UniCredit SIB advances social impact finance measurement standards with a dedicated system

The measurement & evaluation system has been developed with the think tank Human Foundation, to drive greater outcomes of social impact finance projects.

In line with the mission of UniCredit’s Social Impact Banking (SIB) initiative, to concretely contribute to building a fairer and more inclusive society, SIB has developed a new measurement & evaluation (M&E) system together with the think tank Human Foundation, focused on advancing social impact finance measurement standards and maximising the related direct and indirect social outcomes.

The dedicated M&E system allows UniCredit SIB to consistently monitor and evaluate its social impact finance activities across all 11 Group markets where SIB is active: Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia.

The aim is to track performance and the impact generated by comparing expected and achieved results on a continued basis through a tailored framework that also accounts for the characteristics of the different beneficiaries of specific projects. The Human Foundation think tank was chosen as a partner for the development of the M&E system thanks to their work in promoting innovative solutions to societal issues.

Laura Penna, Head of Group Social Impact Banking at UniCredit, commented: “At UniCredit, ESG is part of our DNA and this includes a strong social commitment in all our markets. Our Social Impact Banking programme helps us drive tangible positive social change in our communities and in order to ensure we are always growing our impact and making a real difference, we need to be able to track and measure social impact finance outcomes in a concrete and uniform way. This new measurement & evaluation system has been designed to help us do this effectively as well as make an important contribution for increased transparency and common standards in the wider social impact finance sector.”

The purpose of social impact finance is to create tangible positive social benefits through the financing of projects and initiatives that have the potential to deliver such outcomes. The sector has significantly grown worldwide in recent years[1] and we expect this trend to accelerate driven by the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

This context increases the need for clear and common measurement methods to ensure the credibility of impact finance activities and avoid the risk of “impact washing”[2]. It is also important for the beneficiaries of impact finance programmes to guarantee a level playing field, agreement on specific KPIs for each project and increase transparency in the selection process. 

UniCredit’s social impact finance offer is aimed at supporting social innovation as a driver of change through loans at advantageous conditions as well as providing financial training and access to relevant partnerships and networks. A “pay for success” mechanism is integral to the offer to allow for additional economic benefits to the project / initiative based on the successful achievement of agreed social impact goals. In addition, UniCredit’s Social Impact Banking programme is also committed to inclusive finance, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses through microcredit and to financial education to encourage greater financial knowledge and social inclusion that can empower active citizenship.

UniCredit’s Social Impact Banking has also recently been recognised by the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) with their Data Transparency Label 2021 for the continued commitment to data transparency regarding social impact finance.

To find more information on the M&E system please refer to the SIB Position Paper here.

For more information on UniCredit Social Impact Banking, please see here.


About UniCredit
UniCredit is a simple successful pan-European Commercial Bank, with a fully plugged in CIB, delivering a unique Western, Central and Eastern European network to its extensive client franchise. UniCredit offers both local and international expertise to its clients, providing them with unparalleled access to leading banks in its 13 core markets through its European banking network: Italy, Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Leveraging on an international network of representative offices and branches, UniCredit serves clients in another 16 countries worldwide.

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[1] Total impact investing market value was estimated at USD 502 billion as of end of 2018 (GIIN, 2019).

[2] “Impact washing” refers to the process of any bank, firm or fund using the social / environmental impact narrative for reputational and market purposes, but not contributing to the achievement of any tangible positive impact (IDS, 2019).