Impact project/investment of the year - Education: Argentina's first social impact bond

Channels: IMPACT

Companies: Interamerican Development Bank, Social Finance UK, Acrux Partners, Beccar Varela

The Social Impact Bond (SIB) issued by the local government of Buenos Aires in 2019 was developed to fund a pilot project to help 1,000 vulnerable young adults aged between 17 and 24 in their search for employment.

With youth unemployment high in the country – estimated in 2019 at 25% of people aged 15-24 – the SIB funded a tailor-made project designed to address the needs of each participant, strengthening their technical and social skills, mentoring them through their job search and entry to work process, and providing ongoing support for six months following employment.

The SIB was a joint venture between the city of Buenos Aires, the Interamerican Development Bank, not-for-profit consultancy Social Finance UK, impact advisory Acrux Partners and law firm Beccar Varela. The structure allowed the Argentine state to transfer the financial risk of the project to investors, the government only repaying if the project meets its social impact goals.

At the mid-point in December – despite the worsening economic situation in the country – an expert committee revealed the success rate for the SIB was 18% compared to 14% by government-run equivalent projects operated in 2018.

The initial success of the inaugural SIB in Argentina has led to further bonds being planned in the country, including one looking to bolster teacher capacity in rural areas.