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Social Performance & Impact Rating


A Social Performance & Impact Rating (SPIR) is an expert-based tool, developed by Inclusion, for assessing social enterprises (SEs) on a global scale. The SPIR is designed to measure the social performance of SEs and provide analysis of the manner in which they oversee, manage and monitor their performance as they seek to achieve their social mission. The SPIR reviews how effective SEs are at putting their mission into practice and encompasses their objectives, systems, services, human resources and results. It also takes into account SEs’ use of measures and other information as they seek to achieve their objectives.


The SPIR was developed using detailed surveys of social market practitioners from different regions of the world. The survey data was analyzed and used to construct the SPIR scorecard, which consists of seven main social performance factors, as well as 144 sub-factors and 410 indicators. The scorecard factors, sub-factors and indicators were also individually weighted through the survey process. The sum of the scorecard factors generates an overall social performance score, which is used by Inclusion [Africa] analysts to assess the overall social performance of the SE. The final assessment grade is assigned by a joint Inclusion [Africa] and Inclusion [SR] rating committee.


The SPIR looks at whether a social enterprise is operating in the best interests of its beneficiaries, as well as its risk of causing adverse effects to those beneficiaries and other stakeholders. This is done by measuring, amongst other factors, the SE's:



  • Social Impact; and
  • Social Output/Outcome



Social Impact: This refers to the effect the SE has on the lives of its target population. In order to show a positive impact, an SE must show that without its involvement the same results could not have been achieved. This means that not only has the target population benefited from the availability of its services, but that it could not have benefited to the same extent without it. Social impact is generally measured by means of various types of academic research, such as randomized control trials.


Social Output/Outcome: This refers to the effect the SE has on the its beneficiaries, in the absence of a control group. By exploring social output/outcome, an SE can determine whether its beneficiaries are better or worse off than they were before its services were available, although causality cannot be conclusively proven.

Social Impact Ratings (SIR)


Social Impact Bond (SIB) Ratings

A SIB Rating is a type of social impact rating specifically assigned to issuances of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs).

A Social Impact Bond, also known as a Pay for Success Bond or a Social Benefit Bond, is a contract with the public sector in which a commitment is made between private investors, social sponsors, service deliverers

and a government agency to provide improved social outcomes of a specific socially-oriented project, such that it results in public sector savings. This form of financing allows the government to partner with innovative and effective service providers and, if necessary, private foundations or other investors willing to cover the upfront costs and assume performance risk to expand promising programs, while assuring that taxpayers will not pay for the programs unless they demonstrate success in achieving the desired outcomes.


Inclusion [Social Ratings] assigns SIB Ratings to these types of bonds as a means for investors to assess the social impact of the underlying sponsored program and to differentiate between the risks inherent in achieving a successful social outcome while balancing the financial return to the investors.


A SIB Rating is based upon a comprehensive proprietary scorecard methodology, developed by I[SR].
It addresses the following aspects of the social program being financed through the proceeds of the SIB:


  • Clarity of social issue being addressed
  • Robustness of the social intervention strategy
  • Quality of service providers
  • Strength of the operating model
  • Baseline/Control of impact metrics
  • Feasibility of the financial model
  • Credit quality of ultimate funder

The above factors are further broken down into sub-factors, with specific assessment criteria, each with identifiable indicators and weights. Although scorecard-based, the final SIB Rating takes into account highly qualitative external factors, resulting in an expert-based result.

Development Impact Bond (DIB) Ratings


Similar in structure and purpose to Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), DIBs are issued primarily in Emerging Markets where the local government outcome funder is substituted by an international public agency, a donor NGO or in some cases, a multilateral development agency. The repayment to investors is structured around defined social outcomes; stakeholders – public, private and non-profit – start by agreeing on the social outcome they want to achieve (e.g. eradication of sleeping sickness in cattle in Uganda) and a method for measuring success (e.g. parasite prevalence reduced from 5% to 1.5%). Private investors provide funding to roll out and/or scale

up an “optimal mix” of evidence-based interventions aimed at achieving the desired outcome, through a network of high-performing service providers put together and managed by a third-party intermediary or coordinating agency hired by investors. Data is collected and progress is closely monitored, also through
the intermediary or coordinating agency. If – and only if – independently verified evidence shows that

these programs have succeeded in delivering the desired social outcomes, the outcomes funders, the aforementioned international public sector agency or donor, repay investors their principal plus a return that

is commensurate with the level of success (e.g. the greater the improvement in parasitic reduction in cattle outcomes, the greater the return, above a minimum threshold). To give the intervention(s) enough time to generate outcomes, a DIB is typically structured over a period of 3–10 years.


The key characteristics of a Development Impact Bond are:


  • Some or all project financing is provided by investors who assume risk for
    project performance
  • An outcomes funder must be willing to pay for pre-defined results after they
    are achieved
  • Financial returns to investors are tied to the achievement of social outcomes
  • Outcomes funders do not specify interventions – strategies for achieving outcomes
    are agreed between investors and service providers, usually through an intermediary
    or coordinating agency, with some flexibility for adaptation through the duration
    of the program
  • Contract outcomes and outputs are independently verified to ensure that both
    investors and outcomes funders are confident about the extent to which results
    have been achieved


A DIB Rating involves more complex factors, than those incorporated into the I[SR] SIB Methodology, such as country risk, acquisition of local data and on-site evaluations, and require more extensive up-front coordination with and analysis of the various sponsors in the project. I[SR]’s extensive local presence and knowledge of operating in emerging markets gives I[SR] a true competitive and analytical advantage in assigning social ratings to these important and growing financial instruments.

Social Responsibility Ratings (SRR)


SRR ratings are assigned to social enterprises, financial institutions, corporates or any organization, whose business model or objectives include a significant commitment to promoting a social and environmental benefit. The SRR assesses the organization’s clarity of social purpose, its strategy for achieving social impact,

its commitment to its social goal and the level of progress achieved to date. The SRR is a globally comparable assessment that cuts across a wide range of sectors, social and environmental goals and geographic reach.

Green Bond Ratings (GBR)


With similarities to credit ratings of traditional financial bond credit ratings, I[SR]’s GBRs differ from the ratings

of Green Bonds by the major international credit rating agencies (e.g. S&P) by incorporating certain social responsibility factors found in our SRR Ratings, in conjunction with a fundamental assessment of the bond’s credit risk. Our ratings thus provide investors additional social factor insights that can be incorporated into

an investors decision-making process, beyond just financial returns - thus enabling them to meet their

ESG objectives.

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