Through this upcoming series, we aim to highlight some of the key pillars of the FINISH Mondial programme which make it unique and innovative. In focus this quarter: financial innovations. The following is not an exhaustive list of what is happening (as our teams are constantly improving and innovating in their approaches to ensure we move closer to the goal of safely managed sanitation for all) but aims to showcase some of our innovative financing endeavours. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on any of the items in focus.
The financing gap to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 is tremendous (US$ 2.5 – 3 trillion per year). If we only consider SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation for all), the figure gets slightly less mind-boggling, but the finance gap still remains serious. Therefore, developing innovative finance mechanisms that help to unlock private capital for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), is high on the agenda of many sector stakeholders.
Below you will find a brief overview illustrating the ways in which FINISH Mondial is using innovative finance to realize safe sanitation for all.
Firstly, it is crucial to identify a key pillar of the programme: access to financial services (final literacy, micro-savings, micro-credit) for WASH—both for households and sanitation entrepreneurs. It may be business-as-usual for the FINISH Mondial team, but WASH micro-loans remain a product that many MFIs in certain countries shy away from. These micro-loans are often perceived as too risky or MFIs are unfamiliar with them. In all six FINISH Mondial countries, we are working on making this form of financing readily available.
In India, other interesting financial innovations are taking shape. A “Sanitation Impact Bond” (SIB) is being piloted. Despite the success of the FINISH programme in India (which has been operational since 2009 and has constructed more than 1 million toilets) liquidity in MFIs for toilet loans has become a bottleneck for further scaling. Therefore, together with Actiam and local financial institutions, FINISH Mondial has further developed this innovative financial tool, through which investments are raised from institutional investors and high net-worth individuals, to bridge the financing gap. The MFIs can only use these funds for sanitation loans. To accelerate and scale, they will be rewarded with a discount on their interest rates if they reach specific targets. For more details, click here. A US$ 3 million commercially-financed pilot is currently ongoing that helps to structure the full SIB that aims at mobilizing €100 million.
Another interesting initiative is being developed with Grameen Capital, with a similar goal: increasing capital for smaller MFIs for sanitation loans, also linked to result-based incentives. Besides technical assistance from FINISH Society to make things work smoothly at the field level, FINISH Mondial is being looked at to support this through a guarantee system.
FINISH Mondial is also exploring the possibilities of en-cashing carbon credits for its sanitation efforts. Through various routes (carbon sequestration, avoidance of methane emissions of landfills, reduction of the use of chemical fertilizers by co-compost application), safely managed sanitation largely contributes to climate change mitigation. Getting these carbon emission reductions certified could become a promising revenue stream for FINISH Mondial.
Finally, FINISH has not forgotten its origin: the ideas around micro-insurance for rural areas. In the state of Odisha (Eastern India), a micro-health insurance is being developed that is related to sanitation improvements. The basic concept is that people can get a discount on their insurance premium if they own and use a toilet, as they are less likely to become ill. As an important intermediary step, we are implementing telemedicine (this is quality primary healthcare more readily accessible near people’s residences).
Stay tuned as over the coming year as we dive more in-depth to the other unique pillars of the FINISH Mondial programme including our ambitions to reach extraordinary scale, inclusiveness and develop strategic partnerships for sustainability.
 UNCTAD (2014). World Investment Report.
By Astrid van Agthoven, Regional Programme Manager for South Asia, Aqua for All,
Management Team FINISH Mondial