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The Social Finance Awards: Meet our Judges!

The Social Finance Awards are presented to leaders who are playing a pivotal role in catalyzing the Canadian social finance marketplace. The award was conceptualized to showcase and celebrate the efforts that individuals and organizations are making to mobilize private capital for public good. This year’s award will be awarded to Canada’s “Most Promising New Financial Player” in social finance.

We would like to thank all of our judges for their hard work and dedication to the launch of the first Social Finance Awards! Our Top 10 finalists will be announced shortly and profiled online, followed by online voting to determine this year’s winner.

The Social Finance Awards 2012 Judges Panel

Here’s what some of our judges have to say about the importance of new financial players in social finance in Canada:

A continuum of financing is key to an ecosystem that enables sustained growth of social enterprises. Here is one possible profile of that continuum: feasibility grants at the bottom, funded through foundations and government programs; then pitch competitions sponsored through larger corporations and financial institutions; government loan guarantees could fuel debt being provided through financial institutions and or loan funds; PRI funds from foundations could invest in larger asset based opportunities; tax credits would build more capital, allowing investors to invest directly into social enterprises and or build loan/investment pools for investing in social enterprises; and the final financing piece are social enterprise loans at any financial institution.

The final step means the social enterprise has built enough credit worthiness to graduate to the formal financial marketplace. This continuum tends to reflect a lower value at the outset and builds towards greater values. This is not to say that in times of growth, they can’t go back and use the continuum again. Government can provide the tax credit legislation, loan guarantees, and funding for intermediaries to  carry out a promotional campaign, build and manage loan pools and build capacity in the sector.  They can also provide a market with their procurement policies, to enable or even promote social enterprises to deliver services to the government.” – Seth Asimakos

Our research on social finance at the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation over the past five years identified social finance as an uncoordinated market place with a mismatch between the demand for capital, its supply, and the necessary intermediaries and instruments by which to connect the two.  We also identified the need for solid metrics by which to measure impact as key to moving to an efficient social finance market.

I am pleased to see so many new entrants and opportunities in social finance develop over these past five years.  In my early research work in this area I had to draw on US and UK examples when illustrating such innovation – now in an Own The Podium moment, we can celebrate Canadian social finance innovation while building the market for impact.” – Dr. Tessa Hebb

A vibrant ecosystem for blended value businesses requires two inter-related components: one is a supportive environment for building business capacity to create the demand; and the other one is the creation of effective supply side financing tools, consisting of diverse forms of capital, resources and opportunities.” – David LePage

There is much work to be done as we move towards building a just and sustainable economy.  Financial players play a key role, providing capital that allows emerging companies the time and capacity to develop transformative business models.  Early participants in social finance are proving that investors can circumvent the corruption and global instability of today’s financial markets by investing directly in local companies and projects.  They are redefining the concept of Modern Portfolio Theory by earning strong, consistent returns while generating a positive social and/or environmental impact.” – Tim Nash

In our work at Ecotrust Canada, we rely heavily on a continuum of financing mechanisms – moving our initiatives from philanthropically funded early stage developmental work through to market-ready stand-alone entities eligible for conventional forms of capital and everything in between. Financial players willing to consider a variety of forms of financial investment and able to look with a sharp eye at innovative ways to invest or lend, help us to advance social enterprises and social innovations more smoothly through their growth trajectory from high impact but also high risk opportunities to high impact and low risk realities.” – Brenda Reid-Kuecks

Stay tuned for this year’s Top 10 finalists and get ready to vote for Canada’s “Most Promising New Financial Player” in social finance!

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