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Last week, a small social experiment conceived 10 years ago to help 2,000 young delinquents in Peterborough, in eastern England, paid off – literally.During the last Labour government, I worked with one of Britain's greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Sir Ronald Cohen, to create what became the world's first Social Impact Bond. Within months, Social Finance – another Cohen-initiated social enterprise – had raised 5 million pounds ($6.6 million) from 17 trusts and foundations to launch the bond.Over five years of operation, One Service offered post-release support for a period of up to 12 months to two cohorts of 1,000 male prisoners who had served short sentences.Along the way, Peterborough did indeed show the world. Today, social impact bonds are mobilizing 300 million pounds of investment in a wide range of projects. The Cohen plan is even bolder and covers the entire field of social problems in urgent need of amelioration. He foresees a tipping point by 2020, with billions of dollars in new investment in bonds coming from the world's top 100 institutional investors, 50 foundations, and 50 private companies.
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