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Betha 1

The Innovative Finance Initiative recently hosted a service provider workshop for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Impact Bond Innovation Fund that gathered about 35 representatives from a range of ECD organizations and the Western Province Departments of Health and Social Development. Items on the agenda included discussing fund progress to date, exploring how service providers can prepare themselves to participate in the fund and collecting feedback to inform the design process.

Susan DeWitt and Jonny Gill (Social Finance) detailed our fund design progress and provided participants with a preview of things to come by discussing Social Finance’s experience implementing impact bonds in the UK. Service providers generated most of the talking points though, contributing to a service provision mapping exercise at the beginning of the session, assessing the relative importance of outcomes on the list and engaging in some population based planning using scenarios drawn from selected areas of the Western Cape.

Bertah 2

The Western Cape Province.

A number of valuable insights emerged from the outcomes discussion and scenario planning activity as service providers developed a greater appreciation for the process they will have to engage in to participate in the fund at a later stage. Some of the feedback provided by service providers is as follows:

  • Psycho-emotional measures are important and may warrant greater consideration as outcomes. It may also be valuable to consider how the fund can address maternal depression which often has marked effects on child development.
  • Participants agreed on the importance of employing a set of outcomes that are cost effective, measurable and achievable.
  • Most service providers are not accustomed to implementing population based planning and it would be useful to develop a set of guidelines to facilitate their planning process
  • There is a pronounced need for a network of partnerships to achieve the objectives of the fund, not only between service providers and government departments but also with parents in the home who need to be capacitated to provide the best possible care for their children.
  • Service providers are eager to coordinate with each other to achieve fund objectives and believe there is value in conducting future sessions of this nature to discuss the fund and integration of services.

A possible means of promoting the integration of services may be to enact a hub and spoke model with service provider efforts coordinated by a lead provider. A consistent theme of our conversations with participants of this session and our other encounters with service providers has been their eagerness to contribute to the collaborative design process and prepare for eventual fund participation. We have received immensely valuable input from service providers to date and are eager to continue partnering with them over the coming months.