Industry Insights

Social purpose organizations, a massive $50 million fund has your name on it

There’s a new social finance program in town and we’re giving it three big cheers.

Ramp Communications

Categories: Industry Insights

November 22, 2019

There’s a new social finance program in town and we’re giving it three big cheers. Employment and Social Development Canada’s Investment Readiness Fund is a two-year pilot program with $50 million committed to social innovation and social purpose organizations that are using community-led solutions to solve our country’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

Social purpose organizations (also known as SPOs) are non-profits, charities, co-operatives, social enterprises, and for-profits with a social mission (learn more about the social purpose economy). Through the government’s new Investment Readiness Program, they’ll gain access to funds and increase their capacity to participate in the social finance market, access more investment and contract opportunities, and catalyze innovation cycles.

How it work:

The program relies on community partners, initiatives, and service providers to deliver funding opportunities, provide expertise, and increase the investment readiness of eligible social purpose organizations. These partners include:

Readiness support partners:

A big chunk of the funds will be distributed through ‘readiness support partners’ who will provide access to financing on behalf of the Government as well as other investment opportunities. Readiness support partners include Community Foundations of Canada, Chantier de l’économie sociale, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, and the National Association of Friendship Centres.

Expert service providers:

Some of the funds will also be used to grow and enhance expert service provider programs that help SPOs become more investment-ready. These providers include our valued clients, LIFT Philanthropy Partners, and the Social Enterprise Ecosystem Project (S4ES), as well as the McConnell Foundation (Innoweave), Social Venture Connexion (SVX), and Raven Indigenous Capital Partners.

Ecosystem mobilization initiatives:

Some of the funds will also support organizations that address system-level gaps in social research and development, knowledge mobilization, impact measurement, building the readiness of social finance intermediaries, for-profit engagement and more. These partners are: Imagine Canada, The Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), the McConnell Foundation, the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci), New Market Funds, the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), Startup Canada, Sauder Social Innovation Academy (UBC), and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

Three ringed diagram: outer ring "ecosystem mobilization initiatives," inner ring "readiness support partners," core "social purpose organizations (or SPOs)," then and arrow and "expert service providers"
Diagram courtesy of The Government of Canada.

What to apply? Here’s what we know so far:

Social purpose organizations can apply for grants and funding through readiness support partners starting December 02, 2019. Funds are then unlocked to purchase expert services from partnered expert service providers. The idea is that this approach will strengthen the entire social purpose ecosystem while also meeting the unique needs of Canadian SPOs as they move along the investment readiness continuum.

The investment readiness continuum:

• Early-stage innovation (i.e. social research and development, etc.)

• Strategic impact focus (i.e. feasibility analysis; impact measurement, etc.)

• Impact sustainability (i.e. financial sustainability; accessing outcome-based funding, etc.)

• Financial resilience (i.e. revenue-generating; capitalization structure, etc.)

• Investor ready (i.e. investee technical skills, managed risk, etc.)

For social entrepreneurs and for-profit mission-focused businesses, this is a great opportunity to access funds to scale and nurture innovative ideas. For charities and nonprofits looking to diversify revenue sources, this program can help facilitate the early-stage innovation needed to develop commercially viable ideas. Looking for more information? Contact one of the Investment Readiness Fund partners listed above. Need help communicating your impact? Send us a note.

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