A priority for me – alongside meeting the key people who work so closely with girls, their families and communities – was to gather thoughts and learnings from our current DIB model. This enables me and my team to consider how we can make it a better investment concept to attract a new form of investor to development, as well as encouraging implementers to focus on improving performance.
What stands out from the visit is the immense energy of the Team Balika volunteers to encourage girls enrolment and improve the learning levels. The finance instrument is a tool with great potential to unlock this energy for change.
Being in Bhilwara made it clear to me that since villages and communities are diverse in their culture, economic situation and needs, a fixed “one-size fits all” approach is unlikely to create change at scale. That is why this change requires a financial tool that incentivises outcomes and encourages flexibility in order refine and improve the delivery model to ensure success.
The importance of performance
One of the main points of contention with impact investments lies in the requirement to demonstrate measureable impact. Many hold that establishing these metrics is too subjective and instead just creates additional work that prevents implementers from focusing on the social change they’re trying to bring about. What’s clear from this DIB is how powerful that measurement focus can be when the DIB approach pushes measurement data to become performance analysis.
I saw performance tracking in action, thanks to the help of technology. Educate Girls teamed up with Mumbai-based Lionbridge Technologies to develop an app that helps field staff record, and have access to, real-time data on school enrolment and learning outcomes.
Armed with smartphones provided by Educate Girls, field officers in seven program districts are using the app to record and access real-time data. This data provides EG with the information necessary to affect prompt course correction where necessary and best allocate resources to the areas most in need.