At BNP Paribas, we have been pursuing an active policy in favour of diversity, equal opportunities and inclusion since 2004. This is why we are pioneers of impact bonds, which are making a real difference on the ground.
The Positive Impact Business Accelerator was launched in August 2021. What is its role?
Maha Keramane: It was created to group together activities with a strong positive impact, of course, but which are also very innovative and atypical. It coordinates the Group’s impact investing and financing strategy and develops four particular types of activities:
- Impact bonds;
- Proprietary impact investing;
- Support of the business lines in developing a dedicated approach towards impact entrepreneurs;
- Deployment of the MESIS impact measurement methodology.
Its creation reflects a double change of scale: it consolidates previously experimental activities and benefits from strengthened resources. I manage a team of nine people, and the Group has allocated a proprietary impact investment budget of €200m to support three themes: social, natural capital and local development.
Among your activities, impact bonds are the first subject that BNP Paribas has taken a position on. What do they consist of and how did the Group put them in place?
M.K.: An impact bond is a partnership between the public authorities, the private sector and the Social and Solidarity Economy (French ESS, or third sector) intended to promote the emergence of innovative social or environmental projects. The very first bond, launched in 2010 by the British Ministry of Justice to reduce the risk of repeat offences by detainees upon release from prison, was a resounding success that transformed public policy.
Inspired by this initiative, BNP Paribas launched its first impact bond in the United States in 2015. When the French Government announced a first call for projects in 2016 to launch social impact bonds in France, we were already prepared and structured the first prototype of its kind with Adie (main French microfinance institution and partner of the Group since 1995)!
Pioneers in the field, we are also leaders in France: we play both the roles of structurer and investor. Building on our expertise, the European Investment Fund (EIF) asked us to co-build a fund dedicated to scaling this type of product in Europe.
"An impact bond is a partnership between the public authorities, the private sector and the Social and Solidarity Economy (French ESS, or third sector) intended to promote the emergence of innovative social or environmental projects."