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DUO for a JOB: the first Social Impact Bond in continental Europe

Young immigrants in Belgium face significant challenges finding stable jobs. Of all EU member states, Belgium has the second-largest labour participation gap between those born in the country and non-European immigrants: In 2016, the unemployment rate in Belgium for native people was of 6,1% vs. 21,2% for non-EU-28 citizens, according to the SPF (Service Public Fédéral Emploi, Travail et Concertation sociale).


Terms of the bond

  • Status: Launched in 2014, completed in 2017

  • Country: Belgium

  • Target population: young unemployed immigrants in Belgium

  • Target number of beneficiaries: 322

  • Selected impact metrics: 90+ working days within one year after the intervention

  • Duration: 3 years

  • Amount: €347,000

  • Average annual return: 4% IRR

  • Outcome funders: Actiris, the Brussels Employment Office

  • Investors: HNWI and a Foundation

  • Service provider: DUO for a JOB


The service provider

DUO for a JOB, a Belgian non-profit organisation, provides an intergenerational mentorship programme, which pairs young immigrants with Belgian mentors aged 50+ with the aim of finding a job over a period of 6 months. Unique to this approach is the fact that young immigrants receive insights into the Belgian job market from someone with deep knowledge about the country, providing both the mentor and the mentee with valuable intergenerational and intercultural interaction.


In 2013, DUO was looking for funding for its recently launched mentorship programme. Although Actiris, the Brussels Employment Office was interested in the method, DUO did not yet have the results to prove the effectiveness of its approach. KOIS then proposed a Social Impact Bond (SIB), a solution that was then unprecedented in Continental Europe.


For Actiris, SIBs are a great way to experiment with promising projects. The method enables us not only to spread the financial risks of experimenting, but also allows us to create new solutions for jobseekers in Brussels. The extra funds help us with developing new solutions for Brussels’ job seekers and employers, which is our absolute priority.”, Fatine Daoudi, Head of Partnerships Department at Actiris



It involved three parties:

  • Actiris as the outcome funder, enabling innovation without risking taxpayer’s money;

  • DUO for a JOB as the service provider, having the means to build track record for its innovative approach;

  • Investors helping drive innovation in social services with a potential financial reward.


The outcome



During the 3 years of sponsoring, the SIB allowed 322 young unemployed immigrants to benefit from DUO’s 6-month mentorship program. Their employment results were compared to a control group composed of 4,000+ job seekers recently registered at Actiris, with the same profile as DUO’s mentees (in terms of gender, age and nationality).



After only three years, DUO was able to prove the effectiveness of its intergenerational approach: DUO’s mentees employment rate was 28% higher than that of the control group.

“The SIB gave us the opportunity to overcome our initial funding problem and to build the credentials of our program. It has been a fantastic springboard which enabled us to scale up and extend our impact to other cities, in Belgium and abroad."

Frédéric Simonart & Matthieu Le Grelle, Founders & Managing Directors of DUO for a JOB


For DUO, the SIB has been a real springboard for transforming a high-risk idea into a fast-growing social enterprise. From the second year on, the impact measurement system has built project credibility for public and private investors. Today, DUO's €3 million budget is funded by more than 50 organisations, ranging from foundations to corporates and public agencies. This includes Actiris, which became a structural partner of DUO.


Moreover, the innovative nature of SIBs as pioneers of public-private partnerships, has generated high visibility for DUO not only to investors, but also to a large pool of mentors. Today, DUO counts 850 active mentors, with a retention rate of 90%.


Finally, the diversified funding structure and the access to a large network of public and private partners have laid strong foundations to support DUO's growth in Belgium and abroad. Currently present in four cities with 2,000 duos created to date, DUO aims to increase its outreach locally and beyond Belgian borders. With financial support of a foundation, DUO will replicate its successful mentorship model in five European cities facing similar unemployment issues for migrant workers, starting with Paris in 2019. Additional funding is still needed to carry out this ambitious expansion.

“Thanks to the SIB, I had the opportunity to support a high-impact project, whose results were both ambitious and measurable, and recoup my investment to help similar projects grow. Sustainable and impactful, this investment made a lot of sense for me.”

Alexandra Boël, Social investor in the SIB


The final results

The aim of an Impact Bond is to enable a high impact, while letting investors be rewarded for their investments. With DUO for a JOB, the SIB demonstrated just that. Within 3 years, the SIB led to:


  • 322 duos created, meeting the SIB expected results

  • 133 job placements for DUO’s mentees

  • 42% of the mentees found a job within 12 months, doing 1.28x better than the employment rate of the control group overseen by Actiris (32% on average)

  • €2,610 cost of programme per job created

  • €760,000 total savings generated via the SIB (i.e. 2,1x the total cost of program)

  • 4% IRR, average annual return for the investors

“We are so happy with the results of this first Social Impact Bond in Belgium, not only for the positive impact on those young immigrants who found a job, but also as it is a great example of win-win-win for three parties not used to work together: private investors, the public sector and the social sector. Difficult social problems require innovative partnerships."

François de Borchgrave, Partner, KOIS Brussels


For more info on DUO for a JOB, visit https://www.duoforajob.be/

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