Originally published by Employment and Social Development Canada on May 29, 2023
Social purpose organizations, such as social enterprises, non-profits, charities and co‑operatives, are at the forefront of tackling Canada’s persistent social and environmental challenges, and they are key contributors to the Canadian economy. However, social purpose organizations face barriers and systemic biases that exist in the current finance ecosystem.
Today, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, officially launched the $755 million Social Finance Fund, which is a groundbreaking, long-term initiative to advance the growth of the social finance market in Canada. The Social Finance Fund is a foundational element to the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy, along with the Investment Readiness Program and the Social Innovation Advisory Council. Social innovation and social finance plays a fundamental role in tackling persistent challenges like access to affordable housing, food insecurity, and poverty.
By increasing access to flexible financing opportunities in the social finance market, the Social Finance Fund will help social purpose organizations grow, innovate, and enhance their social, economic, and environmental impacts. They will also extend the reach of social finance to underserved populations, sectors, and regions in Canada, including rural and remote communities and the North.
Through a rigorous, competitive and open process, three fund managers were selected to act as investment managers for the Social Finance Fund. They are:
- Boann Social Impact is a new joint venture with the investment fund manager Encasa, and the not-for-profit trust Table of Impact Investment Practitioners, a longstanding community of practice now encompassing over 80 Canadian social finance intermediaries and partners;
- Fonds de finance social – CAP Finance is a network of financial institutions and organizations that are working in Quebec and focused on the social economy and solidarity-based finance. Led by the Réseau d’investissement social du Québec and the Fiducie du Chantier de l’économie sociale, nine key investors are involved in the project. Fonds de finance social – CAP Finance will invest specifically in Quebec; and
- Realize Capital Partners is a collaboration between the impact investment management and advisory firm Rally Assets, and the early-stage venture capital fund manager Relay Ventures.
The fund managers will receive $400 million over the next five years to invest, and are expected to leverage up to another $800 million in private investment to foster the market’s growth and long-term sustainability. This will provide investors with opportunities to engage in socially responsible investment and to direct their capital towards public good initiatives. Funds will be invested in existing or emerging social finance investors, which are financial entities that raise money from investors to make social finance investments, using innovative and complementary strategies to sustainably grow the social finance market and to expand flexible financing opportunities for social purpose organizations.
Fund managers will allocate a minimum of 35% of their investments into initiatives promoting greater social equity, including a minimum of 15% into initiatives promoting greater gender equality. Fonds de finance social – CAP Finance will invest specifically in Quebec, while Boann Social Impact and Realize Capital Partners will invest in the rest of Canada.
The Social Finance Fund will help Canada achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Canada is advancing the SDGs to build a more prosperous, healthy and sustainable future for all with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. By increasing the accessibility and flexibility of financing opportunities in the social finance market, the Social Finance Fund will help social purpose organizations grow, launch new programs, and serve the critical needs of diverse communities in Canada.
“The Social Finance Fund is an innovative and first of its kind program. Through this program, the Government of Canada is investing in, and supporting the growth of, a vibrant social finance market. By investing in the Social Finance Fund, we are enabling social innovators to succeed, as they lead the way in building a more prosperous and inclusive economy that works for all Canadians. I look forward to seeing the positive impact the Social Finance Fund will have for Canadians and local communities. We are looking forward to working with the fund managers, our partners, and stakeholders on this historic milestone, which is a foundational element of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy.”
– Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development
“Through the Social Finance Fund, the Government of Canada is supporting social entrepreneurs and innovators who are tackling the toughest challenges we face as a society. It is about making their big homegrown ideas a reality, and working together to build a Canadian economy that works for everyone. As they access capital through this fund, I look forward to seeing them succeed in scaling the many positive impacts that they create for the benefit of communities across Canada!”
– Ryan Turnbull, Member of Parliament for Whitby
“Boann welcomes the roll-out of this much-anticipated initiative and to working with intermediaries, investors, and communities committed to expanding the reach of impact investment in Canada. Harnessing public, private and philanthropic capital, the ground-breaking Social Finance Fund will amplify efforts to foster more equitable and sustainable economic growth. In plain language, it’s about an economy that’s more green and less mean. It’s about investing in better results for all communities, about enhancing positive environmental and social outcomes. It is about thinking more long-term, more holistically, more ambitiously about achieving triple bottom line impact with capital.”
– Derek Ballentyne, CEO, Boann Social Impact
“Social finance is embedded in Quebec’s DNA. Based on principles of social equity, social finance has been and continues to be a response to the needs of the population. The Social Finance Fund will be an additional lever for social finance intermediaries that want to support collective projects led by social economy entrepreneurs and social purpose organizations whose activities have social, cultural and environmental impacts in addition to their economic impacts. Our organization is proud of the confidence that the Government has shown in us and proud to be contributing to strengthening and transforming the social finance market in Canada, specifically in Quebec.”
– Nathalie Villemure, President, Fonds de finance social – CAP Finance
“This is such a game changer for the social finance market. The government investment has enabled us to create a new fund that will set itself apart by prioritizing positive impact and generating market-rate financial returns, at scale. We are one big step closer to realizing the goal of financial markets creating outcomes that are highly beneficial to both investors and investees.”
– Kelly Gauthier, President, Rally Assets on behalf of Realize Capital Partners
- The Social Finance Fund is a long-term program and will run until March 31, 2039. The majority of the funds are expected to be repaid at the end of the program. The following investment managers were selected:
- Boann will receive $154,129,374 in funding for the period of 2022-23 to 2025-26.
- CAP Finance will receive $89,808,426 in funding for the period of 2022-23 to 2025-26.
- Realize Capital Partners will receive $153,435,625 in funding for the period of 2022-23 to 2025-26.
- Designed through a social equity lens, the Social Finance Fund aims to reduce barriers faced by equity-deserving groups in accessing flexible financing opportunities. Fund managers have committed to the – 30 Challenge and will work toward gender parity (50% women and gender diverse people) and more representation of equity-deserving groups (30%) in their governance and senior leadership.
- The Investment Readiness Program was a $50 million program over 2 years starting in fiscal year 2021 to 2022, designed to help advance social innovation and social finance in Canada.
- The Social Innovation Advisory Council (SIAC) is an advisory group consisting of leaders and experts from across the social purpose, social innovation and social finance sectors that provides strategic advice and subject matter expertise to the Government of Canada to help advance the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy.
- From August 12, 2021, to September 29, 2021, the Government of Canada held a competitive call for expressions of interest to act as fund managers for the Social Finance Fund. A comprehensive assessment resulted in the three investment fund managers being selected by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
- The Social Finance Fund is a $755M program to be deployed over the next 10 years. Fund managers are eligible to receive both conditionally repayable contributions and non-repayable contributions.
- Conditionally repayable contributions: Used for investment activities, to invest in social finance intermediaries and in rare cases, directly into social purpose organizations.
- Non-repayable contributions: Up to 10% of total funding request to cover expenses such as administrative costs, blended-finance and ecosystem-building activities.
- In recognition of economic reconciliation as an important step toward Indigenous reconciliation, $50 million of the $755 million Social Finance Fund was allocated to the Indigenous Growth Fund, which is an Indigenous-led and self-determined fund managed and distributed by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association. The remaining $705 million of the Social Finance Fund will be deployed by the fund managers into the social finance ecosystem.
- The Social Finance Fund has access to $400 million from the available $705 million, over a period of 5 fiscal years (2023 to 2027). ESDC must return to the Treasury Board of Canada for approval to access the remaining funding allocated to the program ($305M).