Book review : “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World” by Anand Giridharadas

When I decided to read Anand Giridharadas’s book “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World” I was looking for answers to my questions on changing the world through business. I finally ended up with even more questions! I read the book a second time, the list of questions kept getting longer, and many of my “mental models” were strongly challenged. Lastly, “Winners Take All” helped me conduct a deep introspection to reframe assumptions to make the world a better place. May be that was the author’s intention after all!

The book is an in-depth critique of many accepted “truths” today, such as:

  • The market is the most powerful vehicle for addressing the world’s problems;
  • The ideal market solutions blend social/environmental benefits and financial profits;
  • Technological innovation has the potential to solve most problems;
  • Governments and bureaucrats are obstacles for real change. Hence, solutions have to designed avoiding the public sector as much as possible.

The limits of changing the world within the “system” boundaries

 “Winners Take All” is a strong critique of rich elites self-appointed as leaders of social change.  The author argues that these elites, all in all, do more harm than good and contribute to or sustained the problems they are wanting to change.

Giridharadas claims that “elites believe and promote the idea that social change should be pursued principally through the free market and voluntary action, not public life and the law and the reform of the systems that people share in common; that it should be supervised by the winners of capitalism and their allies, and not be antagonistic to their needs; and that the biggest beneficiaries of the status quo should play a leading role in the status quo’s reform”.  As a result, rather than fundamentally questioning the rules of the game, looking at the big picture and shaking up the system, business saviors prefer focusing on impact investing, entrepreneurship, corporate sustainability, social responsibility, philanthropy and tech-driven solutions to save the world. According to the author, the do-gooders failure stems from the fact that they are “trying to solve the problem with the tools that caused it” in the first place without challenging mainstream assumptions, addressing systemic and questioning root problems because of conflicting interests. “Those who propose to solve problems in other ways—especially by looking at power and resources and other things unsettling to winners—are sidelined” Giridharadas says.

How to take it from there?

I feel that the book’s main recommendations are as follows:

  • Supporting and improving public institutions to be a central driver of change for the good of all.
  • Yes, it is good to make doing good easier but what is more effective is to make doing bad harder (through public institutions)
  • Real and sustainable solutions to our world’s problems require daring to ask “tough” questions and address root causes not the symptoms

Selected quotes from the book

“The only thing better than controlling money and power is to control the efforts to question the distribution of money and power. The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens.”

“There is no denying that today’s elite may be among the more socially concerned elites in history. But it is also, by the cold logic of numbers, among the more predatory in history.”

“For when elites assume leadership of social change, they are able to reshape what social change is — above all, to present it as something that should never threaten winners,”

“To fight inequality means to change the system. For a privileged person, it means to look into one’s own privilege”

“Inequality is built on antecedents—preexisting conditions ranging from ingrained prejudice and historical racial, gender, and ethnic biases to regressive tax policies that cumulatively define the systems and structures that enable inequality to fester.”

“Elite networking forums (…) groom the rich to be self-appointed leaders of social change, taking on the problems people like them have been instrumental in creating or sustaining.”

“More often, though, these elites start initiatives of their own, taking on social change as though it were just another stock in their portfolio or corporation to restructure. Because they are in charge of these attempts at social change, the attempts naturally reflect their biases.”

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it. —UPTON SINCLAIR”

“Stories promoted by MarketWorld that tell us that change is easy, is a win-win, and doesn’t require sacrifice.”

“Those who propose to solve problems in other ways—especially by looking at power and resources and other things unsettling to winners—are sidelined”

“MarketWorld had shown itself willing and able to engage in the arena of politics—to “change the system”—when it came to seeking lower taxes, freer trade, the repeal of laws like Glass-Steagall, debt reduction, scaled-back regulation (…). Yet the reversal of some of the very things it had fought for was deemed too hard, too political, too vast to take on.”

“Generosity is not a substitute for justice”

“Businesspersons calling themselves “leaders” and naming themselves solvers of the most intractable social problems represent a worrisome way of erasing their role in causing them.”

 “If you want to be a thought leader and not dismissed as a critic, your job is to help the public see problems as personal and individual dramas rather than collective and systemic ones.”

“It is hard to get a man to understand something he is being paid not to understand.”

Book review: Humankind a Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

After the success of his first bestseller Utopia for Realists, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman has just published his second book “Humankind: a hopeful history”.

The main idea in a nutshell

The book’s main thesis goes as follows: “Most people, deep down, are pretty decent” and if we want the best from people, we need to believe in their innate kindness and ability to organize themselves for the common good. Inversely, if we are looking for the worst in people, we are bound to find it even when it does not exist!

Why this is important? Because of self-fulfilling prophecy: If we assume that most people are selfish and cannot be trusted, then we will design our institutions based on that assumption, which will create exactly the kind of people that our human nature view assumed.

Rousseau vs Hobbes debate on human nature: and the winner is …

The author cites two basic ways of understanding human nature. On one hand, Thomas Hobbes, claiming that, left to their own devices, people will wage a “war of all against all”. Hence, they need the institutions of civilization to restrain their instincts. Hobbes’ view aligns with the veneer theory stating that human morality and kindness is just a thin layer over an otherwise nasty human nature. On the other hand Jean-Jacques Rousseau, stating “that man is naturally good, and that it is from these institutions alone that men become wicked”.

When we look at how schools, leisure centers, companies, prisons have been designed, it is clear that the Hobbesian view dominate (ie. our natural selfishness and aggression can only be contained by strict laws, rules and regulations). However, Bregman, which sides with Rousseau, says that scientific evidence suggests that Hobbes’s assumptions are flawed. Bregman’s solution is to leverage people’s innate kindness to rethink” the way we organize our lives and societies.

Bregman’s plethora of examples and anecdotes

The book is full of examples, research and case studies to support Bregman’s argument and to overturn many common preconceived ideas based on Hobbes view. Examples include:

  • Agora: The school with no classes, no classrooms and no curriculum.
  • Buurtzorg : The “best employer” and “Best marketing in health care” in Holland with no HR nor a marketing team!

Bregman’s 10 takeaways:

In the book’s epilogue, Bregman recommends 10 rules to live by :

  1. “When in doubt, assume the best.”
  2. “Think in win win scenarios”
  3. “Ask more questions”
  4. “Temper your empathy, train your compassion”
  5. “Try to understand the other, even if you don’t get where there are coming”
  6. “Love your owns as others love their own”
  7. “Avoid the news”
  8. “Come out of the closet : Don’t be ashamed to do good”
  9. “Be realistic”

Selected quotes from the book

  • “Crisis brought out not the worst but the best in people”
  • “Basically, (…) we are trained to see selfishness everywhere. See someone helping an elderly person cross the street? What a show-off”
  • “There is a persistent myth that by their very nature humans are selfish, aggressive and quick to panic”
  • “A drug we use daily, that’s heavily subsidized and is distributed to our children on a massive scale. That drug is the news”
  • “Poll among twelve thousand parents in ten countries revealed that prison inmates spend more time outdoors than most kids”
  • “The opposite of play is not work (…) the opposite of play is depression”
  • “Our biggest shortfall isn’t’ a bank account or budget sheet but inside ourselves. It is a shortage of what makes life meaningful. A shortage of play”

Waqf and Zakat: Missing opportunities in Maghreb countries

Despite the region’s economic potential, Maghreb countries have been struggling during the last decades with socio-economic issues including poverty, unemployment and raising inequalities. It seems clear that achieving sustainable goals with a “business as usual scenario” is very unlikely especially that COVID-19 pandemic worsened economic indicators and limited governments’ leeway for   economic recovery plans. Hence, the need to close the financing gap in order to address current social and economic issues, creates important opportunities for the Zakat and Waqf in the Maghreb region.

The Islamic Social Finance Report 2020 by the Islamic Research and Training Institute is a timely contribution as it sheds light on the potential of Islamic social finance instruments to mobilize funds to alleviate socio-economic challenges in the Maghreb region. In a nutshell, the main takeaway from the above-mentioned report is that instruments such as Waqf and Zakat have a huge potential to raise social funds. For instance, Zakat can mobilize, on average, 3% of the region’s GDP, which accounts to around US$10 billion annually! However, because of lack of supporting institutional environment and infrastructure, such much-needed resources are lost.

The good news is, there is a way out and here’s how:

  • First things first: A strong political will

In my opinion, this is definitely the more critical recommendations as all significant improvements depend on it. One example of the lack of political will is the absence of adequate supporting institutions and infrastructure for Waqf and Zakat sectors in most Maghreb countries. Furthermore, even when a dedicated legal and regulatory framework exists, as in the case of Waqf, the reality shows that these institutions are far for producing the expected impact.

  • Operational excellence and innovation

The existence of a dedicated of legal and regulatory framework is necessary but not sufficient. Implementing Islamic social finance instruments requires strong, independent and professional management organizations. Waqf and Zakat funds, for instance, should be at par with international best practices in terms of asset management, human resources management, marketing and technology. The case of Fintech illustrate this argument. Technologies such as crowdfunding, blockchain and mobile offer tremendous possibilities for the social sector. Yet, Waqf and Zakat institutions in Maghreb are still turning their back to these innovations. 

  • Restoring trust

Success of Zakat and Waqf institutions in Maghreb is contingent upon restoring confidence in such institutions. For instance, in countries with an official Zakat Fund (e.g. in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania), donors unfortunately distribute a large proportion of Zakat individually. In the social finance context, the importance of communication, transparency and accountability in alleviating trust-deficit vis-à-vis ordinary citizens can hardly be overemphasized.

  • Leveraging synergies with Islamic finance institutions

Both Waqf and Zakat institutions should foster synergies with Islamic financial institutions to develop innovative financial instruments. For example, Islamic financial institutions can, not only facilitate fund raising but also provide investment instruments and blended finance mechanisms. In addition, this synergy allows financial institutions to strengthen sustainable finance positioning.

This article was first published in Islamic Finance news Volume 17 Issue 28 dated the 15th July 2020.

Capital & Ideology (Thomas Picketty) : Book review

About the book :

French economist Thomas Piketty published Capital and Ideology in French (September 2019) and then in English (March 2020). The book is somewhat an updated and enriched version of Picketty’s great success, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013), which focused on wealth and income inequality only in Europe and the United States.

After exploring historical and contemporary justifications for inequality, Piketty outlines, in his new book, potential means of redistributing wealth.

Key insight #1 : Inequalities are never “natural”

Inequalities are never “natural”: any regime justifies them by an ideology and builds them by laws, taxation, organization of property, education system… The system of inequality that prevails in a given country is first of all the result of political and ideological choices

The central message of Picketty is that behind every inequality is a system of justification that ensures its perpetuation. However, there is no determinism: a bifurcation is possible, if the right political and ideological mobilization is there.

“Every human society must justify its inequalities: unless reasons for them are found, the whole political and social edifice stands in danger of collapse.” 

Key insight #2: Inequalities have been growing since the 1980s after entering in the post-communist and hyper-capitalist word

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the world has entered a new unequal regime, which the author describes as “neo-proprietarist”, reviving the sacralization of private property in force in the 19th century. This regime glorifies the “society of winners “and justifies the explosion of inequalities by the fact that the most talented people deserve to enrich themselves by reward for their exceptional productivity.

Interpretation. The share of the top decile (the 10% highest incomes) in total national income ranged between 26% and 34% in 1980 in the different parts of the world and from 34% and 56% in 2018. Inequality increased everywhere, but the size of the increase varies greatly from country to country, at all levels of development. For example it was greater in the United States than in Europe (enlarged EU, 540 millions inhabitants), and greater in India than in China.

Sources and series: see piketty.pse.ens.fr/ideology

Interpretation. In 2018, the share of the top decile (the 10% highest incomes) in national income was 34% in Europe (EU+), 41% in China, 46% in Russia, 48% in the United States, 54% in Subsaharan Africa, 55% in India, 56% in Brasil and 64% in the Middle East.

Sources and series: see piketty.pse.ens.fr/ideology

Interpretation. The bottom 50% incomes of the world saw substantial growth in purchasing power between 1980 and 2018 (between +60% and +120%). the top 1% incomes saw even stronger growth (between +80% and +240%). Intermediate categories grew less. In sum, inequality decreased between the bottom and the middle of the global income distribution, and increased between the middle and the top.

Sources and series: see piketty.pse.ens.fr/ideology

Interpretation. The share of the top decile (the top 10% highest incomes) in total national income was about 50% in Western Europe in 1900-1910, before decreasing to about 30% in 1950-1980, then rising again to more than 35% in 2010-2020. Inequality grew much more strongly in the United States, where the top decile share approached 50% in 2010-2020, exceeding the level of 1900-1910. Japan was in an intermediate position.

Sources and series: see piketty.pse.ens.fr/ideology

Interpretation. The top marginal tax rate applied to the highest incomes averaged 23% in the United States from 1900 to 1932, 81% from 1932 to 1980, and 39% from 1980 to 2018. Over these same periods, the top rate was 30%, 89% and 46% in Britain, 18%, 58% and 50% in Germany, and 23%, 60% and 57% in France. Fiscal progressivity was at its highest level in the middle of the century, especially in the United States and in Britain.

Sources and series: see piketty.pse.ens.fr/ideology

Key insight #3 : Picketty’s recipe to tackle rising inequalities

  • Granting employees voting rights in (fairly large) companies with capping of large shareholders voting rights
  • Putting in place a progressive tax on income (all income), inheritance but especially on wealth (all wealth) so that capital circulates more
  • Creating a Capital endowment for any young person entering working life: A cash payout of two hundred and thirty-one thousand dollars—the equivalent of sixty per cent of the average adult’s net worth. (Piketty has called this system of capital endowment “inheritance for all.”)
  • Creating of a basic income and education capital for everyone, up to the education expenses of the privileged groups, to be used throughout life
  • Extending the carbon tax to all carbon emissions so that it takes into account the realities of climate change, with a great contribution from polluting companies
  • Renegotiating treaties and trade agreements, which force countries to compete with each other for who has the lowest taxes on wealth and income, starving national social systems and increasing financial inequality

Good Economics for Hard Times : Book review

The book was first published in November 12, 2019. The authors, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 2019 (Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel).

In the book, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo address controversial topics such as immigration, trade, economic growth, technological disruption, universal basic and climate change. To do so, the authors rely on various experiments (randomized controlled trials) to test the effectiveness of specific policy interventions, in the same way clinical trials are performed in medicine (cf. figure below).

Thanks to its experimental focus, the book is written in an easy-to-understand style, which makes it accessible for readers who are not well versed in economics.

Some of the findings that caught my attention are as follows:

  • Increased immigration does not negatively affect local people wages
  • Ordinary people like to stay in their place. They don’t want to go to a different sector, to a different location and to a different life
  • Free trade boosts overall growth, but it also produces concentrated pockets of job losses
  • Tax cuts for the wealthy do not produce economic growth
  • Damages from climate change will be much more serious in poor countries
  • Because of distortions in the tax code (taxing humans more than capital) and industry concentration, most of automation today is more about deplacing workers than raising overall productivity
  • There is no evidence that cash transfers make people work less
  • Universal basic income is a good idea but it is very expensive. However, in the case of the US, it would require eliminating all existing welfare programs and raising the US tax level to the level of Denmark’s

Selected quotes from the book :

“Economics is too important to be left to the economists.”

“Economists are more like plumbers; we solve problems with a combination of intuition grounded in science, some guesswork aided by experience, and a bunch of pure trial and error”

“The focus on income alone is not just a convenient shortcut. It is a distorting lens that often has led the smartest economist down the wrong path, makers to the wrong decisions and too many of us to the wrong obsessions”

“We clearly don’t have all the solutions, and suspect that nobody else does either. We have much more to learn. But as long as we understand what the goal is, we can win”

“If the world warms by a degree centigrade or two, residents of North Dakota will mostly feel perfectly happy about it”

“The bulk of R&D resources these days are directed towards machine learning and big data methods designed to automate existing tasks rather than the invention of new products that would create (…) new jobs”

Covid-19: It is time for Impact finance to act now!

Sustainable development is more than ever relevant

The Covid-19 challenges are not only sanitary but also economic. The crisis has already plunged the world’s economy into a recession with negatives consequences on jobs and social stability. Low-income countries, particularly, face tremendous pressure to deal with the externalities of this crisis. In such a context, sustainable development goals have become more than ever critical (as shown in the following table). Moreover, a prolonged crisis would adversely influence the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and might wipe out the progress made in recent years in many SDGs.

SDGImpact of the crisis
Poverty (SDG1)Loss of income leading vulnerable segments of society and families to fall below poverty line
Health & wellbeing (SDG3)Devastating effect on health outcomes
Education (SDG4)Schools closed; remote learning less effective and not accessible for some
Decent work and economic growth (SDG8)Economic activities suspended, lower income, less work time, unemployment for certain occupations
Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11)Population living in slums face higher risk of exposure to Covid-19 due to high population density and poor sanitation conditions

With all this economic mess, is impact finance pertinent now?

Impact finance is far from being immune from the current systemic crisis aside from very few sectors like technology and biotech. However, times of uncertainty and hardship create new opportunities for financiers to make an impact. Indeed, the necessity of finding solutions in providing healthcare supplies, ensuring continuous access to food and supporting small and medium-sized businesses can be a catalyst involvement in impact finance. Furthermore, it is fair to say that public sensitivity to social issues, and to a lesser extent, environmental issues will be stronger when things normalize. Islamic financial institutions will be obliged to deal with this new reality, especially that they mostly operates in low and medium income countries. Relying on isolated and sporadic social responsibility initiatives (donations, interest free loans…) will not be effective nor sustainable in the medium and long terms.

The role of digital technology going forward

The crisis has forced us to review several paradigms including the integration of digital technology in our daily life. It is true that before this crisis we had already entered the era of the fourth industrial revolution, in which the fusion of technologies blurs the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological spheres.  In the finance sector, technology has become a positive enabler to deal with the crisis’ impacts. Examples include mobile-first banking, digital currencies, crowd funding and blockchain-driven supply chain finance. For Islamic financial institutions, the crisis is, therefore, an opportunity to embrace technology at a larger scale and to roll out new tech-driven business models that address critical sustainability issues in countries where they operate. The digital transformation challenge lies in the organization’s ability to evolve its business model, to transform its processes and finally to conduct change.

This article was first published in IFN

Green financing : Turkey’s first Sukuk issuance

On 3 June 2020, Zorlu Energy made history by becoming the first green Sukuk issuer in Turkey. Zorlu Energy, a subsidiary of Zorlu Holding, operates in electricity generation, electricity and gas distribution, wholesale and trade in the energy sector. More specifically, the company has projects in sustainable infrastructure, clean transportation and renewable energy. The green Sukuk issue, which targeted qualified investors, is part of 450 M TL issuance program. The first issue has a one-year term and quarterly variable income payment. The issue’s proceeds will be directed to finance sustainable infrastructure and clean transportation investments.

Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TKBB), the investment bank that structured Zorlu Energy green Sukuk, applied a sustainability framework aligned with the standards of the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA). Escarus acted as the external reviewer that provided the second party opinion on Zorlu Energy’s Sustainable Sukuk Framework.

Issuance elementsDetails
Program amount450 million TL
Issuance amount50 million TL
NatureDomestic
MaturityOne year
ReturnCorresponding Government Bond Yield + 4.5%
StructurerTKBB
Second opinionESCARUS
Nature of the placementPrivate
Underlying assetsSustainable infrastructure and clean transportation
Underlying contractIjara

Zorlu Energy green Sukuk : Technical details

Zorlu Energy green Sukuk is definitely a good news for impact finance for the following reasons:

  • Door opener to other Turkish green and social Sukuk issuances:  After this successful maiden assurance, other Turkish companies may be interested to issue Sukuk to finance their sustainability projects in the future either in local or foreign currencies. Sustainable Sukuk allow particularly issuers to broaden their investors base to include both conventional and sharia compliant investors
  • Confirms Turkey’s ambition as a center for sustainable finance: It is true that the country has already issued several green bonds since 2016. However, the ambition of positioning Istanbul international center has a hub for sustainable and Islamic finance supposes first a diversity of structures (Sukuk, bonds, equity, REIT…). Second, a diversity of local and international investors and finally a variety of the underlying sustainable assets in sectors such as renewable energy, healthcare, education, water and transportation.  
  • Triggers sustainable Sukuk momentum globally: The first half of 2020 has been very calm in terms of green and Sukuk issuance compared to the same period in 2019. This performance is understandable as most issuers have been busy struggling with COVID19 crisis.  Now that the economic activity is slowly kicking off, Sukuk can play an important role in closing the financing gaps of government and business to offset Covid-19 aftereffects. To illustrate, the Indonesian Government raised recently $2.5b through global Covid19 Sukuk offering to address the pandemic deficit

This article was first published in IFN Volume 17 Issue 26 dated the 1st July 2020 

Covid-19: What implications for the future of the banking sector?

Source : Velvet Chainsaw

With a large part of the world in forced confinement, the damage from the COVID crisis19 is mainly economic. This unprecedented situation has forced us to review several paradigms including the integration of technology in our daily life. It is true that before this crisis we had already entered the era of the fourth industrial revolution, in which the fusion of technologies blurs the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological spheres. However, the current crisis will have an accelerating effect on the generalization of this trend to all sectors of activity because, on the one hand, several psychological barriers related to digitalization will vanish. On the other hand, technology will be leveraged to prevent the effects of an upcoming crisis. We are already seeing the beginnings of these changes with examples such as the generalization of distance education, the use of telemedicine, teleworking and the distribution of public aids by smartphones. Changes that should take years (if not decades) happen now in a matter of days!

These conclusions apply to the banking sector as well. Digital channels are already emerging as the preferred distribution alternative especially with restrictions in terms of movement and in terms of staff availability. While ensuring continuity of service and addressing customer expectations, banks should take advantage of this opportunity to experience a radical overhaul of their operating models in order to adapt them to the new market reality when the crisis ends. The reliance on digital technologies and the limited use of physical branches currently will fast track the transformation of the banking landscape in the future by favoring banks with stronger digital capacities. Other external factors may further accelerate this trend. During this pandemic, banknotes have become a burden because facilitating virus transmission (some central banks disinfect banknotes). It is for this reason that the World Health Organization recommends the use of contactless payment. On the other hand, regulators could relax their requirements for Fintech during this period such as in South Korea.

Contrary to what one might think, the transition to digital and agile banking is not primarily a technological challenge because digital solutions are available on the market and, above all, have already been successfully implemented in several contexts. The challenge lies rather in the bank’s ability to evolve the business model, to transform processes, to adapt the organization and finally to conduct change.

Six takeaways from the event « Impact investing for SDGs: A new chapter for participative finance »

Al Akhdar Bank and The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in partnership with UNDP Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development and Al Maali organized a conference and a series of master classes on « Impact investing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): A new chapter for participative Finance » on February 20th and 21st in Casablanca (Morocco).  The event saw the participation of national and international experts in impact finance and was attended by more than a hundred national and international professionals.

The main takeaways from the conference, the master classes and the interactions with the participants are presented below:

  • Closing the gap between finance and sustainable development 

According to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 1.5-2.5% of the global GDP may be needed to finance the achievement of the SDGs in all countries. The public sector alone will not be able to close such important gap especially in developing countries. The active contribution of the private sector is contingent upon the availability of effective impact investing tools. Hence, there is clearly a timely opportunity for participative finance. It will allow the industry to clarify its genuine value proposition based on its core values, serve customers’ expectations and channel funds to address social and environmental challenges especially in OIC countries. In the context of Morocco where the government has an ambitious strategy in sustainable development, the need for financing is more than ever critical to achieve the set targets in energy, health, education, youth empowerment to name a few. It is true that flagship sustainability projects have easily secured financings (nationally and internationally), but this is not the case for most small and medium size initiatives.

  • Leveraging conventional impact investing experiences

Participative impact investing does not need to start from a white sheet. In fact, impact investing has been successfully applied in various sectors (green energy, education, health, food…), in both developing and developed countries and with diversified financial instruments.  Such a rich conventional impact investing experience has to be leveraged and, if needed, adapted to the participative finance requirements.

For instance, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has developed a toolkit designed to help investors navigate the landscape of impact measurement and management tools. This open source knowledge, which comprises systems, methods, data and indicators, can be easily used in the participative impact Investing context.

  • Thinking globally and acting locally

Relying on international best practices is important but adapting them to the local context is critical. For instance, copy pasting a Malaysian social sukuk structure in Morocco may not necessarily work because the social, economic and legal contexts are not identical. 

  • Empowering Waqf through blended finance mechanisms

Morocco prides itself on its rich millennial Waqf heritage whether it be in education, health and poverty alleviation. Thereby, Waqf can definitely bring value to the impact-investing field. For example, directing cash Waqf funds (which is now possible under a new Waqf law) to support social entrepreneurs can generate a much higher social return compared to simple cash donations. Cash Waqf use include co-financing, subsidizing or guaranteeing equity investments.

  • Building supportive ecosystems

The development of participative impact investing requires a supportive ecosystem that comprises assets owner (Participative finance institutions, high net worth individuals…), assets managers (investment advisors, government investment programs…), demand side players (social enterprises, cooperatives…) and service providers (consultants, auditors, research institutions…). Building the ecosystem will naturally take time but the industry has to start somewhere

  • Embracing Fintech

It is hard to image the emergence of participative impact investing without a strong focus on technology. Today, technology provides tremendous possibilities to make financial services affordable, scalable, customizable and effective (smart phones, peer-to-peer platforms, Blockchain, artificial intelligence…). The recent Fintech initiative in the Moroccan market (Crowdfunding, Digital financial services…) are encouraging and it is fair to expect more traction in the near future.

Ideas for Action 2019 : Financing and Implementing Sustainable Development

Source : World Bank

The Ideas for Action competition is an initiative in which young people submit their proposals for implementing SDGs. The attached report presents the 2019 winner projects that were selected from more than 3,000 proposals, which included over 21,000 participants from 142 countries.

The six winning (and mind blowing) ideas are:

  • Fetosense and U- Act: Novel Solutions for Monitoring Fetal Heart Rate and Uterine Activity to Reduce Neonatal Morbidity and Mortality
  • Using Location Intelligence to Solve the Urban Sanitation Crisis
  • WellPower: A Sustainable and Scalable Approach to Addressing the Water Crisis in Kenya Using an Innovative Smartphone App– Based Clean Water Delivery Network
  • The Eco Panplas Solution
  • Ekomuro H2O+: Collecting Rainwater in Used PET Containers in poor urban areas
  • DamoGO: Implementation of Mobile app–based Technology to Tackle Food Waste in the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asian Countries

The ideas are presented through the following perspectives:

  • Problem and context
  • Solution
  • Implementation and application
  • Scaling up the solution
  • Challenges and mitigations

For more details, kindly download the report “Ideas for Action 2019 Financing and Implementing Sustainable Development” by the World Bank