Aligned together for results

We had a chance to sit down with Safeena. She heads an Indian NGO dedicated to quality education and getting girls enrolled in school.

by Dhun Davar, Program Director for child education at UBS Optimus Foundation 18 Jul 2019

We had a chance to sit down with Safeena. She heads an Indian NGO dedicated to quality education and getting girls enrolled in school. She emphasized how that success was the result of working together with diverse partners who were all focused on the same powerful education outcomes for Indian children.

“Collaboration is really at the heart of the DIB. All of us were aligned around clearly articulated results: get the maximum number of girls in school, help them stay in school and improve learning for all children. We all had different roles to play to optimize these outcomes.

UBS Optimus Foundation was a great partner. It provided the capital but gave us a lot of flexibility. Both UBS Optimus Foundation and CIFF let the front line innovate. Their attitude was, ‘You’re closer to the ground, so you know best what needs to be done.’ I really think this approach led to the high impact we achieved.

UBS Optimus Foundation also enabled Instiglio to build our performance management system, which has now been institutionalized across Educate Girls. Having Instiglio monitor the performance was invaluable. As an NGO, we don’t have those skills in house. By helping us think about performance –

the drivers, the obstacles, the key indicators – we were able to apply those insights and course-correct to get real impact.

Funding through a DIB enabled high impact for two reasons. First, it had a razor-sharp focus on the results with very clear targets. A lot of grants are focused on activities (i.e. actions to meet objectives) or inputs (e.g. money, technical expertise, relationships or personnel), but the DIB’s focus on impact really propelled us to do our best. Second, having flexible, multi-year funding untied to any particular activities meant we could deploy the money in any way we saw fit in service of reaching the results.

The DIB really helped us to sharpen our results-based program. And it gave us confidence we can deliver quality and scale. Some of the lessons we learned from the DIB – about the culture of adaptability, problem solving, accountability to the last child – we’ll now be scaling over the coming five years to reach 16 million children in rural, remote and tribal areas in India by 2024. And as with the DIB, we won’t be doing it alone.”

Safeena Husain
Founder and Executive Director of Educate Girls

How doing good was measured

The DIB was intended to be a small-scale “proof of concept”. Rajasthan was chosen for the DIB because of its particularly poor school access for girls: nine out of 26 districts in the state have the worst gender gap in India for girls’ education. Only 50% of women can read or write, and 40% of girls leave school before they reach grade 5.

Third parties provided independent evaluation of program outcomes. Instiglio, a non-profit impact bond and results-based financing intermediary provided performance management help to Educate Girls on behalf of UBSOF. And ID Insight, a non-profit evaluation firm assessed the improvement in learning and validated the number of out of school girls enrolled.

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