Social Finance Round Up: Launch of Big Society Capital and Community Forward Fund

SocialFinance.ca produces a weekly round up featuring social finance related news, insights, job openings, and events. We source the content for these round ups from Twitter, an RSS reader, and directly from our community of social finance practitioners. Below is our round up for the week of April 9, 2012.

Last Week on SocialFinance.ca

Elizabeth Chitty described the finance gap for artists and called for artists to respond to a survey she is conducting.

Sean Peters described 5 lessons for social ventures from the Global Catalyst Initiative, which takes new ventures through that tough journey from pilot to proof to concept.

Sucheta Rajogopal reported on growth and innovation in the green economy as reported in the recent Green Transition Scoreboard report.

Canadian and International News

The Community Forward Fund, which makes loans or arranges financing for Canadian nonprofits and charities, launched in Toronto last week. Tim Wilbur reported on the launch as well: “An innovative new fund set up to provide loans to charities and nonprofits has received approval from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) as an investment fund manager.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron launched Big Society Capital, a social investment wholesaler that will invest £600m in social investment finance intermediaries (SIFIs) – organisations that provide finance and support to social sector organisations. A number of investments have already been approved. (BBC Report)

The community responded with lots of thoughts and commentary:

  • Nick O’ Donohue, Big Society Capital: “An opportunity to accelerate the pace of change, to move beyond research and rhetoric and beyond aspiration for a new way of investing and a new asset class. Now needs to be the time when this leadership drives real transactions and starts to make a real difference to frontline social enterprises and to the lives of people in our society.”
  • Jonathan Jenkins, the Social Investment Business Group: “Government has paved the way for the impact investment market to progress and expand beyond recognition…Whilst not covering every single base, these two initiatives pretty much challenge the market to put up or shut up. We lobbied hard enough for what we believed the market needed, we got enough of it, and now we simply have to deliver. And no excuses.”
  • Richard Holbrooke, Social Enterprise UK: “Big Society Capital will be an important anchor within the UK’s growing social investment market and has the potential to direct capital to where it’s needed most – into frontline organisations and sustainable businesses making a positive difference in communities across Britain.”
  • Toby Eccles, Social Finance: “Because the infrastructure on which it sits is still emerging, Big Society Capital needs wider support. It needs the support of grant makers and early social investors to build up some of these elements and to co-invest. It needs the community around it to now shoulder more responsibility, not less because it has arrived. It also needs patience.”

Michael Green, writing in advance of the announcement, noted that Britain has had a social investment sector for a long time: social housing.

At the launch, David Cameron also signalled a rethink of the proposed cap on tax relief for philanthropic donations after charities protested.

The launch of Big Society Capital was accompanied by the announcement of the £10m Investment and Contract Readiness Fund, which will support social ventures to build their capacity to be able to receive investment and bid for public service contracts.

The UK government will also award about £33m to larger voluntary organisations to enable them to offer grants and other support to community groups that want to use new rights in the Localism Act. The Act allows them to challenge local decisions about who should deliver public services, to bid for assets of community value and to have more say in neighbourhood planning.

The Calvert Foundation has launched WIN-WIN, the Women Investing In Women Initiative. It is targeted at female investors and it only takes $20 to get involved.

On April 2nd, the London Stock Exchange Group donated a full day’s worth of equity trading fees to charity – a figure it estimates would be in excess £500,000.

The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing hosted an event at Patagonia Toronto, bringing together current B Corporations and those interested in finding out more on what that means. View pictures and encourage others to ‘B the Change’, courtesy Ian Martin Group.

The Principles for Responsible Investment and the Canadian Business and Ethics Research Network (CBERN) are pleased to announce the Fifth Annual Academic Conference on Responsible Investment. The conference is a unique opportunity for researchers, students and investment professionals to present research, identify research opportunities and build partnerships to continue to enhance our knowledge of responsible investment. Download the Call for Papers [PDF] now.

Toronto+Acumen is introducing a salon dinner series based on the values and principles of the Acumen Fund. The first event will be held on April 17th at Fabarnak, with the theme There is no currency like trust, and no shortcuts to earning it. Email info@torontoforacumen.com to attend.

According to a report from the Insurance Commission of the Philippines, a micro insurance program launched in 2010 has contributed to 3.1 million Filipinos having acquired insurance coverage. The basic products are for health, accident, house and charges are up to 5 percent of an individual’s earnings.

A report by US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment finds that the uptake of sustainable investment strategies by alternative funds such as private equity has increased in recent years.

UK Sustainable Investment and Finance (UKSIF) has announced that eight sustainable investment organizations, representing more than 1,000 members, will collaborate on a report identifying global trends in sustainable investment. As well, the organizations will launch a global website and collaborate more closely on policy issues as well.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, has made its first insurance investment in Chile. The $10 million investment is to provide Aseguradora Magallanes help in expanding the availability of insurance to underserved small businesses.

SoFi, is a new US based student loan program funded by school alumni. Piloted at Stanford in 2011, the fund raised $2M dollars and will offer returns of 5-8% while offering current students favourable loan interest rates. Besides money, students are also connected with alumni “investors” for networking and advice.

The Islamic Development Bank has announced a major microfinance investment in Sudan. Working through the newly launched IRADA, it hopes to reach 325,000 clients in the next 5 years.

A report has found that when you control for geography, the best way to get a Kiva loan is to be young, pretty, female and light skinned.

Social Finance Learning and Best Practices

Peter Shergold from Australia argues that when we think about Social Impact Bonds the Peterborough incarceration example is a good one, but there is plenty else to talk about elsewhere in the UK.

On the eve of the announcement of the 10th Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™) cohort, Thane Kreiner lists lessons from the first ten years.

The Globe and Mail ran an article about the latest adventures of Muhammad Yunus: Reeboks for less than $2, amongst other things.

A discussion of Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s decision to cut the rate of income tax for the highest earners to 45% from 50%. A blow to charities, perhaps, but there is some nuance.

Carl Frankel asks the question of whether social entrepreneurship is subversive and where it sits in the struggle between capitalism and socialism.

Vinay Nair, on the Acumen Fund blog, reports on his experience at the Skoll World Forum – on the need to keep an eye on the impact side of impact investing.

From the same Forum, Matthew Bishop ruminated on the conference theme: flux. Meanwhile, Jim Fruchterman discussed that the most difficult to obtain, but also most critical kind of funding is…unrestricted!

At OxfordJam, an offshoot of the Skoll Forum, Paul Cheng argued that social investment needs to be promoted using behavioural economics, reported Claudia Cahalane in the Guardian.

The innovation can be the easy part: Sarah Stankorb looks at the fuel needed for growth and success.

Development in Action has run a debate series on microfinance:

Sure social entrepreneurship is popular, but there is little in the way of resources available for start-ups: an exploration of one approach to filling that gap.

Jonathan Glennie in the Guardian discusses Milford Bateman’s push for community-based financial institutions that prioritise sustainable community development, as opposed to microfinance.

Job Opportunities

Urban Alliance is seeking a Director of Evaluation to further develop its evaluation practices.

Alterna Savings is looking for a Community Micro Loan Coordinator.

Social Innovation Generation (National) is looking for a Program Manager; deadline is Monday, 23 April 2012.

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is looking to hire two Summer Associates for 10 weeks to support its activities.

The Grassroots Business Fund posted a metrics and development impact summer internship opportunity.

The Unreasonable Institute is looking for a Program Manager to design and execute the 6-week Summer Institute for social entrepreneurs.

The Centre for Social Innovation is hiring a Director of Programming to join the CSI management team.

LGT Venture Philanthropy is looking for a Business Accelerator Consultant (PDF) to work with LGT VP’s Impact Ventures Accelerator Program in Indonesia. Find out more about the opportunity and apply by April 30, 2012.

Calvert Social Investment Foundation is seeking a Compliance Officer, among several other roles.

Upcoming Events

Toronto for Acumen Dinner Salon Series #1
April 17, Fabernak Restaurant, 519 Church Street, Toronto

Social Venture Network 2012 Annual Member Gathering
April 19 – 22, Stevenson, Washington

Investors’ Circle Spring Venture Fair
April 22-24, San Francisco

3rd Annual Impact Conference
22-25 April, 2012, Miami, Florida

SOCAP: Designing the Future
May 8 – 10, Malmo, Sweden

Environmental Bonds Conference
May 23, New York

Canada’s Socially Responsible Investment Conference
June 18 – 20, Montreal, Quebec

Cracking the Nut 2012 Conference
June 25-26, 2012, Enrique V. Iglesias Conference Center, Washington, DC

Partnering for Global Impact
July 9-10, Lugano, Switzerland

PRI-CBERN Academic Conference 2012
October 1-3, York University, Toronto, Canada

The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) – Fórum Mundial de Negócios Sociais 2012
October 16-18, 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/benimoto/603815615/

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