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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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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Impact Investment Due Diligence

Impact Investment Due Diligence

We recently provided due diligence reports on impact investments for charitable foundations in the US.  Due diligence clients have included the Vermont Community Foundation, High Meadows Fund and the Castanea Foundation.  All three foundations are leaders in using impact investments to further advance their public-purpose missions.  The Vermont Community Foundation is committed to building philanthropic resources that will sustain healthy and vital Vermont communities now and into the future.  High Meadows is extremely concerned about the impact of a changing climate.  They focus their activities on energy, land use and sustainable agriculture.  Castanea’s mission is to conserve and protect agriculturally productive and environmentally significant land and water resources in its target region. The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF) is a leader among community foundations in impact investments.  In 2002, VCF’s Board made the commitment to invest up to 5% of its capital pool in mission-related projects within the state.  By the end of 2013, the foundation had over $7 million invested in Vermont-based organizations and businesses.  Initial investments were made in regional intermediaries like community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and venture funds; more recently the fund has made direct investments in businesses and organizations.  VCF helped develop the Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investing, now used by community foundations across the US. The High Meadows Fund is committed to promoting vibrant communities and a healthy natural environment while encouraging long-term economic vitality in Vermont. The Fund helps Vermonters mitigate the impact of climate change and adapt to its consequences, such as extreme weather events.   High Meadows invests a portion of its assets in enterprises that encourage new farm and food businesses, land conservation, and building performance improvements that lower the reliance on fossil fuels, typically through pooled...

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Best Practices – Policies to Achieve Energy Efficiency

Best Practices – Policies to Achieve Energy Efficiency

Nancy Wasserman of Sleeping Lion Consulting collaborated with Chris Neme of Energy Futures Group to create a summary of the most effective policies than can be adopted by local to national governments to promote energy efficiency.  The Manual, published by the Regulatory Assistance Program identifies foundational mechanisms, implementation mechanisms, and supporting mechanisms. The foundational mechanisms include Integrated Resource Planning, standards, and market design, while the supporting and pricing mechanisms feature structures for programs, funding, information and labeling, tax policy, R&D and training. The paper describes how each policy mechanism operates, assesses its likely effectiveness, and identifies best practices. The paper also identifies jurisdictions that have successfully applied the policies...

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Mobilizing Capital to Transform a State’s Energy/Economy

Mobilizing Capital to Transform a State’s Energy/Economy

Sleeping Lion collaborated with Catalyst Financial Group to prepare a guidance document (2MB) outlining the financial requirements for how Vermont can achieve 80% renewable energy by 2030.  The document was prepared for the Energy Action Network (EAN), an active network of nonprofit, business and government leaders working to transform Vermont’s energy economy by focusing on capital mobilization, technological innovation, regulatory reform and public engagement.  The guidance document has helped to inform policy and finance players and was followed by a Clean Energy Finance...

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