A handful of thoughts on innovative finance…

By Justine Joseph and François Bonnici

Issue number 5 of Inside|Out focuses on new ways of financing social impact. These new ways – including impact bonds, impact investing, venture philanthropy and others – bring together various stakeholders who invest their money, thought, mediation or time into proven projects that deliver financial and social returns. We call this innovative finance. It’s a powerful way to catalyse change.


Bertha Centre builds the impact bond market

For about 18 months, the Bertha Centre For Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Cape Town has been working towards the implementation of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) in South Africa. It’s a big job and significant strides have been taken. Particularly this August, during a series of workshops presented by Tim Pearse from the Centre for Social Impact Bonds in the UK Cabinet Office in conjunction with the Bertha Centre and various national stakeholders.

“The National Treasury has now confirmed that SIBs fall within the current regulatory framework and both national and provincial government have expressed an interest in developing an Innovation Fund from which SIBs can be commissioned,” says the Bertha Centre’s Innovative Finance Programme Coordinator, Susan de Witt.

This is great news for South African social impact practitioners and for the future of impact in South Africa as a whole. “There have been various financial commitments made by Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) around the world regarding outcomes- based financing models,” says de Witt. “At our recent DFI event in Pretoria, hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), those around the table were interested in hearing how SIBs are enabling the process.”

The 100 service providers in attendance were also eager to learn whether their organisations were suitable candidates for SIB funding. They were excited by the prospect of aligning public and private sector interests. The results of these events have set the Bertha Centre up for some far-reaching SIB-building work. The Centre’s other innovative financing work includes:

  • Research into impact investing
  • Stakeholder education, mediation and pilots of Impact Bonds in specific sectors
  • Policy work
  • Creating a social finance curriculum for the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business where the Bertha Centre is based
  • Building a research and knowledge-sharing platform on Impact Bonds in the local context.

Read more about these and other impactful actions in the pages that follow. New and powerful ways to catalyse change.

Inside | Justine Joseph and François Bonnici

Justine_JosephShe’s a scientist by training, but editor of Inside|Out by profession. She has a Bachelor of Science (Medical) Honours from the University of Cape Town and 10 years experience as a health and science journalist. She was a Mondi Magazine Award finalist and the international winner of the 2006 Novo Nordisk Media Prize for Excellence in Diabetes Writing. In 2011 she co-authored The Story of the Fly and How it Could Save the World with enviro-entrepreneur Jason Drew. She’s contributed to various publications including Shape, Men’s Health, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, The Oprah Magazine, Discovery and Hip2B2.



Francois Bonnici is the editorial director of Inside | Out and the co-founder and director of Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town. He originally trained as a medical doctor, graduating top of his class. He then read for a Masters in Public Health (London) and an MBA on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford’s Said Business School, where he received the prize for the best overall MBA student. He has a Masters in Global Leadership conferred by the World Economic Forum and is the Head of Africa for the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.



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