What are the greatest challenges for a government when implementing outcomes-based financing? What does it mean to shift from impact investment to impact economy? How do we engage with governments to build the case for an outcomes-based approach? These questions framed the discussion between the Education Outcomes Fund’s (EOF) CEO Dr. Amel Karboul, Mika Pyykkö, Marcos Vinícius Souza, and Itziar Amuchástegui at the recent ‘Engaging governments with results-based finance’ webinar, hosted by The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG).
Discussing how best to engage with governments to promote results-based financing (RBF), the panelists challenged the general narrative that governments are bureaucratic and slow. Dr. Karboul drew from her experience working in government to show how governments can innovate and make a real impact in delivering results, but all too often they are risk-averse and reluctant to change the status quo.
Results-based financing should be defined through the lens of partnership, enabling different stakeholders and sections of society—such as civil society, government, and academia—to come together to solve problems. Fostering collaboration through these partnerships ensures that public purpose stays at the core.
The panelists identified the main barriers to RBF as resistance to disruption of the status quo and the risk-averse mindset of governments. To shift these barriers, Dr. Karboul said it was critical to identify a government’s biggest fears, challenges, and goals before defining a results-based mechanism to support their vision. It’s crucial to find champions at the highest levels of government who are willing to innovate and support the technical experts in their teams. This has been the case for EOF’s use of RBF in education, breaking new ground in funding for outcomes and ensuring that programs deliver the change in learning that children and youth deserve.
Holding actors accountable for results, rather than for input-based activities, is a big transition for all involved and won’t solve every societal problem—but ultimately, RBF allows government to define and maintain a sharp focus on their biggest priorities and create a new form of partnerships to deliver results.