As a follow-up to the High Level Side Meeting on Children at the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (9CYMM) with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, when the Uganda Children’s Endowment Fund concept to establish sustainable investments in Child-Sensitive Social Protection was endorsed, the New York and Brussels legs of our international partnership mobilization mission have now been concluded.
The team briefed Hon. Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, Hon. Minister Kutesa on the Public-Private Partnership Uganda Children’s Endowment Fund to see that Government of Uganda can support piloting a Child Support Grant as well as to support a regulatory ecosystem that will enable additional finances to flow from Uganda’s private sector, digital financing (i.e. mobile money services) and from international philanthropists and impact investors into the Endowment Fund.
UBS Senior Managers and their Partner Law Firm, Reed Smith
The team met with UBS’s VP of Wealth Management, MD of Impact Investing, MD and Chief Business Officer, and Head of Sustainable Financing, all of whom were positive about the Public-Private Partnership Uganda Children’s Endowment Fund noting that it is a unique initiative in that it is taking a sustainable, system-wide innovative financing approach which, to their knowledge, has never been done before.
They noted they are interested in supporting, including providing technical expertise on the set-up and management of such a fund, and leveraging their vast networks of high net worth individuals and partners to invest in the fund.
UBS noted that “if any organization is well positioned to put the pieces of this puzzle together it is UBS considering our vast sustainable and impact investing expertise and range of partners we have.”
To discuss the finance structuring of the Fund, including all of the different blended finance streams (i.e. national budget, pooled private sector resources, pooled digital finance resources, development partners, philanthropists, social impact investors, etc.), UBS convened two meetings with one of their partner law firms, Reed Smith, who brought several of their partners and lawyers to discuss the initiative.
Reed Smith expressed a keen interest in being involved, especially in determining the finance structuring of the fund as well as the regulatory ecosystem to attract investments in each of the identified financing streams.
Senior Officials at UNICEF HQ
The team met with UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships and External Relations, Justin Forsyth, to brief him on our innovative financing initiative. The UNICEF DED noted that the initiative’s focus on children was commendable and that it could be interesting to explore beyond Uganda as long as it is proven in Uganda first.
In response to comments by the ED of PSFU who noted that matters of children shouldn’t just be left to the Government and the Private Sector has a role to play, especially in pooling resources that will have a significant impact on children realizing their full potential, the UNICEF DED noted that it is no longer about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rather ‘Shared Value’ with the power of business – their marketing power, products and supply/value chains – being harnessed to protect and promote children’s rights and for social good.
The team also met UNICEF’s Chief of Global Philanthropy who convened a meeting with the Director of Social Finance UK to brainstorm on how to structure the investments over the next several years, including from Government, philanthropists and social impact investors. They noted that they would be interested to have further meetings to explore this.
They also met UNICEF’s Head of New Aid Modalities who noted that Islamic Finance via the Islamic Development Bank could be an interesting option. She noted that right now is the perfect opportunity to bring Uganda in as a pilot. She also noted that the World Bank’s Global Concessional Financing Facility on Refugees, which is currently only targeting the Syrian refugee crisis, is an option to explore as they are looking at expanding it beyond the Middle East. Lastly, she noted that the African Development Bank could be interested and could help to structure the Endowment Fund and could attract investors as they have access to investors and are more neutral than a commercial bank. In conclusion, it was agreed that the team should convene the Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, and World Bank to work out the blended finance structuring and investments.
The mission team also met UNICEF’s Deputy Director of Communications and several members of UNICEF’s Division of Communication. They presented the #InvestInUGChildren: Realize Uganda’s Vision 2040 narrative to which the Deputy Director commended and noted this as a best practice for other countries.