 2011 she's been instrumental in reshaping the UBS Optimus Foundation's strategy.

Prior to UBS, Phyllis was a senior executive and board member of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). She also has more than a decade of experience as a management consultant and has worked in the public sector for New York State Governor Mario Cuomo.

Phyllis is a member of the USA Charity Board of Directors of Educate Girls, board member of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), board member of the Blue Earth Foundation, Feusisberg and a board member at UBS Optimus Foundation UK. She is also a senior advisor to the Education Outcomes Fund for Africa and the Middle East, member of the Harvard University Women’s Leadership Board, and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Phyllis holds a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Safeena Husain

Founder and Executive Director, Educate Girls

Safeena Husain is the Founder and Executive Director of Educate Girls (EG), an Indian non-profit working towards empowering communities for girls’ education in some of the hardest-to-reach villages. Under Safeena’s guidance, EG has enrolled 950,000+ girls to date, impacting over 11.5 million+ beneficiaries.

Most recently, when the global pandemic hit India in 2020, EG under Safeena’s leadership distributed ration to 106,778 poverty-struck households in rural India. To combat the impact of Covid19 on children’s education, especially girls, EG started Camp Vidya – a community-based learning initiative. Piloted by Safeena, 11,165 camps were completed, improving learning outcomes for children. Currently, with the second-wave creating a massive loss of livelihood in India, EG has restarted its Covid Relief Initiative which aims to distribute ration and hygiene kits to 115,000+ households, while running awareness campaigns and amplifying the use of government learning applications.

A London School of Economics graduate, Safeena worked extensively with underserved communities in South America, Africa and Asia, before returning to India. Her efforts to bridge the gender gap in education in India has been instrumental in EG achieving a major global milestone – the world’s first Development Impact Bond in education. On its completion, the bond surpassed both its target outcomes by achieving 160% of its learning target and 116% of its enrolment target. These results are testimony to the commitment of EG to deliver quality at scale (the organization currently has 2,226 full time employees and 15,000+ community volunteers) and value to every single child in the program. She has also been instrumental in EG becoming the first Audacious project in Asia, a first-of-its-kind coalition that surfaces and funds critical projects with the potential to create global change.

In 2020, EG’s solution to empower 1.5M girls to go to school was selected at MIT Solve’s Learning for Girls & Women Challenge and EG also became one of world’s 100 most inspiring innovations in K12 education. Safeena has been conferred with many accolades for her work at grassroots which includes the 2017 NITI Aayog’s Women Transforming India Award, the 2016 NDTV-L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Award.

Priya Sharma

Managing Director, Scalable Innovation, Private Sector Engagement Hub, USAID 

Priya Sharma is the Acting Managing Director of Scalable Innovations in the Private Sector Engagement Hub at USAID. In her current role, Priya provides support and assistance to USAID Missions and Operating Units interested in developing and testing innovative tools and approaches to engaging with the private sector. Priya previously worked as the Senior Policy and Innovative Financing Advisor in the Global Health Bureau’s Center for Innovation and Impact where she managed USAID’s first global health development impact bond, and co-authored a number of resources including Investing for Impact and Greater than the Sum of its Parts: Blended Finance Roadmap for Global Health. These resources are intended for development practitioners interested in learning more about blended and innovative financing in global health.

Priya received her MSc in International Health Policy (with Health Economics) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and she completed her undergraduate studies at Tufts University.