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This is the second part of the interview with Nadine Pequeneza about her documentary on social impact bonds. She shared with us parts of the film she wished she could have kept in, her greatest learnings and what she thinks the future holds for SIBs. Read the first part of the interview here.

On 25th July we will be hosting a screening at Phoenix Picturehouse followed by a panel discussion and drinks reception at Blavatnik School of Government. We have speakers from a range of perspectives so expect a lively debate! Please take a look here to get your tickets.

How did you choose the case studies you did and why? How important was it for you to focus on personal stories?

 I wanted to achieve a few different things with the case studies. I wanted to show the life cycle of a SIB so I had to include more than one as they play out over a long period of time. I felt I had to get one in the design stage and another that was being implemented and evaluated. I also wanted to show how SIBs were used in a variety of social areas, two of the most common being homelessness and early childhood education.  

Another thing I wanted to capture was the expanse of people involved, from 3 year olds to people in their 40s and 50s. The reason I chose Chicago in particular was because it had such a long-term repayment, over 16 or 17 years. I thought it would be interesting to look at how they were making the connection between year 1 at preschool and a payment 17 years later once the child graduates high school. 

Is there anything you had to edit out which you felt was a shame to leave out?

I couldn’t keep it all in as it would have been overwhelming to the audience. Most people who watch it say they need to watch it twice because there is a lot of new information and concepts. There are some SIBs that operate in a very different way and I do wish I could have included them. One of the first ones I filmed was in Saskatchewan in Canada about children on the edge of care. There was a private investor working alongside a credit union and the both said they intended to reinvest their money earned from the SIB. I wish I could have included SIBs where this was the intention and those involved were keen to shift public policy and service design toward prevention. 

What are the biggest things you learned when doing this documentary?

‘You’ve seen one SIB, you’ve seen one SIB!’ That was the best quote I got from the Brookings Institution conference I went to. They are different everywhere, the way they are designed, applied, structured and financed. One of the SIBs in Saskatchewan, working to support students at risk of dropping out of high school, is aiming for an 80% graduation rate. Another one in Chicago that is working with children to get them ready for kindergarten will provide payments once 50% of children are ready. So, when you look at the variation in terms of targets, returns, end goals and whether the SIB will be scaled up or whether public policy will step in and take over, it’s so different from place to place. I think the SIB hasn’t really been defined yet. 

Where do you see the future of SIBs? 

It’s really hard to say as at some of the screenings of the film panellists have said they think SIBs are a flash in the pan or a blip on the radar and they will disappear in a couple of years. Other panellists, those involved in government, have said they are committed to following this though and the primary motivation is to have an evidence-based policy framework. 

 One thing that Mildred Warner said during her interview, it’s not in the film, but she said it was very appealing to politicians because they can publicise something that they are doing, but not have to pay for it upfront. So, politically it can be a very attractive proposition. However, on a societal view, it is not necessarily the best approach. 

 So, what SIBs end up looking like in the and what outcome-based contracting actually means, is yet to be defined. 

What are your plans for sharing the documentary?

The premier of the film was in Saskatchewan in Canada on May 8thand we have only shown the film twice. We are doing special event screenings throughout the year and there will be two screenings in Australia and we’ve had requests from the US and Columbia. It is going to be broadcast in Canada in the fall on television and we are looking at international broadcasting.

 In my opinion, when screening the film, panel discussions are a good idea. As the film shares many points of view, it raises a lot of questions for people. It is important to give people an opportunity to discuss.

On that note, we would like to invite you to The GO Lab screening and panel discussion of the Invisible Heart on 25th July. Find out more and get your tickers here.