Social Bond for Impact | Mission-related Investments | Ford Foundation

© Jonathan Riley

The Ford Foundation was founded in 1936 and currently manages an endowment of USD 13 billion, spending 5 percent per year on grants and other charitable purposes. The mission-related investment team, formed in 2017, has not only the objective to earn an attractive financial return but also delivering concrete social returns for the foundation.

Gerald Pambo-Awich, Investment Officer, Mission Investments, Ford Foundation participating on a virtual impact investment panel of CFA Society New York: “The mission investments team not only focuses on the 5 percent paid out per year but also how to put the 95 percent of capital to work. The team is a multi-strategy team with a global mandate.”

The most important objective is to generate risk-adjusted return AND impact. The missions investment team invests in five areas:

  • Affordable housing: the alpha opportunity is stability
  • Quality jobs: decent work in an inclusive economy, employee-centered organisations
  • Financial markets: financial inclusion, low-cost, high-quality solutions powered by technology
  • Biotechnology and health: in Emerging, facing 90 percent of infectious deseases but only 10 percent of R&D, despite growing population and wealth
  • Asset management industry

Gerald Pambo-Awich: “Women and people of color represent 70 percent of the U.S. population but out of the USD 71 trillion AUM they only control about one percent of that. If you think that intelligence is equally distributed this is a clear example of the opportunity not equally distributed. So we invest to change that.”

The Ford Foundation demonstrates how it achieves returns by the response to Covid-19. The foundation issued a USD 1 billion social bond to double the grant budget of the next two years. At 2,5 percent for 30 years and 50 year periods to be paid back by investment returns allowing the foundation to be impactful immediately and bringing the financial markets into an impactful area (biotech, vaccines, test kits, low interest loans, other areas where investments were needed).

The Ford Foundation announced on 12 January, 2021 Anthony Bebbington as International Director of its Natural Resources and Climate Change program based in New York. In this role, he will lead the team that oversees Ford’s global work supporting rural, low-income, indigenous, traditional, and Afrodescendant communities in the Global South who play a key role in mitigating climate change, work toward better governance over natural resources in their territories, and fight for their land rights.

“Working on issues facing rural and indigenous communities confronted by compounding forms of inequality has been central to my life’s work. I’m honored that the foundation has entrusted me to help carry forward its mission to reduce inequality in all its forms and ensure that communities closest to today’s pressing issues can shape decisions that affect their lives,” said Bebbington. “I’m truly excited to join a talented and committed team and share the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career.”