Backgrounder: Organizations receiving funds to deliver the Investment Readiness Program
The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) is a $50 million initiative that seeks to help advance social innovation and social finance (SI/SF) in Canada. The program supports social purpose organizations (SPOs) to build capacity and to get ready to access social finance opportunities. SPOs include charities, non-profits, social enterprises, co-operatives and businesses with a social mission.
The IRP will be delivered by 26 organizations selected under two streams:
Stream 1: Readiness support partners
The readiness support partners will provide funding to SPOs to build skills and capacity to access social finance investment. SPOs can use the funding to get help conducting market analysis, develop new products and services, build business plans, and acquire technical expertise.
The four readiness support partners are:
Community Foundations of Canada (CFC)
This project will encourage the growth and readiness of the social innovation and social finance ecosystem, and will support SPOs that currently do not consider themselves part of that ecosystem. To support the readiness of the social finance ecosystem, CFC will:
- Continue to engage and inform communities of SI/SF opportunities and tools at the national, regional, and community level. This includes increasing the awareness of the IRP through informative events, workshops, talks and other knowledge-sharing engagements; and
- Work with regional and provincial-level funders, including community foundations and other partners, to flow funds to SPOs. Funds can be used to support SPOs as they assess their capacities, access services, and improve their readiness to engage in future SI/SF opportunities. Particular focus will be on specific communities and organizations that are historically under-represented in the SI/SF sector.
- Provide support for the Foundation For Black Communities (FFBC) to direct IRP funding to Black-led and Black-serving SPOs.
Chantier de l'économie sociale
This project will help SPOs in Quebec improve their ability to participate in the social finance market and build their skills and capacity to access new investment opportunities. The objectives are to distribute funding and provide guidance on how SPOs can improve their position on the investment readiness continuum. The project also aims to document the results and lessons learned from the implementation of the program.
Canadian Women's Foundation
This project will support a diverse set of organizations and SPOs along the investment readiness continuum, with the goal to increase their skills, knowledge, and capacity, enabling them to move closer to the next stage of readiness to access new investment opportunities. The organization will oversee readiness and technical assistance funding aimed at increasing the capacity of organizations, particularly for organizations that serve women and gender-diverse people with multiple barriers to social and economic inclusion.
National Association of Friendship Centres
This project will increase the investment readiness of Indigenous SPOs to participate in the social finance market and will enhance their capacity to engage in new investment activities. In addition, the project will seek to support the growth of past funded SPOs in the furtherance of their SI/SF ambitions by ensuring that their projects and aspirations can continue into the future.
SPOs who are eligible to receive the IRP funding can apply through readiness support partners and have their applications assessed by them. Please note that the Government of Canada does not directly assess SPOs’ proposals for this program.
Information on how and when to apply will be available on readiness support partners’ websites.
Stream 2: Ecosystem builders
The ecosystem builders will invest in projects that help grow and strengthen the social innovation/social finance ecosystem by being more inclusive and integrated. A strong ecosystem makes it easier for SPOs to be more socially innovative and to access social finance.
The 22 ecosystem builders are:
Ajah/Powered by Data
This project will utilize data collected from other IRP partners about demand for social finance readiness support. The organization will work closely with these partners to co-create prioritized data and analytics needs and then provide data sharing protocols, analysis, and engagement activities to offer solutions to these needs. Their work will expand the existing scope of the social finance ecosystem by directly engaging with stakeholders not currently in the market (such as the nonprofit and academia sectors).
Buy Social Canada
This project will support market access for SPOs to find buyers for their goods and services. Additionally, the project will:
- Increase the capacity and market opportunities for SPOs organizations and social enterprise suppliers;
- Increase the social value purchasing policies and decisions of purchasers across governments, anchor institutions, private companies, and non-profits; and
- Increase the inclusion and opportunities for equity-deserving organizations, intermediaries, and enterprises through social procurement activities.
Canadian Community Economic Development Network
This project will Convene and connect IRP partners and as a network, grounded in inclusion. Additionally, this project will:
- Conduct a principles-based evaluation of this work;
- Connect and build the social economy ecosystem at both provincial and pan-Canadian levels, including ongoing and participatory development of a national ecosystem mapping project; and
- Providing relevant pan-Canadian participatory peer-learning opportunities for community-based SPOs and social economy ecosystem actors.
Carleton Centre for Community Innovation
This project will co-create a flexible standard for impact measurement that will help SPOs better understand and achieve social impact through enhanced impact measurement. Additionally, this project will:
- Continue to support the organization’s ongoing work to disseminate tools and research to SPOs; and
- Continue to collaborate on an Indigenous approach to impact measurement by working under the leadership and guidance of Indigenous partners, Elders and knowledge keepers.
Community Capital Initiative
This project will help build a stronger social finance ecosystem, with particular focus on technical and capacity building infrastructure for small, community and place-based social finance intermediaries. This project will also work with individual and regional community capital partners across Canada to participate in the infrastructure design and educational program.
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP)
This project will build on the Widjiwagan - Sharing our Stories: Tools for Social Innovation project, which the organization created under the IRP pilot. Phase Two aims to incorporate all of the tools and materials from phase one of the project by creating partnerships with businesses and organizations, assessing impact and supporting their incorporation of the tools and of shared values and principles.
Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC)
This project will allow CMC to continue acting as an ecosystem mobilizer for the co-op sector, in order to provide an additional layer of support to social purpose organizations. CMC’s participation will:
- Increase skills, knowledge or understanding of social innovation and social finance in the co-op sector;
- Help allocate funding and increase capacity to co-operative enterprises to access loans or investments through increased business planning expertise, as well as an understanding of social finance options;
- Increase knowledge of the co-operative business model, its values and principles in the social innovation social finance ecosystem; and
- Improve linguistic understanding of terminologies and knowledge of the ecosystem of social innovation and social finance in the co-op sector.
The organization will conduct a series of case studies that illustrate the ways in which social finance tools are or have been utilized by a sample of charities and nonprofits. This series will integrate and build off of the quantitative findings of the survey they conducted under the IRP pilot. The cases studies will provide a greater understanding of how, and which kinds of social finance approaches lead to successful implementation by charities and nonprofits. They will apply an equity lens to this research, by prioritizing organizations led by or serving equity-seeking groups.
Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC)
This project will help SPOs build their capacity to connect with and support Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse people. Specifically, NWAC will add in-depth education and awareness resources to include specific focus on Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse people who are 2SLGBTQ+ and/or who are people with disabilities. NWAC will also scale up engagement and collaboration members of the SI/SF ecosystem beyond those funded by the Investment Readiness Program, expanding training opportunities to a broader range of SPOs who are interested in supporting Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse entrepreneurs.
New Power Labs (NPL)
This project will build supports, networks and accountability to ensure that all SPOs, regardless of the demographic of their leadership, have access to capital to build and grow their organizations. The NPL will focus on three drivers of change: research, prototyping, and building a tool to enable SPO-social finance intermediary matching.
Social Economy through Social Inclusion
This project will focus on four pillars to strengthen the engagement, incubation and support of Black SPOs as an essential step towards equity. Delivered in four pillars, the project will:
- Bridge the gap between Black and Indigenous SPO leaders;
- Maintain opportunities for dialogue and peer support amongst BIack SPO leaders, and building awareness of BIack SPO’s leadership among leading SI/SF ecosystem stakeholders;
- Develop an inclusion, diversity, equity and access framework to establish indicators, consensus on measurement models, refine comprehension of social and racial equity lenses and inter-sectional approaches to resource allocation;
- Further develop the Solidarity Working Group, which was established to cultivate greater inclusion, diversity, equity and access in the social finance ecosystem in Canada.
Social Innovation Canada Institute
The project will reach SPOs working on social innovation across Canada to strengthen the SI/SF ecosystem. It will do this by:
- Building awareness and/or access to the existing tools and approaches, promoting the work and programs of the other ecosystem builders;
- Bringing new audiences to educational, incubation and acceleration programs and other social finance investment/funding opportunities suitable for SPOs; and
- Creating and distributing “what works” case studies and profiles of how SPOs working in social innovation have become investment ready.
This project will connect the IRP and the broader SI/SF ecosystem internally to ensure that partners and ecosystem actors are engaged with each other and the ecosystem as a whole. In partnership with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, Startup Canada will serve as a promotional convener of internal and external communications for all IRP-related activities and outputs.
The project also aims to disseminate tools and information externally to highlight diverse SPOs and SI/SF ecosystem partners aligned to the IRP to extend the reach of IRP externally, and increase diversity of stories shared.
United Church of Canada
This project will build awareness of SI/SF by:
- Analyzing and reporting on the equity-centered conditions of successful faith-led SI/SF initiatives, and further encourage other faith organizations and the social impact sector to learn from successful cases.
- Co-creating an outreach and engagement program with local ambassadors, by engaging with communities of faith to grow participation in the IRP and in Canada's SI/SF sector.
- Evaluating the results of this project and transition the appropriate elements of it into long term outreach programming supported by the United Church.
African Caribbean Business Network
The project will continue to expand the organization’s outreach to SPOs who are led by Women, Black People and other Racialized Communities. This will be achieved through support initiatives, such as info sessions, to explain the overall vision for the SFF/IRP and by supporting businesses to apply. The funding will expand the amount of working groups that the organization is able to deliver in partnership with the Federal Black Ecosystem network to reach Black entrepreneurs across Canada and expand to serve 750 BIPOC entrepreneurs.
Canadian Worker Co-op Federation
This project will provide a pathway through which underrepresented groups can buy out viable businesses from existing owners and convert them into SPOs owned by and serving local equity-deserving groups. The main goals of this project are to identify potential social acquisition opportunities and reach out to equity-deserving groups to share these opportunities; and provide information about resources to facilitate the social acquisition process and ensure these projects are ready for scaling up and future investment.
Common Good Solutions
The project will address four needs in order to build a strong ecosystem in Atlantic Canada: capacity, access to appropriate capital, timely and credible academic research and good policy and programs. The organization will do this by building broad consensus amongst SPOs in the region. It will also connect capacity building and social finance intermediary organizations through the establishment of pan-Atlantic and regional working groups. The working groups will be inclusive of equity seeking groups, academics and researchers and will co-create a logic model that reflects the interests of SPOs, Intermediaries, Academics and researchers from across the region.
The organization will carry out a two-part project to help ensure that the SI/SF ecosystem reflects the needs and perspectives of Northern Indigenous entrepreneurs and social innovators. The project will also explore how the charity sector can facilitate opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs and Indigenous-led SPOs to access social finance and impact financing in Northern Canada. The project will include a design thinking process focused on the creation of a Northern-based impact fund that will aim to serve the early-stage capital needs of Northern Indigenous entrepreneurs and social innovators through charity sector solutions. The project will also be a research project focused on practical social purpose impact measures of success from a Northern Indigenous perspective.
The organization will strengthen SI/SF networks of expertise in the disability community by acting as a knowledge mobilizer to support disability-led and disability-serving organizations to build skills and capacity to access social finance. The organization will raise knowledge of SI/SF in the disability sector; build SI/SF capacity in the disability community; and, enhance inclusion and diversity as related to people with disabilities in the broader SI/SF system. The project will do this by developing outreach tools, delivering webinars, showcasing inclusive examples and providing resources that are specific to disability-led and serving organizations.
Raven Indigenous Impact Foundation (RIIF)
The organization will create a suite of focused activities to help build the investment readiness of the eco-system in support of the Community-Driven Outcomes Contracts model. This model is based on the idea that organizations are paid for the achievement of measurable outcomes linked to improving people's lives. The project will do this by finalizing a business case of their ongoing project - establishing a Diabetes Reduction Bond. It will also support the development of innovative tools, including a policy framework, intake mechanisms, criteria, and metrics to be shared with the wider SI/SF ecosystem.
Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada
The project will leverage and update the existing Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada (SERNNoCa) database of social purpose organizations in the Canadian North. The organization will also complete a literature review compiling research and findings on the barriers, needs and opportunities of SPOs in the North to grow and access capital, with insights on how to address those issues and build a better relationship. They will complete a survey, of the same organizations contacted for the database, on their knowledge and interest for the IRP and SI/SF.
Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire (TIESS)
This project will co-construct measures to address the gaps that hinder SPOs from scaling up and equip the ecosystem to better support SPOs that are scaling up. TIESS has developed a guide on scaling strategies as well as other tools to support networks in providing coaching to SPOs. The project will complement tools already available by designing a tool to measure the financial impacts of a project, in order to maximize their appropriation and use by the partners. Additionally, TIESS will design a support pathway and develop structural solutions to overcome the obstacles that hinder social finance.
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