About the Centre

The Centre for Impact Investing is a social finance hub and project incubator that acts as a neutral collaboration space for all sectors — government, community and private — to strengthen our collective ability to mobilize private capital for public good.

We lead and support the development of impact investing in Canada by supporting the following types of activities:

  • Support the development of new financial products for investment.
  • Enable efficient market growth avenues for investors, social ventures and funds that deliver both a social or environmental benefit and an economic return.
  • Conduct research to support a positive and  empowering public policy environment.
  • Advance the use of impact measurement tools and strategies for the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
  • Provide exceptional educational and convening opportunities to advance the sector in Canada.

The Centre builds on the foundational work of the  MaRS Discovery District and Social Innovation Generation, including the landmark report “Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good (PDF),” which was prepared by the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance.

The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing wants to hear from you.  Please contact us through our Stay-in-Touch form if you have any questions, suggestions or ideas.

The Centre aims to:

  • Strengthen the emerging impact investing marketplace by establishing frameworks that more efficiently connect people and their innovative ideas to private capital.
  • Enable people and local communities to tackle complex societal problems.
  • Foster more resilient communities.

Why create the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing?

From persistent poverty to climate change, we continue to face entrenched social and environmental problems. Fortunately, a growing number of charities, not-for-profit organizations, co-ops and for-profit companies are building business models that tackle these problems. They’re turning to investors for financing to launch and grow innovative new programs, become sustainable and scale their impact.

As a result, new investment opportunities are emerging that offer investors financial returns in addition to positive social and environmental impact. While there is an expanding base of talent and leadership supporting this work, there is currently limited coordination and no clear entry point for the emerging impact investing industry in Canada.

The opportunity to advance impact investing is significant:

  • A shift in thinking is taking place. In recent years, leading Canadian foundations, and private and institutional investors have shown incredible interest in and support for impact investing.
  • Canada boasts a large target investor market. As of 2011, Canada has more than 30 impact funds that hold over $200 million in total assets and a combined portfolio of over 150 individual deals.
  • As of May 2011, the Canadian impact investing market was estimated at $4.45 billion. In 10 years, it is projected to grow to $30 billion.
  • Social ventures have unmet demand for capital. The 2010 Social Finance Census involving 250 social ventures in Ontario indicated that there is $170 million in capital demand, with over 70% of respondents reporting that access to capital presents a major barrier to achieving their mission.
  • Government resources are increasingly constrained. Policy-makers in Canada and around the world are exploring new methods of service delivery and new means of catalyzing private sector funds to support public and social sector initiatives.