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UBS philanthropic arm leads first maternal-health DIB

The UBS Optimus Foundation is backing a $3.5 million development impact bond for Rajasthan, India, that aims to reduce the state’s maternal and infant mortality rate, among the highest in the country.

The “Utkrisht” bond (Hindi for “excellence”) hopes to prevent 10,000 deaths over the next five years by expanding private neonatal health and delivery services to 600,000 women.

Palladium developed the bond and program, and two non-profit organizations — Population Services International and the Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust — will be implementing it. They are both investing capital alongside UBS Optimus. USAID and pharmaceutical company Merck’s maternal health program, MSD for Mothers, are contributing $8 million in funding, pending the success of the program.

Development impact bonds cover pay-for-success initiatives and are backed by development institutions; they differ from social impact bonds, which are typically government-backed. Only a handful of DIBs have successfully launched, including an education DIB also in Rajasthan. Healthcare appears to be a major focus for others that are in the works.

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