Many widespread, global issues like poverty and disease remain unaddressed because governments often lack financial resources to make the needed long-term investments. But a just-released book from Columbia Business School Professor Georgia Levenson Keohane has found a solution to the financial shortfall: using innovative financing, a creative way to find more money to tackle these global challenges and encourage smarter use of resources we deploy for social change.
In her new book Capital and the Common Good, Keohane, a professor of management at Columbia Business School, explains how borrowing some techniques from the world of finance can be a way to bridge the funding gap necessary to underwrite social investments.
“Innovative finance has provided polio vaccines to children in the DRC, crop insurance to farmers in India, pay-as-you-go solar electricity to Kenyans, and affordable housing and transportation to New Yorkers,” says Keohane. “It has helped governmental, commercial, and philanthropic resources meet the needs of the poor and underserved and build a more sustainable and inclusive prosperity.”
In the book, Keohane shares examples of innovative financing: an expert in securitization bundles future development aid into bonds to pay for vaccines; an entrepreneur turns a mobile phone into an array of financial services for the unbanked; and policy makers adapt pay-for-success models from the world of infrastructure to human services like early childhood education, maternal health, and job training.
Philippe Douste-Blazy, under-secretary-general and special adviser on innovative financing for development at the United Nations, has high praise for Keohane’s work. “Development assistance and philanthropy are vital resources in the campaign to solve the world’s big developmental and social issues. But they are not enough,” says Douste-Blazy. “There has never been a greater need for innovative finance to meet the scale of economic and social disparities. In this exceptional work, Keohane shows us how we can make capitalism work better for all.”
“Innovative finance is as much about incentives and sound decision-making as it is about money. When it works, innovative finance gives us the tools, motivation, and security to invest in our shared future,” argues Keohane. “The book examines a number of these experiments to better understand what works, what doesn’t, and why. Over the long term, we hope to improve the ways finance can help build healthy, inclusive, stable, and resilient communities around the world.” To learn more about the cutting-edge research being conducted at Columbia Business School, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.