Estimated duration
4 years
Estimated total value
The Rockefeller Foundation; Yunus Social Business Global Initiatives

Social Success Note to Leverage Social Good Financing


In 2015, Yunus Social Business committed to pilot the Social Success Note (SSN). Developed in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, the SSN is an innovative, results-based financing instrument that addresses the investment gap for impact-oriented SMEs and social businesses. The note will achieve this by pricing social outcomes and transferring the value of these social outcomes in the form of an additional return from an outcome payer (philanthropic entity) to a mainstream investor, if and only if the social business investment delivers those social outcomes. Learnings from the pilot will be shared with the broader impact community in the hopes of catalyzing a SSN ecosystem that would allow mainstream capital to adequately fund social businesses relative to what traditional internal rate of return (IRR) investment hurdle rates would allow.


Yunus Social Business and The Rockefeller Foundation commit to create the first demonstrable pilot of the SSN, with the aim of ultimately catalyzing the creation of a SSN ecosystem.

Yunus Social Business accelerates and finances social businesses across seven countries, enabling entrepreneurs to solve social problems in a financially self-sustainable way. Over the period of the commitment, it will leverage its network to identify the most appropriate partners (social business, outcome payer, and investor) for the pilot. Yunus Social Business will also structure and implement the transaction. Learnings from the pilot will be shared with the broader impact community to catalyze a SSN ecosystem that would allow mainstream capital to adequately fund social businesses in comparison to what traditional internal rate of return (IRR) investment hurdle rates would allow.

Apart from funding this effort, The Rockefeller Foundation will leverage its expertise (both technical and legal) and influence to help realize the proof-of-concept and scaling of this innovative financing solution. The Rockefeller Foundation will also actively explore the possibility of being an outcome payer in the first pilot, as well as pathways for scaling the SSN more broadly through institutional structures.

Building on the financial instrument that Yunus Social Business (YSB) has been developing in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, here are the following steps to implement the pilot:

Step 1: Final Scoping of the SSN and Selection of the Recipient Social Business
July 2015 – September 2015
Tasks: Frame final overall structure of the Social Success Note; In-depth interviews with experts and legal counselors; Select first deal for pilot implementation by assessing the need for funding through the SSN, the fit with The Rockefeller Foundation’s sectors of intervention, the monetary value of the social outcomes and the ease of monitoring them – portfolio used: nine YSB social businesses spread over six countries (Albania, Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, India, Uganda); Design the SSN communication plan and funding strategy.
Deliverables: Written briefs on all partners and industry expert interviews; Memos detailing potential deals; Recommendations on legal framing and setup.

Step 2: Prepare for Pilot
October 2015 – January 2016
Tasks: Coordination of all the parties (social business, outcome payer, and YSB team); Setting of the additional yield offered by the outcome payer; engagement with investors; Detailed roadmap writing; Identification of the independent evaluator.

Deliverables: Final investment memo; Design incentive/ risk frameworks; Write and agree on Terms and Conditions Sheet with core implementation partners; Draft legal contracts for outcome payer and investors; Approved pilot implementation roadmap; Compelling marketing material.

Step 3 : Launch Pilot
February 2016-June 2016
Tasks: Write contractual agreement(s); Implement agreed upon legal structure
Deliverables: Deal implemented; Selected social business is financed; Contracts are in place.

Step 4: Evaluate Pilot
July 2016-June 2018
Tasks: Implement impact monitoring framework in partnership with the selected independent evaluator; Follow closely deal performance on a monthly basis; Evaluate actual performance of SSN deal and first impact delivered after two years; Draw learnings from first SSN deal structure and potential for replicating the SSN deal structure.
Deliverables: Execution memo on SSN pilot; Experience report on SSN pilot and learning.


Across the world, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) lack access to finance. With 50 to 250 employees, they are too small for domestic commercial banks and too large for microfinance institutions. They experience an enormous financing gap, or “missing middle,” estimated to range between $2.1 trillion and $2.5 trillion in developing countries alone. For impact-oriented SMEs, the financing gap is even more acute as these enterprises look to achieve both a social and financial return which may, in certain circumstances, come into conflict.

Money, however, is not the problem. There is an estimated $210 trillion invested commercially by institutional and retail investors around the world. Over recent years, a variety of innovative financing tools, including results-based financing, have emerged to help channel some of this capital to achieve greater social outcomes. The most prominent example of this movement is the emergence of Social and Development Impact Bonds (SIBs and DIBs) that seek to mobilize commercial capital to fund proven social programs, with a promise to be paid back by government if these programs successfully achieve desired social outcomes.

Building on this emerging trend, The Rockefeller Foundation and Yunus Social Business are developing the Social Success Note (SSN) – an innovative pay-for-success financing mechanism that addresses the investment gap for impact-oriented SMEs and social businesses. Through a new alignment of incentives and interests among entrepreneurs, investors, and philanthropic outcome payers, SSNs hold the promise of addressing the missing-middle financing gap for impact SMEs by mobilizing commercial capital into these businesses while overcoming the long-entrenched trade-off between social impact and financial return.

Progress Update

May 2016

The initial project plan consisted of four steps:
Step 1: Final scoping of the SSN and selection of the recipient Social Business (accomplished)
Step 2: Prepare for pilot (ongoing)
Step 3: Launch pilot
Step 4: Evaluate pilot

Yunus Social Business and The Rockefeller Foundation succeeded in designing and structuring the deal for the pilot project of the Social Success. This pilot will be a $500,000 deal to be launched in Uganda with a social business providing drinking water to children.

Yunus Social Business is now in the process of doing the due diligence of the selected social business in order to produce the investment memo, all the while preparing marketing material. The draft of legal contracts for all parties will start in the next few weeks.

Partnership Opportunities

Yunus Social Business and The Rockefeller Foundation invite collaborators to participate in the pilot. General industry feedback on the SSN concept is welcome, as are specific industry best practices inputs on technical points such as measuring outcomes, creating payment-outcome models, etc. The team is also seeking investors and supporters interested in the SSN pilot or further development. Finally, the team would welcome media support to disseminate information about the SSN.

To collaborators who would like to participate in the pilot, Yunus Social Business offers expertise as creator and developer of the SSN, and access to its network of investment-ready social businesses, local teams and legal infrastructure. In turn, The Rockefeller Foundation offers insights around philanthropic engagement, deal structuring (both legal and technical), potential financial support, and co-branding opportunities.

After the completion of the pilot, Yunus Social Business and The Rockefeller Foundation will share their learnings with the broader industry in order to catalyze an SSN ecosystem.

NOTE: This Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action is made, implemented, and tracked by the partners listed. CGI is a program dedicated forging new partnerships, providing technical support, and elevating compelling models with potential to scale. CGI does not directly fund or implement these projects.