Innovative Finance: Hacking finance to change the world

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Overview

To address global poverty - do we really not have enough resources or do we not have the right tools to allocate our resources?

The tools of finance, when applied correctly, can be an enabler of social and environmental outcomes. This course is designed to give you the ability to build innovative financing strategies that work towards outcomes such as financial inclusion, access to energy and access to education. The innovative finance process has five key components. It starts with identifying the outcomes you are looking to achieve and next moves on to due diligencing your issue area using techniques like design thinking to make sure you are designing with the end user. Next you must map all of the resources available for your outcome and then discover opportunities to augment these through business model innovation, multi-stakeholder partnerships and innovative financial structures. Finally, the last step is to put all of these pieces together to design an innovating financing strategy.

Each week dives into a component of the process using examples and real case studies from social entrepreneurs, non-profits, development funders, impact investors, governments, foundations and more. Over five weeks you’ll learn about new types of revenue creation, financing approaches, business models and partnerships. By the end of the course, you’ll have the ability to hack finance for social change.

Watch the course trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSMUoCJgqkw

Syllabus

Choosing Your Issue Area
-Welcome to the first week. We start by defining what innovative finance is and why we need to innovative around financing for social impact. The seven themes of impact we consider are housing, health, education, financial inclusion, agriculture, energy, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. Our case studies are a social enterprise, impact investor, foundation, non-profit and government who are each building innovative financing strategies. You will be investigating why these organisations were created and what the specific issue areas are that they have chosen. We'll encourage you to also start thinking about which of these issue areas resonates with you and what you wish to address in the future. This is the first building block in guiding you to create an innovative financing strategy for yourself.

Understanding Challenges and Roadblocks
-This week we are going to look at how you assess the needs, challenges and roadblocks in your issue area. You’ll be introduced to Due Diligence, an essential process that needs to be undertaken to map the problem and solutions landscape of an issue area. Following this, we cover design thinking - a useful tool that can be used when conducting due diligence. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the user perspective when mapping problems and potential solutions. Once we’ve understood the concepts, our case studies explain their approaches to due diligence and impact measurement. For this week’s assignment, you’ll need to pick your issue area and outcome metrics as well as design an engagement plan.

Identifying Resources
-Congratulations on reaching week 3! This week we are going to focus on the resources you have to achieve the outcomes in your issue area. The primary goal of this week is to get you to think creatively about your assets, revenue streams and funding sources. We are going to start with how you create revenue from assets that you have already identified and work that you (or others) are already doing. Then we are going to look at the different types of funders you should think about engaging with around resourcing. We will also look at websites to find information about these funders. We will spend a bit of time speaking about a specific type of contract called an outcomes-based contract, which can be an effective tool to create revenue streams from a third party payer. Finally, our cases are going to speak about how they identified resources to address their issue area and work towards their outcomes. You’ll hear the case participants reference the different types of funders that we discuss as well as the opportunity to use an outcomes-based contract. The assignments this week include a graded quiz and creating a resource map. Let’s get going!

Discovering Opportunities
-So now that you’ve had engaged with resources, let’s consider the opportunities and risks that you may face when dealing with your issue area. First, you’ll learn how to look for specific types of opportunities outside of your issue area. We’ll draw on the best practices of other sectors or geographies to create new approaches to achieving your outcomes.

We’ll then dive into the darker side - the risks that you’ll need to understand and address with your innovative financing strategy. For your assignment, you’ll need to identify the risks and opportunities associated with your issue area.


Designing for Impact
-Congratulations on reaching the final week of the course! It’s a short week ahead. Here we introduce you to the five stages of the innovative finance process, which you have been working through during the past four weeks. This week we have arrived at the design process. This requires us to look back over what we’ve done to create a design for our innovative financing strategy.

In this week our cases tells us how they designed for impact. Following this, I provide a summary of the cases from week 1 to week 5 and how it relates to the innovative finance process. We end off the course with an exam, covering everything we have learned, and also an optional honours assignment. In this assignment we want you to design your Innovative Finance Strategy.