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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Social Innovation and Social Finance Tour 2011: Reflection

Top Five Takeaways from the Tour 
(Part 2 of a 2-part series) 

Potluck Cafe: A successful social enterprise in Vancouver.
1. The momentum of social innovation and social finance is thriving in British Columbia. There are social enterprises popping out of every corner and several financial organizations to support them. It got me thinking: 

Why BC?  Why NOT Ontario? 

2. Current CRA laws restricting non-profit organizations and “social enterprises” (which don’t actually legally exist in Canada....YET) cause major complexity for organizations that are simply trying to find creative revenue streams aside from their dangerous dependence on donation dollars. This highlights the need for Canada to shadow the UK’s new legal entity, the “Community Interest Company” (CIC), or, the US’s “Low-profit Limited Liability Company” (L3C) to provide the opportunity to build legal, simple, and sustainable social enterprises. 

 Group discussions in Vancity's boardroom
3. Intermediaries are an essential prerequisite to growing the social finance field in Canada. 

What are intermediaries, might you ask? Think investment banks, but for social investment portfolios. 

We need organizations that can link investors who are interested in impact investing with the social entrepreneurs who are in dire need of funding. We need these intermediaries to manage the investment portfolios. Vancity, a cooperative bank in Vancouver, is a proven model that has invested millions into successful social enterprises. 

4. The Social Impact Bond model has tremendous potential for this country, but finding an appropriate process for measuring success will slow the model’s emergence in public policy. There are also many social and environmental issues that cannot be solved using this model. 

CONCLUSION: We need to look globally and think creatively about other possible social finance instruments. For lack of a better metaphor, let’s not put all our eggs in one basket. 

Founded by Stacey Corriveau
5. As Stacey Corriveau preached to the crowd: The government often chooses to deal with social issues now and claims they will deal with the environment once those are solved. 


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