Launch of the Causeway/Ashoka/ Social Finance Blog Series

Welcome to the launch of the Causeway/Ashoka/ Social Finance Blog Series! It’s with great pleasure that I kick-off this initiative bringing national practitioners and thought leaders together to provide a comprehensive perspective of what social finance is, what it does, and what it could do. With new social finance models popping up nationally and globally it is imperative that we take notice of the trends and foster the discussion within our own networks of influence.

Let’s continually ask ourselves:

  • What’s working and why?
  • What are the issues and challenges?
  • How can we increase the capacity of the sector around this topic?

Cue the blog series. We will introduce a new discussion topic every two weeks to address these questions and more. Be sure to check back in frequently to provide your input on, what we feel, is a movement gaining momentum here in Canada.

Now my thoughts and an exciting video launch:

To explore the question of what social finance is, let’s outline the context in which we discuss it. Traditionally, investors, bankers, academics and economists believed that the objective for finance was the pursuit of a financial return through the use of a debt or equity investment in business opportunities.

The social sector on the other hand, was separate and distinctly funded by government grants and philanthropy.

It’s been recently challenged by the development of new hybrid business models and a systems-thinking approach to finance. When we talk about systems-thinking, we move into the realm of social innovation. By definition, social innovation is an initiative, product or process that profoundly changes beliefs, basic routines, resource and authority flows of any social system in the direction of greater resilience. At its most basic, social innovation is about new ideas that work to solve systemic social and environmental problems.

By broadening our goals for finance we create the need for innovative finance mechanisms. By challenging the distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit endevours, or blurring the responsibilities of the social sector and the private sector, or by using business tools to spark social and environmental change + a financial return, we are essentially creating demand for finance with a new lens.

In an attempt to meet this demand and enhance the amount of capital available for these blended value investments, a new investor class is emerging and developing innovative financing instruments and models that recognize social, environmental and financial returns. Although efforts are largely segregated here in Canada, we are seeing innovative leadership examples and models serving the spectrum of blended value enterprise (from social purpose businesses to charities).

To ultimately define what social finance is, or isn’t, let’s hear from these people leading the charge designing, using, or executing these models. What are some of the great Canadian examples out there?

To kick-off this series and welcome all to the discussion, Causeway has created a short, upbeat video, Re-Imagine Money, introducing social finance, enjoy!



Re-imagine Money from SiG @ MaRS on Vimeo.

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