Impact bonds or how to promote inclusion and equal opportunities

Empowering everyone to find their place in society, regardless of their vulnerability, is essential to living together. Explanations with Maha Keramane, Head of the Positive Impact Business Accelerator at BNP Paribas.

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."
Interview of Maha Keramane, produced in 2019.

Since then, some impact bonds mentioned in this video have expired and new ones have been launched.

How is this scaling up being carried out?

M.K.: Through quantity, size and diversification. There are more and more impact bonds and they relate to larger projects. Above all, while they were previously limited to social issues, their scope has been extended to environmental and development topics as well.

We won the first development impact bond launched by France to fight against menstrual precariousness with a pilot programme in Ethiopia. We also work alongside the Fondation d’Auteuil in the Loire-Atlantique and Gironde French departments to avoid placing vulnerable children in foster care, and we have 15 projects in the process of being structured, including projects in circular economy. These are just a few examples among many others!

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Find Maha Keramane's interview and other experts' points of view in our 2021 integrated Report.

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Bringing you new solutions for a sustainable world : cover of the 2021 Integrated report

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