We're super excited about our ever increasing involvement at the cutting edge of innovative financing for development work - but we're not going to hide the failures and disappointments either.
The first half of 2020 has been an understandably quiet time for Stratigos due to the global impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and associated response. With the lockdown and most air routes being closed or severely constricted, there has been little work available, and what opportunities were in the pipeline have all been delayed. All team members have been furloughed, and expenditures cut back to critical IT infrastructure and ongoing service fees. We are looking forward to being able to contribute to the innovative financing for the Sustainable Development Goals space again in the future.
One of the very few advantages of the pandemic response is the space to think and write and plan. One of the fruits of this enforced stepping back is an article written by Elham and Peter, From Good Governance to Governance for Good: Blockchain for Social Impact. This was published on May 26, and we hope it contributes to the thinking around this area during a time when practical applications are few and far between!
The Global Innovation Summit, part of the preparations for Dubai Expo, took place in Dubai November 27-29, where more than 100 Expo 2020-backed innovators from every corner of the world came together to share and exchange ideas around each of their uniquely creative solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. This flagship event for Expo Live (Expo 2020s global innovation and partnership programme that has allocated $100 million to support grass root innovations with guidance, exposure, and grants of up to USD 100,000) was themed ‘Passion Meets Capabilities’, brought together Expo 2020s partners, experts and the extended Expo Live family to support the programme’s 120 ‘Global Innovators’ to open new opportunities that work towards creating a better future for all. Peter opened the Summit with the keynote speech touching on his experiences as an entrepreneur and successful business person, framing the discussion firmly within the Sustainable Development Goals. A half hour speech was followed by an hour of Q&A, demonstrating the strong interest in this cohort in understanding the United Nations Global Compact, the Women's Empowerment Principles, and how measurement relates to funding in the age of the SDGs.
The final mission to Georgia to present the feasibility report to the Munipality of Rustavi, the relevant sections of the Government of Georgia, the Czech Development Agency and the UNDP took place from November 20-26.
Peter was invited to join more than 300 global health leaders in Abu Dhabi on November 19 for the Reaching the Last Mile Forum. Donors to GPEI announced US$ 2.6B in commitments towards ending polio, including US$ 1.08B from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US$ 514M from Britain, US$ 215M from the United States and US$ 160M from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. (link). His Holiness Pope Francis and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, announced an historic joint declaration pledging to improve the health of communities in need, and particularly those affected by neglected tropical diseases.
The second mission to Georgia was undertaken from October 6 to 13, with an emphasis on engagement with prospective investors within the specific legislative context of Georgia's public private partnership legislative environment.
A major multilateral organisation convened a working group of experts in Dubai on October 2 to refine the focus for a Girls Impact Bond to scale up opportunities for women and girls empowerment across the Middle East. Peter joined a panel of practitioner experts including Dr Emily Gustafsson-Wright of the Brookings Institution and Lily Han of Volta Capital.
A group of experts gathered in Bangalore August 28-30 for the 2019 Catalysing Social Impact Conference, an invitation only event
which brought together thinkers, doers and investors in Social Impact to focus on scalable solutions for the toughest and most intractable problems facing India today. Peter led the discussions on innovative financing.
In late July Peter participated in a research project, Research on Social Ventures and co-Working Spaces in order to detect the role of Impact Hubs in building networks among members, and how relevant such relations are for the development of social ventures, a project which is supported by the University of Cambridge - Judge Business School and the University of Bergamo (Italy).
The USAID Acquisition and Assistance Lab supports senior USAID staff with training and professional development on emerging development trends to build a more adaptive and resilient workforce in a number of ways, including a Speakers Series where external experts present. On July 17 Peter presented for the third time in a year (!), this time on the findings of the Frontier Technology report and its current and potential use in pay-for-success financing mechanisms.
A UNDP-sponsored mission, funded by Czech Development, had the first of three in-country missions starting the week of July 8. Peter is providing impact investment expertise to a multi-sectoral team working with the UNDP ServiceLab and the Innovation Hub at the Municipality of Rustavi, just outside Tbilisi, as they build out a strategy for a blended pay-for-success mechanism to encourage physical activity in the city's youth.
Peter led a week-long workshop on health security in the Indo Pacific Region in Australia starting Monday June 10, the week before the Global Health Security Summit kicked off. Some of the most experienced practitioners and policy makers in the region discussed approaches to building capacity in a highly variable front-line workforce ranging from the remote South Pacific to some of the most densely populated parts of South East Asia.
Karthik represented Stratigos at the Global Compact Local Network India 2019 Convention on May 31 where the key themes were empowering women, innovation for the Goals, and climate change and the environment.
Stratigos signed a contract on May 15 with Global Infrastructure Basel to produce a white paper on the mobilisation of additional capital for projects using the SuRe standard (the Standard for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure); recently GIB, as part of a project with the Botnar Foundation, streamlined its SuRe Standard so that children’s needs are explicitly addressed at all stages of any project. The white paper, co-authored by Elina and Peter, was submitted on June 30.
As part of his role with the UNGC UAE Local Network, Peter participated in a high-level focus group discussion on April 30 hosted by the National Committee on SDGs on gender equality in the UAE (SDG 5) and how the government and the private sector can work together to accelerate SDG 5 progress.
Peter was elected to the role of Treasurer for the United Nations Global Compact UAE Local Network Board on April 24.
The latest cohort of TechStars Dubai presented their final pitches on April 17th. Two of the start-ups mentored by Stratigos were amongst the most successful in terms of capital raising - Three Wheels United and Yacob - a bright future awaits both companies!
Peter presented Stratigos' recent DFID-commissioned study 'Connecting results to finance - can emerging technologies make impact bonds more impactful?' to a multi-sectoral group of senior DFID staff at Whitehall on April 11th. Unfortunately Tori was travelling so unable to participate in the final presentation, but it was the culmination of a hugely interesting and invigorating piece of work!
Elina led a workshop on legal structuring of impact bonds for a number of countries and UNDP colleagues in Slovakia on the 8th and 9th of April. Peter facilitated a one and a half hour session remotely from Cornwall on the legal checklist developed for Stratigos by Haiyun Chen and Nashel Jung from the ITC at New York University School of Law's Grunin Centre for Law and Social Entrepreneurship, under the supervision of Professor Deborah Burand.
Stratigos was shortlisted for the Expo Live Innovation Impact Grants for our Impact Capital Network (ICaN) initiative, but was informed on April 4 that although we'd been shortlisted from over 4,600 proposals from around the world, we had not been successful. We're learning from this and every other success - and failure - that we encounter. 😥
After many months of discussion, all parties made the decision that Stratigos' proposal to structure a long-term fund for a major international NGO in South America would be led by the partner we had nominated to support us in the work, with no tangible role for Stratigos in the foreseeable future. Disappointing as this was a long-term piece of work with a new client in a new geography and would've been incredibly interesting, but the partner we'd proposed was, in a straight up analysis of this specific opportunity, better placed to do the work. 😥but 👏
Moe presented a paper on 'When Good Innovations Go Bad!' at the World Bank Annual Conference on Land and Poverty - the theme of this year's conference in DC from 25-29 March was Catalyzing Innovation.
Peter was elected to the UNGC UAE Local Network Board on March 24th under a new Micro-Business category - super exciting!
The Oxford University Business Alumni Network asked Peter to reflect on what Balance for Better means for him - he's part of an illustrious group of alumni whose thoughts you can read here!
Moe, Haiyun and Nashel presented the draft legal checklist to peers at NYU on March 6 at the International Transaction Clinic (the ITC) at New York University School of Law's Grunin Centre for Law and Social Entrepreneurship
Stratigos was informed on March 5th that we were not even short-listed for a Children's Investment Fund Foundation piece of work in Kenya, facilitating the design and co-ideation process of an adolescent reproductive health initiative to be funded by DFID. Suuuuuper disappointing and a real wake-up call about how we communicate what we do and what our value proposition is. 😥😥
After 18 months of discussions and a really substantial amount of work on both sides, Stratigos was informed by a major and very forward-leaning international donor on February 21 that due to internal restructurings, they would not be funding a significant three-year piece of work that they had requested us to put a design and proposal forward for. A serious blow for the work in India in maternal and newborn health, and in Papua New Guinea in the reduction of gender-based violence, and also for Stratigos, as we'd been relying on the assurances that this contract would eventuate in order to have a runway of work in which to build the company. As the details of this is commercial in confidence, no links will be made available to the documentation, but please contact us if you're interested in knowing more. 😥😥😥
Immediately after the UAE Public Policy Presentation, Elina and Peter travelled to Jordan to work with the country's most impactful NGO, JOHUD, to tease out the value proposition around a workforce development program for marginalised and vulnerable youth.
Peter presented Elham and his' paper 'Digital Dividends for Development: Using Distributed Ledger Technologies to Accelerate Agenda 2030' at the UAE Public Policy Forum 2019 on the 27th and 28th of January - with the theme Accelerating SDGs Implementation: Future Policy Roadmap.
Peter and Tori presented the preliminary report of our study on the use of frontier technologies such as the blockchain , AI, IoT and remote sensors to connect results with financing to DFID in London on the 24th of January. As it was still unpolished and unreviewed, we won't be sharing a link to this version, but the link to the final report can be found in the news of the final presentation on April 11th (above).
Elina and Peter have been invited to participate in the OECD's Private Finance for Sustainable Development Week in Paris from the 15th to the 18th of January 2019.
The kick-off meeting for the Frontier Technology Livestreaming contract - part of DFID's Ideas to Impact initiative - took place at DFID in Whitehall on December 12, with Peter and Tori presenting the proposed conceptual framework and early findings to a cross-sectoral group of DFID staff. The strategy for approaching the study was discussed, reviewed and agreed - now the work begins in earnest!
We finalised the contract with DFID's Frontier Technology Livestreaming initiative to review the use of frontier technologies in development on December 4. The study, which will be co-authored by Peter and Tori, will be particularly focusing on what is being done to connect results to payment, with an emphasis on the blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, the advances in connectivity of the Internet of Things and remote sensors including drones and satellites.
On November 17 Stratigos co-hosted an event with the American University of Dubai to explore a new way of experience the realities of the trade-offs and compromises needed if we’re to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, thanks to a game developed in Japan.
Moe moderated a panel at the Africa Fintech Summit in Lagos on November 8. The topic was Innovation for Inclusion, and the panelists represented the Central Bank of Nigeria, Accion Venture Lab, Diamond Bank, ChangeInEx and piggybank.ng
Brad participated in the Business for Social Responsibility Annual Conference in New York from the 6th to the 8th of November, where the theme was 'a new blueprint for business'.
Peter participated in the Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai on October 30-31 and met with global experts in Islamic Social Finance to explore the obvious synergies between this field and the field of impact investing.
On October 29 Stratigos executed the Engagement Letter with Deborah Burand, Director of the International Transaction Clinic (the ITC) at New York University School of Law's Grunin Centre for Law and Social Entrepreneurship to develop a legal risk assessment tool for use in emerging economies when identifying and ranking risks for the structuring of impact bonds - largely thanks to the excellent work done by Moe, who will lead the initiative on Stratigos' behalf.
SOCAP, one of the highlights of the year for social entrepreneurs and the impact investing community took place from October 23rd to the 26th in San Francisco, and just like every year since it began, Brad was there to contribute to the conversation and keep Stratigos' fingers on the pulse of the social impact and impact capital pulse.
Stratigos hosted a session with the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Western Cape and the Grunin Centre for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at New York University School of Law on October 17 on legal issues in impact investment – read our blog about it here.
From the 10th to the 12th of October members of the Stratigos team were in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, working with members of Government and the private sector to develop the innovative finance ecosystem through support of the UNDP and the British Mission to Turkmenistan.
The GSG held their Annual Impact Investment Summit in Delhi on October 8th and Karthik participated in this as well as Prabhav 2018, put on by the Impact Investors Council of India.
Peter led a second workshop for senior USAID staff in Washington DC on October 5 detailing the innovative finance landscape and which mechanisms USAID can leverage most effectively as they catalyse countries around the world on the journey to self-reliance as the first session of the new financial year of the USAID Acquisition and Assistance Learning Lab series.
Three of the Stratigos team participated in a number of innovative finance events in New York in September at the 73rd Session of the United National General Assembly, including the Third High Level Session on NCDs, the launch of Convergence’s State of Blended Finance report, and Devex sessions on mobilising innovative finance solutions.
Moe recorded a podcast with Village Capital and Accion Venture Lab on July 24th titled Risk, Return, Impact, hosted by Leland Rice at Africa Fintech Rising. The podcast focussed on financial inclusion in Africa, technology, impact measurement, scale and barriers to adoption.
The UN Foundation invited Stratigos to lead a workshop with their members in Washington DC on the 16th of June, mainly from the world of family planning, to get them to better understand the innovative financing ecosystem, and which mechanisms can be deployed for different types of interventions in an increasingly resource-constrained environment.
A super interesting prospective client flew Peter out to Victoria Falls for the week of July 2nd to assess the ongoing impact initiatives being conducted by the holding company, and to discuss how to weave their impact narrative into their Information Memorandum in order to appeal to a broader section of potential investors.
On April 26 Stratigos was informed that our response to DFID tender PO 8229 – Independent Evaluation of the Development Impact Bonds (DIBs) Pilot Programme in partnership with Palladium was not successful. There was internal consternation around the size of the evaluation differential between our bid and the successful supplier. 😥
We were the only consulting company invited to participate in discussions at the OECD DAC in Paris on January 31 and February on using blended finance to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
Guillaume and Peter joined global leaders in Davos where a report evaluating the design and structuring process of the Utkrisht Impact Bondwas launched on January 25 on the fringes of the World Economic Forum. The report was funded by Convergence, the world’s first blended finance platform.
A Results-based Financing Manual co-authored by Palladium and USAID was presented at the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs Impact Bond Conference in Zurich on 18 January 2018 where Peter related his experiences with the Utkrisht Impact Bond.
We all celebrated the conception, structuring, design and launch of the world’s first maternal and newborn health impact bond at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad in November 29 2017 – the information memorandum of which can be found here.
Peter spoke at a Brookings Institution event where where Impact bonds in developing countries: Early learnings from the field was launched on September 18 on the fringes of the 2017 United National General Assembly.