Mike Belinsky and Avnish Gungadurdoss: Making a Change with Impact Bonds

Social change can be achieved in several ways – and Mike Belinsky and Avnish Gungadurdoss have found an innovative way to do make a difference. Belinsky and Gungadurdoss are two of the co-founders of Instiglio, an organization that uses charitable dollars in getting favorable results via so-called impact bonds.

Basically, investors give the funds to a non-government organization, which will then be repaid by a government agency or a foundation with an agreed interest when the goals are met. Instiglio, the word for “incentives” in Esperanto, is now an active organization in projects designed to educate girls, boost job opportunities, and improve chronic degenerative diseases, among others, in diverse countries including Mexico, India, Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile. In 2014, it has mobilized $28 million for assistance provided to 30,000 people in these areas.

Eddy, a co-founder of Instiglio, developed its business plan with Belinksy and Gungadurdoss; the plan was the application of social impact bonds to public innovation and international development. They subsequently won the prestigious 2012 Accenture Public Service Innovation Award after submitting the business plan to the Harvard Innovation Challenge; the rewards included a $10,000 cash prize and a 3-month residency at the Harvard Innovation Lab.

The trio then conducted an international market study, which identified the regions best suited for the social impact bonds with the results being Colombia. Instiglio’s first project was at Antioquia, Colombia’s mountainous region in the northwest, where the group may not have been successful in implementing the bonds but it taught them valuable lessons – what, when and how to use the bonds.

Instiglio, however, drew the Inter-American Development Bank’s interest, which launched a fund to support the impact bonds. Today, the organization has expanded beyond Colombia with an international donor paying for the results.

Belinsky, a co-founder and partner, has experience in corporate strategy, economic consulting and social enterprise. Gungadurdoss has experience in managing innovative NGO projects. Both have been awarded the Echoing Green fellowship in recognition of their work with Instiglio.

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