Impact Investing | June 22, 2023

MDB Challenge Fund grants look to spur innovation in development finance

Amy Cortese and Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, June 22 – Leaders at the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris this week are calling for wealthy nations to boost funding for climate-resilient development in low- and middle-income countries. Making existing funds stretch further may be an easier lift.

The Gates, Open Society and Rockefeller foundations launched the MDB Challenge Fund last fall to find ways to more efficiently use the resources of multilateral development banks. The latest grants, from $140,000 to $750,000, “fill key knowledge gaps and demonstrate deepened MDB capacity, collaboration and impact,” said the Gates Foundation’s Kalpana Kochhar. 

New models

The Inter-American Development Bank will use the funding to securitize loans and free up more capital for lending in Latin America and the Caribbean. FSD Africa will explore local currency strategies to bring in domestic investors, such as pension funds. The Caribbean Development Bank is looking at pausing debt repayments in the event of a climate-related natural disaster, an idea championed by Barbados’ Mia Mottley.

Other grantees include Germany’s Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, Risk Control Limited and the University of Leeds in the UK.

Disclosing data

Nonprofit Publish What You Fund received a grant in April to capture data and improve reporting on how development finance is catalyzing private investment for climate impact, gender equality and other sustainable development issues. A January report from Publish What You Fund exposed just how little data is disclosed by development finance and multilateral institutions.

“We’re all relying on private capital mobilization to meet the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Publish What You Fund’s Gary Forster, “and we have pretty much no data on it.”