Friday 28th October 2016                 Change text size:

TED talks: invest in social change – Toby Eccles


What if investors could help tackle pressing social challenges while getting rewarded financially? They can, says Toby Eccles in this week’s featured TED talk, through potentially revolutionary social impact bonds.

Eccles, the development director at Social Finance UK, is co-developer of the financial instruments, which allow private investors to pledge money to social initiatives. If the desired social outcomes are met, the government then pays the investors their money back with interest.

A great idea in practice, but do they work? The statistics suggest they do. A flagship bond, set up in 2010 to provide support to short-term prisoners in Peterborough, has helped bring about a 12% decrease in the number of reconvictions. Meanwhile, national levels have gone up 11%.

In October, social investment expert Sir Ronald Cohen described the ability to measure social outcomes from investments as “breakthrough thinking.

In the TED talk, filmed at TEDGlobal 2013 in June, Eccles says, “We are incentivised to work with the complicated and with those willing to change.”

To watch this video on the TED website, click here.

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