Getting Ontario Readyfor the Social Finance Fund – Candian CED Network

Authors: Denyse Guy and Carolyn Pletsch, Guy & Associates Advisory Group: Michael Toye, Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet); Liz Sutherland, Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN); Peter Frampton, Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF); Elspeth McKay, Operation Come Home; Rosalind Lockyer, PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise (PARO)

Executive Summary

In the fall of 2018, the federal government announced an $805 million investment ($755 M for a Social Finance Fund and an additional $50 M for an Investment and Readiness Stream). It was a move that galvanized the Canadian social economy ecosystem and captured the imagination of many community members.1 This initiative was established in the 2015 mandate letters to the Ministers of Family, Children and Social Development and Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

Their responsibility was to develop a Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy for Canada so that it would contribute to the development of an inclusive society. To facilitate this goal, a SI/SF Co-Creation Steering Group was appointed and asked to prepare recommendations for the SI/SF Strategy. In August 2018, its twelve recommendations were released in a report entitled Inclusive Innovation: New Ideas and New Partnerships for Strong Communities.

Currently, the focus is on the Investment and Readiness Stream which will support social purpose organizations to improve their readiness for investment, and by so doing, successfully participate in the social finance market and provide creative solutions for the most challenging issues facing vulnerable populations. There are concerns that the resources made available in this initiative need to be delivered in ways that reach and effectively support the grassroots social economy organizations working directly with vulnerable populations.

This has driven convening organizations to undergo processes like this. The outreach and engagement reflected in this report acknowledges different perspectives about barriers and solutions. The sector has no shortage of innovative ideas to develop and is eager to share plans for new projects and create new partnerships. There is no doubt that the federal contributions announced in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement are timely, and represent a major opportunity to strengthen the ecosystem and supports for the social economy, including social innovation and social finance.

This survey was one of the key activities of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network’s engagement process to raise awareness of the Social Finance Fund and hear a range of grassroots perspectives. This process was guided by Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles. Through this research, completed with the assistance of 150 social economy leaders (respondents), we gathered ground intelligence on what sector members were thinking about and planning for in terms of projects and partnerships. We learned how best to support grassroots community groups. Through this process, we also mobilized knowledge and raised awareness of the Social Finance Fund.

Survey development took place over a two week period. As wide a range of respondents as possible was sought in the limited time and resources available. The completed contact list for potential respondents was 60 organizations, eventually producing a total of more than 150 respondents. The timing of the survey was during the period of February 21 to March 28. Social innovation and social finance approaches were sampled.

We found that in addition to the four approaches itemized in the survey, the respondents were practicing other approaches. Respondents’ needs were identified by the six interconnected areas recommended by the Co-Creation Steering Group. These areas were ranked to assess priorities. All six interconnected areas ranked closely in ratings. This supports the theory that all six are legitimate needs. Respondents identified barriers and solutions as part of the six interconnected areas including capacity building, funding and capital, market access, policy and regulatory environment, evidence and knowledge sharing, plus awareness and mobilization. This report summarizes many of their views.

What we also discovered is that there is no shortage of innovative ideas or interest in developing new services/tools. Social innovation is alive and well in the social economy sector. However, this initiative must have a unified strategic plan and clarify roles in the ecosystem. Additionally, new projects were shared that would benefit from Investment Readiness supports, as well as accessible capital for investment. We also confirmed the current key assets in Ontario that support social purpose organizations. The social enterprise ecosystem is well positioned to accelerate, scale and grow a marketplace that puts people and the planet first.

Source and full report here:

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