About the Social Finance Fund
The Social Finance Fund (SFF) is a $755 million initiative that seeks to accelerate the growth of Canada’s social finance market.
The SFF will support charities, non-profits, social enterprises, co-operatives and other social purpose organizations (SPOs) in accessing flexible financing opportunities. Greater access to social finance through the SFF will help them grow, innovate, and enhance their social and environmental impacts.
The SFF will provide repayable funds to a small number of investment managers known as wholesalers. The SFF will also provide a smaller portion of non-repayable funds for activities that support the wholesalers’ use of repayable funds and the SFF’s goals.
Wholesalers will invest in existing or emerging social finance intermediaries, such as credit unions, community loan funds, and private equity firms. Wholesalers will invest in social finance intermediaries alongside other investors. Investors will aim to leverage a minimum of two dollars in private capital for each dollar in federal support.
Social finance intermediaries will invest in a range of diverse SPOs. The SFF seeks to reach and support SPOs led by or serving diverse equity-deserving groups such as (among others):
- Indigenous peoples
- low-income people
- Black Canadians and other racialized peoples
- people with disabilities
- members of the LGBTQ2+ community
- official language minority communities
- recent immigrants and refugees
ESDC will not directly fund SPOs or SFIs through the SFF. Organizations interested in accessing financing should communicate directly with the selected wholesaler(s) and SFIs.
ESDC will select wholesalers through an open and competitive process. Wholesaler(s) will receive funding over 10 years on an annual basis and upon demonstration of needs and capacities. Recipients of funds must make all applicable repayments from investment proceeds by the end of the program. The Government of Canada expects final repayment of funds by 2036 to 2037.
ESDC will communicate further details about the program design once wholesalers are selected.
Figure: The Social Finance Fund model
Figure - Text version
An image shows how the SFF works with arrows indicating in which direction funds will flow and to whom between ESDC, private investors, wholesalers, intermediaries and SPOs.
In the top left of the image is ESDC and in the top right are Private Investors. From ESDC and Private Investors are arrows pointing to the wholesaler between them. From the wholesaler is an arrow pointing down to intermediaries to indicate the investments in the form of debt, equity, and revenue-sharing agreements, etc., that will flow to them. From intermediaries are arrows pointing down to SPOs to indicate the investments that will flow to them.
A box in the bottom left of the image indicates that in rare cases, a wholesaler may invest directly into an SPO.
A box to the right of the SFF model describes the social equity lens. The box has the following written: applying a social equity lens ensures a gender and diversity analysis is incorporated into all elements of the SFF’s design.
To the left of the SFF model is a bracket that indicates the repayment and reporting activities among SPOs, intermediaries, and wholesalers.
Social equity lens
The SFF was designed through a lens of social equity and inclusion. The social equity lens helps to ensure that investments reach and support underrepresented groups and diverse equity-deserving communities. The application of a social equity lens to the SFF aims to address systemic bias, encourage decisions that remove barriers, and ensure diversity analyses are incorporated throughout investment decision-making processes.
A target of a minimum of $100 million will be allocated to investments that support greater gender equality. $50 million of the Social Finance Fund was allocated to the Indigenous Growth Fund (IGF). The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) manages and administers the IGF.
The funding provided by the SFF will enable wholesalers and SFIs to invest in a range of diverse SPOs. By helping to grow the social finance market, the SFF will further support SPOs in their crucial work that includes reducing poverty, advancing Reconciliation commitments, or helping Canada achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The long-term funding provided by the SFF will contribute to the growth of a sustainable social finance market that will not require ongoing federal support.
Leaders and experts from outside of ESDC have informed the design of the SFF and the wholesaler selection process. Their advice is part of the due diligence in policymaking.
In 2021, ESDC established a Technical Assessment Group (TAG) and hired Deloitte Canada to support the wholesaler(s) selection process. The TAG provides strategic and technical advice for the rollout of the SFF.
Visit the Members of the Social Finance Fund Technical Assessment Group for more information.
Deloitte Canada will support the rollout of the SFF with financial advisory services. Deloitte Canada will conduct financial due diligence of wholesaler candidates’ investment management strategies. Deloitte Canada will also advise ESDC on developing funding agreements with selected wholesalers.
The Social Finance Fund was announced in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement but implementation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Budget 2021 recommitted to the launch of the program, including $220 million for deployment in the program’s first 2 years, 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023.
Budget 2021 also confirmed the use of a new funding instrument – Conditionally Repayable Contributions (CRCs). CRCs will allow the Social Finance Fund to promote greater investments into diverse segments of the social purpose sector through flexible, patient, and long-term funding models.
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