Introducing SocialFinance.ca’s New Assistant Editors, Winter 2012

This winter, we are pleased to have four outstanding Assistant Editors for SocialFinance.ca. Each brings relevant experience, passion for the field, and a unique perspective. We look forward to their contributions to the conversation around social finance!

Steffen Kramer

Steffen Kramer is a sustainability consultant at Stratos Inc. who works with mining companies to improve their social impact. This often involves assessing economic conditions and helping develop a local investment strategy.

He has also worked with several social enterprises including ZooShare Biogas and a nascent solar power co-operative.

As an international development vagabond prior to completing an MBA at Schulich School of Business, he worked on microfinance at the World Bank, a disease eradication program in South Sudan, and an HIV/AIDS program in Moldova for MSF.

What do you think are some gaps in the conversation around impact investing? Do we talk about some things too much or, conversely, too little?

One of the gaps that I see in the conversation around social finance is the lack of examples with simple descriptions of how social finance is deployed. Finance is essentially an intermediary tool that connects supply and demand. On the supply side it would help to recognize the type of investors and their different strategies. But on the demand side especially, many of the potential recipients of social finance are experimenting with new business models (public-private partnerships like mixed-income social housing projects) and emerging industries (microfinance, renewable energy).

It would be great to see more examples of successful enterprises that benefit from social finance; to simply outline their business model, and describe which social finance tool is the right one to support them.

Simon Anderson

Simon is an Assistant Editor at SocialFinance.ca and was previously a Senior Social Return on Investment (SROI) Analyst at Social Asset Measurements (SAM) where he worked with clients to develop and implement SROI analyses. Prior to joining SAM, he worked with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada where he focused on social finance policy issues.

Simon holds a B.A. in International Development and Economics (University of King’s College) and a Master of Public Policy (University of Toronto).

What do you think are some gaps in the conversation around impact investing? Do we talk about some things too much or, conversely, too little?

Discussions surrounding impact investing often focus on the supply side of the equation: the number of investors; the amount of money available; the mechanisms that could encourage individuals and institutions to engage in impact investing; etc. While this is certainly a needed discussion, I think it overshadows an equally important aspect, this being the demand for impact investments. This is not to disparage the efforts made to assess demand as past work has helped to shed light on this issue.

However, the reality is that not enough is known about what types of financing organizations are looking for, and more importantly, how many organizations have the capacity and are at a state where they are able to seek , and effectively utilize, financing. Addressing this knowledge gap will help to improve programs and policies that support organizations, which will thereby increase deal flow in Canada.

Sara Bartolomeo

Sara Bartolomeo is a recent BBA graduate of the Schulich School of Business, and also spent 6 months studying abroad at EDHEC Business School in France. She is passionate about impact investing, in particular fostering growth in the crowd-funding and social impact bond industries in Canada. She currently works as a Junior Business Planning Analyst for the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation and the Ministry of Consumer Services, where she conducts jurisdictional research and financial analysis to ensure that sufficient resources exist to support job creation and consumer protection in Ontario.

Sara is also the Director of Communications for SPARKS, a network of over 100 business planning and finance professionals in the Ontario Public Service.

What do you think are some gaps in the conversation around impact investing? Do we talk about some things too much or, conversely, too little?

Impact investing is at a nascent stage in Canada right now, where both the private and public sectors are starting to recognize its potential to transform the way that social value is created. While many publications have analyzed the metrics being used to evaluate these investments, in order to garner more support, there needs to be more case studies available. Learning about organizations that have successfully leveraged various investment models (eg., crowd-funding, community bonds) to reach a social goal, and especially analyzing those that have failed along the way, will provide invaluable insight for entrepreneurs and organizations who are reluctant to use these models.

Micayla Jacobs

Micayla Jacobs works as Client Services and Business Development Coordinator at Better The World, a social enterprise that works with organizations to create innovative strategies that help them make money while doing good.

Micayla is a recent graduate from McGill University’s International Development Honours program. As a ‘travel-a-holic’, she has also spent time on exchange at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, studying Arabic and Hebrew in Tel Aviv, and volunteering with primary health providers in South America. She is new to the world of social finance but is excited about the opportunities that it presents. Micayla strives to find a meaningful way to unite her passions by using business tools to create environmental and social change.

What do you think are some gaps in the conversation around impact investing? Do we talk about some things too much or, conversely, too little?

I have only recently been introduced to the impact investing conversation and therefore I am not well versed in the conversation or its potential gaps – and that I believe is an important point in itself.

As a business minded recent graduate with a passion for development I did not come across a single class or discussion exposing me to the idea of social finance as a tool to bring about social and environmental change (and not because I was looking). This issue was further brought home when hearing some of the incredible speakers at MaRS Social Finance Forum talk about their experiences speaking to business schools and commerce programs. The focus on business students and graduates is leaving intelligent students within other disciplines looking for a different way to solve the challenges they see in society out of the conversation.

What I did learn from my interdisciplinary degree is that change is most effective when individuals from all sectors come together united under a common goal. In order for social finance and impact investing to make the substantial changes, its champions seek it must step out of the niche and into the mainstream, both in the business community but also beyond it.

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