Blog Post, CCEDNet, Social Finance

What is Social Finance? Exploring the need for a demand-side social finance info hub

August 25, 2023

Our CCEDNet team attended the Social Finance Forum on June 15, 2023 both virtually and hybrid with some of our Investment Readiness Program (IRP) team attending in-person events in Toronto.  We listened and shared much with others in the social finance ecosystem as we attended panel discussions, networked and participated in Braindate small group sessions.  

Something that became more and more evident over the course of the 2-day event was that there are an overwhelming amount of questions about the Social Finance Fund which launched in May 2023 and how to navigate the social finance field more broadly.  We’ve also noticed this dynamic when asked to present about the IRP, Social Finance Fund, and social finance at conferences, webinars, or guest lectures. Not to mention, as hosts of the IRP website, many of the same questions also come to us through the ‘help desk’ on that site. 

Part of the issue is that the social finance ecosystem is being built, and some questions will be answered as the new Wholesalers get established.  But a major barrier is the jargon and an understanding of the concept and practice itself.  

Some of the questions we were hearing were sentiments of:

  • How does a Social Purpose Organization (SPO) apply to the Social Finance Fund?  When do we learn more about this?
  • How are the Investment Readiness Program and Social Finance Fund related?  What does it mean to be ‘investment ready’?
  • We hear that the Social Finance ecosystem wants to ‘shift power’ but what does this really look like?
  • How is the Social Finance Fund and the Social Finance sector different if we are only talking about how change is needed in order to better support underfunded, equity-denied Social Purpose Organizations instead of having concrete steps and plans in place?
  • How are we reaching SPOs effectively and ensuring that this Social Finance sector support and Social Finance Fund money is actually getting to where it needs to go in order to affect change?  

There is clearly a need for conveners and ecosystem builders in the field to offer clearer and more accessible information so that the greater audience of Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) which this social finance movement aims to reach and support in more tangible, fulsome ways than traditional financial systems, can be meaningfully engaged in the growing social finance marketplace in Canada.

So, as we reflect on these recent observations, we are taking steps towards a hub of information built by and for the ‘demand-side’ of this social finance ecosystem – the  grassroots organizations, Social Purpose Organizations, co-operatives, social enterprises, ecosystem builders, and their direct supporters who are figuring out where they fit in this field. To start, we are seeking input from you to inform our work and make sure we’re understanding the problem fully.  Some organizations perhaps may think they might be part of this SF ecosystem and are not sure or would like to be considered part of it – we need to hear from you too!  

Fill out our questionnaire here.  Your contact information will remain private, we do not share this with anyone, and you have the option of remaining anonymous should you wish.

We hope this feedback will ensure we build a digital resource and tools that helps us all navigate the social finance ecosystem in a clear, efficient manner.  This is an emergent project we are embarking upon with guidance from the demand-side community, made for these communities to develop tools for way-finding and connecting to make deeper impacts for everyone in the social finance ecosystem.

To connect further about this project, contact Susanna Redekop, Engagement Manager for the Investment Readiness Program: 


IRP Team

Part of the Regional & Strategic Initiatives strategy at the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet)

Susanna Redekop

Susanna Redekop is the Engagement Manager for the Investment Readiness Program (IRP), part of the Regional Initiatives team at CCEDNet.  As part of the Investment Readiness Program team, Susanna builds and maintains relationships and communications between the various partner organizations involved in delivering and supporting the IRP to ultimately support a stronger Social Finance / Social Innovation ecosystem for Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) and communities across Canada.