A recent article in the Harvard Business Review on new approaches to funding social enterprises cites IFMR Capital’s work in securitisation and structured finance of microfinance loan portfolios. The article explores how unbundling societal benefits and financial returns can dramatically increase investment.
The authors argue that financial engineering can be a powerful force for change. It can permit the mobilization of more capital for investment than would otherwise be available. It can generate rich opportunities to fund projects that fuel economic growth and improve people’s lives. The article also mentions that the ability of social enterprises to provide their products and services rises or falls with the availability of capital and that the lack of funding opportunities is one of the major disadvantages social enterprises face. The article offers the insight that the funding of a social enterprise can be treated as a problem of financial structuring: the enterprise can offer different risks and returns to different kinds of investors instead of delivering a blended return that holds for all investors but is acceptable to very few.
This new approach to structuring can close the financial-social return gap. The article goes on to discuss the various types of financing-innovation in practice such as loan-guarantees, quasi-equity debt, pooling and social-impact bonds. In the context of techniques that involve pooling and creating tranches, the article mentions IFMR Capital’s work in securitising microfinance loan portfolios in which an investment share is retained by IFMR Capital. The article also reviews the lessons the financial crisis has taught us, most importantly, the importance of standards and ratings and the need for transparency.
The authors conclude by stating that the challenges involved in creating fully functioning capital markets and legal frameworks to serve social enterprises cannot be underestimated and that some innovations may not be suitable for all organisations. However, with the right market infrastructure and legal framework in place, enormous amounts of private capital could be mobilised for social enterprises.
To read the complete article, click here.