The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation played a key role in mobilising the Portuguese impact investing ecosystem in Portugal since 2013. It invested in new instruments, such as Social Impact Bonds, delivering positive outcomes in youth employability, children services, and caregivers.
Industry: Philanthropy; Foundations
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is an international foundation, based in Portugal, which promotes the development of individuals and organisations, through art, science, education, and charity, for a more equitable and sustainable society.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation wanted to test and adopt new impact investment models that combine impact with financial returns.
In close partnership with maze, it made use of a range of tools that include Outcomes-based commissioning, Growth Programmes, Venture Capital and Impact Advisory to innovate in the way it allocates its resources with the goal of achieving lasting impact.
António Miguel - Venture Capital and Impact Advisory
Cristina Almeida - Venture Capital
Rita Casimiro and Margarida Anselmo - Growth Programmes
Margarida Anselmo - Outcomes-based commissioning
Europe, with a focus in Portugal
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and maze partnered to address the following challenges:
#1 How to align the Portuguese impact ecosystem around common goals? (impact advisory)
#2 Which instruments to adopt to promote innovation in the public sector to achieve better outcomes? (social impact bonds)
#3 What are the capacity building areas that impact startups need to grow? (growth programmes)
#4 Which instrument can support tech-enabled impact startups? (venture capital)
For challenge #1, we developed the Portuguese Strategy for Impact Investment for the period 2015-2020 and for the period 2020-2030, by engaging with the main stakeholders in the ecosystem and guide them towards converging goals and actions. As part of this work, maze and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation played a fundamental role in the structuring and launch of Portugal Inovação Social in 2015. This government initiative mobilized €150 million for impact innovation in Portugal.
For challenge #2, we learned that Social Impact Bonds are powerful tools to drive better outcomes in social services across areas like education, employment, children services and social care. We launched five Social Impact Bonds which delivered positive social outcomes across the various thematic areas.
For challenge #3, we understood that Growth Programmes are tools that help impact ventures in growing their impact and their business. We have delivered Gulbenkian Digital Shift, focused on the digital transformation social enterprises.
For challenge #4, we launched the MSM impact venture capital fund, which has the anchor investment from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
- 5 social impact bonds
- 800 children in primary school years have learned computer programming
- 170 vulnerable young adults have entered the job market
- 160 children and youth at risk were preserved within their families
- 240 informal caregivers were supported
- Portugal is the third country in the world with more Social Impact Bonds
- €150 million mobilized for impact investment in Portugal, via Portugal Inovação Social
- €45 million mobilized for MSM fund, the first impact VC fund in Portugal
- +200 impact startups supported from all over Europe
- +400 students from NOVA SBE participated in impact investment course
Our partnership with maze over the past ten years has a common loop: we experiment new instruments, learn together, and find ways to scale what works. This is done by always having social issues at the core of the work and partnership. Luís Jerónimo, Director of the Sustainable Development Programme
How this could apply to you
The partnership between the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and maze is the archetype of what a long-lasting relationship can deliver in terms of social and environmental outcomes by adopting a ‘toolbox’ approach.
Instead of pre-defining specific tools, this partnership has evolved throughout the years by experimentation, learn from early implementation, and supporting its scaling.
That is what happened with Social Impact Bonds, which started in Portugal by the hand of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and maze and have now grown to more than 20+ Social Impact Bonds, positioning Portugal as the third country with more Social Impact Bonds in the world.
For any Foundation or market champion across Europe wanting to seed innovative impact investment instruments in their geography, we believe that the work of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a great inspiration.