Financing Social Enterprises

Financing Social Enterprises

We’re excited to be working once again with Ottawa’s Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CSED).   Our current engagement is focused on implementing CSED’s new UNCAPPED program.  This partnership with the Province’s Social Enterprise Development Fund ((SEDF), Alterna Savings, Ottawa Community Foundation and United Way Ottawa Centraide is designed to overcome funding barriers and gaps faced by social enterprises at various stages of development and with diverse legal structures.  UNCAPPED will be offering grant, debt and combination products to the City’s social enterprises, along with the technical assistance needed to help these mission-driven businesses get ready for financing. Over the years, we have helped a number of organizations understand the market for and develop financing products that work for both the funder and the fundee. It’s great to be able to bring that expertise to...

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Financing Food Enterprises

Financing Food Enterprises

Client types and projects seem to come in waves. We’ve just completed one project in Vermont and are working with two land/food-related enterprises in Ottawa after a bit of a hiatus in that sector. Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Board hired us to prepare a blueprint for financing tools that could allow them to use their funding to leverage additional investment in the working lands businesses they seek to support. In Ottawa, Market Mobile is working to get fresh, healthy and affordable food to communities that are food insecure due to income and distance from supermarkets. We’re working with the operating team to enhance Market Mobile’s sustainability. We’re also in the early stage of business planning projects with Ottawa’s Just Food and a couple of Vermont’s Farm-to-School initiatives (in collaboration with Andy Robinson.) One of the more interesting things about this work is seeing the impact of varied policy approaches. Vermont, as one of the US leaders in addressing agriculture and food systems, has spent decades creating an infrastructure that is supportive of farm and forest producers, value-added enterprises and the markets where they reach consumers. As a result, the State is one of North America’s leading jurisdictions when it comes to creative ways to address food insecurity, protection of agricultural lands, financing working lands enterprise and local economic development. It’s great to be able to share some of the policy initiatives and lessons from Vermont’s experience with organizations in...

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Money, Mission and Strategy

Money, Mission and Strategy

Sleeping Lion’s principal, Nancy Wasserman, is working with Community Forward Fund to deliver Money, Mission and Strategy. This innovative peer-based clinic is designed to equip nonprofits with the knowledge and skills they need to assess their financial health and incorporate practical financial planning tools into day-to-day communications and management. Over a day and a half, participants learn about the distinctive aspects of nonprofit economics, how to read and interpret their financial statements and strategies for using this learning to better achieve their mission. Participants learn from one another as well as us as they use their newly-gained knowledge to tell their organization’s unique story and develop the strategies they need to move forward in challenging...

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Community Foundations and Impact Investing

Forbes reports that a growing number of community foundations are using impact investing to achieve their mission. The article is based on findings in   A New Anchor Mission for a New Century, a new report issued by the Maryland-based Democracy Collaborative.  The authors studied and report on 30 innovative community foundations  (29 in the States and one from Edmonton) that are doing much more than grant-making to effect change in their communities. In addition to highlighting the objectives, benefits, barriers and the steps for starting an impact investing program, the report identifies the following four strategies: Partnering with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) Creating loan pools Providing loan guarnatees Direct investment in local economic development efforts. The report also provides further details on each of the 30...

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Measuring Social Impact

Measuring Social Impact

How do we know if we’re succeeding?  We’re currently working with a US-based CDFI to refine and implement a usable and informative set of financial and impact metrics. As part of the process, we’ve uncovered some great examples from other funds.   Here are some of the best: SJF Ventures Impact Report – documents the impact of this 15-year old venture capital partnership The Reinvestment Fund – Impact Report from the Philadelphia-based CDFI Vermont Community Loan Fund’s most recent annual Social Impact Report – (Disclaimer – I still serve on one of their loan committees and was the founding Director…) If you have other examples, please share...

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