What’s new at the Centre
Here are some highlights for our current quarter:
The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing (Centre) is proud to launch its quarterly newsletter, which will provide progress updates on the Centre’s work to build the social finance marketplace in Canada. In this first edition, we will highlight major updates from the past several months, organized by our four pillar areas: research and public policy, market and product development, impact measurement, and education and engagement.
Research and public policy
The Centre is involved in a number of research initiatives.
In March, the Centre produced an in–depth white paper and tool kit on Social Finance for Supportive Housing, which was co–authored by Adam Spence and Hadley Nelles of the Housing Services Corporation, and commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The white paper, titled Blended Financing for Impact: The Opportunity for Social Finance in Supportive Housing, was launched on March 21 at a public webinar. To download the paper and read more details, visit http://socialfinance.ca/housing.
The Centre has also undertaken significant work to grow the outcomes–based financing market in Canada and received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to undertake social impact bond (SIB) incubation in Ontario. The Centre is supporting the development of a pipeline of SIB demonstration projects, facilitating deals and building the support ecosystem.
Market and product development
The Centre has been working hard to build the pipeline of impact investing deals. It has made significant progress on four initiatives: supporting budding impact investing initiatives through the Finance Lab, providing ventures with capital raising opportunities at Impact Venture Pitch Fairs, continuing to develop the SVX platform, and building the network of B Corps in Canada.
The Centre’s Finance Lab provides assistance to systems–changing initiatives in Canada that are looking to employ social finance tools. At the 2012 Social Finance Forum, it provided advisors and a platform for six initiatives to present their work to a packed session.
The Centre hosted its first Impact Venture Pitch Fair at the 2012 Social Finance Forum, where 15 entrepreneurs had the chance to pitch their ventures to over 50 impact investors, after receiving pitch development support from seven expert advisors. In March, the Centre held its second Pitch Fair with 7 ventures pitching to over 35 investors. Kevin Doyle Jones, convener of the Social Capital Markets conference and founder of Good Capital and the Hub Bay Area, gave the keynote address.
The Centre is continuing to work with regulatory authorities to develop the SVX infrastructure and platform to connect impact ventures, investors and intermediaries.
The Canadian B Corp Hub is under active development: there are now 65 B Corps in four provinces across Canada. In March, Vancouver-based Alterrus became the first publicly traded company to successfully complete its B Corp certification.
Coming up on April 12–14, the Centre, in collaboration with The Natural Step and Green Living, will host the very first “B Corp Alley” at the Green Living Show, which takes in over 40,000 visitors over the weekend. The B Corp Alley will profile Canadian B Corps and inform consumers and business owners about the B Corp movement.
Education and engagement
Education and engagement activities run through each pillar area at the Centre, and are bolstered by the creation of educational products and convening opportunities for sector engagement. These include Social Finance Connects, the Social Finance Awards, Social Finance Forum and Knowledge Hub.
The Centre’s flagship engagement initiative has been the annual Social Finance Forum. The 2012 Forum brought together over 480 delegates to attend 14 workshop sessions delivered by 70 presenters and facilitators across Canada. Attendees are invited to provide feedback on their experience.
This year, the Centre will co-chair the Social Enterprise World Forum, taking place in Calgary from October 1–3, 2013, hosted by the Trico Foundation. The Centre will produce the Impact Investing stream, which will feature breakout sessions on scaling impact, early stage social ventures, inclusive economies, the role of intermediaries and finance solution labs.
In February, the Knowledge Hub was launched in beta mode on the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing website to provide a powerful database of information for the sector. It features a Sector Map, Resource Hub, Fund Directory, Guide to Social Finance, and will soon feature Starting Point Modules curated for various stakeholder groups. The Knowledge Hub is a collaborative platform, and we encourage feedback and contributions. Visit http://impactinvesting.marsdd.com/knowledge–hub/.
In 2012, the Centre launched a monthly webinar series, Social Finance Connects, which has hosted nine webinars to date, and attracted hundreds of participants from across the country. Each webinar is focused on a particular topic and features a guest speaker. All presentations are recorded and will soon be available for public access on the Knowledge Hub. This quarter’s webinars focused on Social Metrics, Outcome Evaluation and Social Return on Investment; Social Impact Measurement Use Among Canadian Impact Investors; and The Legislative and Regulatory Environment for Social Enterprise and Social Finance in Canada.
Sign up today for the next edition of Social Finance Connects on April 25, 2013. Guest speaker Ian Bragg will join us to present findings from the Canadian Socially Responsible Investment Review 2012.
SocialFinance.ca continues to serve as the premier online community hub for impact investing and social finance in Canada, and celebrated two recent milestones. It has published over 1,000 blog posts since October 2008, contributed by over 200 Writers who are part of the conversation.
Operations and team updates
In order to grow the talent base for impact investing in Canada, the Centre has launched its Fellowship program, which offers individuals exposure to the emerging impact investing market in Canada and provides hands–on opportunities to work with stakeholders in a variety of strategic and operational roles. It will be announcing four Fellows in the summer. You can learn more on the Centre website.
Social finance in Canada and abroad
The last few months have seen a flurry of activity in the social finance and impact investing marketplace, with a number of important developments. Here are the top headlines:
In the 2013 federal budget, Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government of Canada has reaffirmed its support for social finance, declaring that “The Government will bring together key players in the non–profit and private sectors to develop investment–worthy ideas and tap the potential of the social finance marketplace to promote economic growth and prosperity.”
The federal government also announced renewed investment in affordable housing and funding to address homelessness, as well as a new, temporary First–Time Donor’s Super Credit for first–time claimants of the Charitable Donations Tax Credit.
In November 2012, Hon. Diane Finley, the Minister of Human Resources & Skills Development Canada, announced a National Call for Concepts on Social Finance. Over 150 concepts have been received and the Call is now closed.
Nova Scotia introduced the Community Interest Companies Act in November 2012. This will allow businesses formed under the Companies Act to be designated as community interest companies, with characteristics of both businesses and nonprofits. The new legislation marks the second step in the province’s social enterprise strategy, following the announcement of $2 million in funding to support small business loans for social enterprises in April 2012.
Read the text of the act here.
The government of British Columbia proclaimed March 27, 2013 to be known as “Social Enterprise Day”, continuing a tradition of strong government support for the social enterprise sector in British Columbia. The date coincided with the fifth annual Social Enterprise Day hosted by Enterprising Non–Profits.
Read the proclamation here.
Ontario launched a Micro–lending for Women in Ontario program, which will provide close to 400 microloans over the next two years. Over 800 low–income women will receive not just loans but also business readiness supports and financial skills training.
Read more about the micro–lending program.
The Social Investment Organization published a new report showing that socially responsible investment (SRI) assets in Canada continue to climb, showing growth in virtually every major market segment and outpacing growth of total assets under management. The Canadian Socially Responsible Investment Review 2012 also reveals that impact investing assets have grown to a total of $5.3 billion, or a 20% increase since the last review in 2010.
The full report and news release are available here.
Human Resources & Skills Development Canada and Purpose Capital published a report and guidebook on social impact measurement in Canada.
The report, titled Social Impact Measurement Use Among Canadian Impact Investors, offers an overview of the needs and priorities of Canadian impact investors as they relate to social impact measurement. The Guidebook for Impact Investors: Impact Measurement provides investors with a toolkit to support their use of social metrics.
Download the reports from Purpose Capital.
Tap into the conversation at SocialFinance.ca
SocialFinance.ca has been privileged to host a great conversation on impact investing over the last few months. The top posts in 2013 so far have been:
- On the Impact Investing Horizon: Six impact investing initiatives to watch for in 2013 by Adam Spence
- Meet Social Spark: A non–profit organization that empowers today’s youth to tackle societal problems by Sissi Wang
- “Risk Capital”: Islamic private equity in a globalized world by Shahzad Siddiqui and Mujir Muneeruddin
Interested in more? You could take a look at Syeda Zaki’s primer on crowd funding in Canada, or Kevin Dorse’s look at how credit unions contribute to social finance, or Sara Bartolomeo’s excellent profile of the West End Food Co–op and their community bond.
What would you like to see more of on SocialFinance.ca? Would you like to be part of the conversation? We’d love to bring you into the community. Email Managing Editor, Nabeel Ahmed at firstname.lastname@example.org for more.
Centre for Entrepreneurship Education & Development (CEED) Social Enterprise Event
Wednesday, April 10
Antigonish, NS and Halifax, NS
A one-day interactive workshop with subject matter experts and mentors in the field of social enterprise and entrepreneurship.
Investing in Fishing Communities
A working conference on social impact investing and sustainable fishing communities.
The Green Living Show
Canada’s largest consumer show dedicated to all things green, featuring the B Corp Alley.
Trends in Socially Responsible Investment in Canada
Thursday, April 25
Social Finance Connects: Webinar on the growth of socially responsible investment assets in Canada.
Women in Social Business
Monday, May 6
The first women’s social business event in Ottawa from the Women in Leadership Foundation.
Food Farms Fish and Finance
Exploring the delicious, diverse and delicate potential for social finance and impact investing in our food system
Partnering For Global Impact 2013
Partnering for Global Impact® (PGI) is a landmark initiative to facilitate transactions in impact investing and philanthropy through one–to–one meetings.