Website of the Austrian Social Ministry

Social Impact Bond

A Social Impact Bond (SIB) is a form of cooperation and funding which brings together the public sector and private (non-profit) investors - the repayment of funds contributed by the investors and the payment of a target bonus will depend on whether a certain social problem was solved (in a better way). Payments will only be made if the social targets are achieved.
In its work programme 2013-2018, the Austrian federal government committed itself to testing innovative social-policy approaches by way of SIBs; the goal is to meet current social-policy challenges, close gaps and strengthen social cohesion in Austria through new initiatives.

How does a Social Impact Bond work?
Project budget   Intermediary Target bonus in case of
Project partners      Management agreement 

Report: Targets

 Evaluation  Success report  

A Social Impact Bond is based on an agreement with the public sector providing for a bonus when predetermined and objectively measureable targets have been reached. Implementation of the project is funded by the so-called prefinancers who/which will obtain a predefined target bonus, provided that the project is successful. The problem area is exclusively identified by the public sector, which also selects the target group and determines the content- and funding-related framework and the central criteria for success. Specialised organisations such as non-profit associations take charge of the operational side. An intermediary is responsible for soliciting prefinancing, for coordinating and appointing the organisations in charge of operational aspects, and for monitoring the projects.

The overall SIB project was initiated by the Ministry of Social Affairs in cooperation with the Land of Upper Austria and the Ministry of Education and Women's Issues.

The Problem: Poverty and marginalisation among women affected by violence

SIB Model Project "Economic and social empowerment of women affected by violence"

One out of five women in Austria is exposed to violence in their near social surroundings. Every year, women's shelters support around 1,700 women and 1,600 children who are also afflicted, and roughly 15,000 women and girls are assisted by one of Austria's Domestic Abuse Intervention Centres. More than 16,000 children witness domestic violence.

Women who are affected by violence are at a disadvantage in terms of job opportunities and participation in public life, they are economically and thus socially dependent on their partners:

  • Around 2/3 of those affected who take refuge in women's shelters are jobless, they only receive child care allowance, unemployment benefit/social assistance, means-tested minimum income or no income at all.
  • Roughly 10% lose their jobs because they take refuge at/move into a women's shelter.
  • More than 40% have dropped out of school or an apprenticeship, or only completed compulsory education.
  • Due to their economic dependency, around 25% return to the persons who abuse them.
  • About 20% seek protection at a women's shelter twice or more often.

Violence in near social surroundings also has a direct or indirect impact on the children of those affected:

  • About 1/3 of these children are directly affected by violence.
  • 2/3 are considered by their mothers to be co-affected.
  •  Experiencing violence leads to a higher risk of poverty and marginalisation - the "cycle of violence" is perpetuated by the following generation.

All these factors make it harder for women to work or return to the working life, which would help them break violent relationships with lasting effect. Violence-related health impacts and traumatisation lead to more sick leaves and work absences, increasing the risk of job loss.

According to estimates, violence against women costs approx. 80 million euro every year, i.a. in health care, the judicial system and law enforcement, as well as due to inability to work, unemployment and the need for social welfare benefits.

The Target: Economic and social empowerment of women affected by violence

The pilot project aims at offering economic independence, and thus a lasting exit from violent structures, to women affected by violence by finding them long-term employment in the first labour market that secures their livelihood, and by helping them keep and safeguard their jobs.

Implementation measures

  • Suitable support is tailored to individual needs, using existing public employment service (AMS) offers and programmes in close cooperation with the PES and women's organisations.
  • The project focuses on integrated, multi-perspective and individualised support and protection, following through with women throughout the project. Accommodation, transport and a stable and advancing child care environment are ensured.
  • Cooperation with enterprises improves job search chances and raises awareness in business for the issue of violence against women.

The Social Impact Bond pilot project, located in Upper Austria, is based on an agreement between a non-profit limited-liability company and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

During the project run from September 2015 to August 2018 a defined number of women affected by violence is to be found employment to secure their livelihood and to be helped in keeping in their jobs for at least a year.

"Juvat gemeinnützige Gesellschaft mbH" has assumed the function of the intermediary within the Social Impact Bond and does so free of charge. The non-profit company negotiated and entered into the agreement with the Ministry of Social Affairs, solicited prefinancing, brought the operational project partners on board and placed the order for evaluation, which was selected jointly with the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Two project partners - the Domestic Abuse Intervention Centre of Upper Austria and the Women's Shelter of Linz - are in charge of practical implementation. They bundle local target-group specific modules of activities, including support and assistance to women affected by violence, promoting training, vocational guidance and job search, and cooperate with the Austrian public employment service (AMS) and suitable organisations.

The areas of activity and the financial framework are set by the public sector - in this case, the Ministry of Social Affairs. This way, the Ministry continues to control the fulfilment of its sovereign public service tasks, acting in accordance with the idea of impact-oriented administration.