Profile - The MaRS Centre for Impact Investment

Profile - The MaRS Centre for Impact Investment

14 June 2016

We recently profiled Social Innovation Generation (SiG), a Canadian organisation leading the way on social innovation in the country. We think they’re a great model to draw inspiration from for our ambitious idea – Social Innovation NI.

SiG have a wide range of initiatives and off shoots that are helping to grow social innovation in Canada and positively affect the lives of Canadians on a daily basis. One of these we’re going to look at in a bit more detail is the MaRS Centre for Impact Investment.

The Centre for Impact Investing is a social finance hub and project incubator that acts as a neutral collaboration space for all sectors — government, community and private — to strengthen the collective ability to mobilize private capital for public good.

They lead and support the development of impact investing in Canada by supporting the following types of activities including supporting the development of new financial products for investment and enabling efficient market growth avenues for investors, social ventures and funds that deliver both a social or environmental benefit and an economic return.

As well as this, their work advances the use of impact measurement tools and strategies for the for-profit, conduct research to support a positive and empowering public policy environment and not-for-profit sectors, and provides educational and convening opportunities to advance the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in Canada.

The Centre aims to strengthen the emerging impact investing marketplace by establishing frameworks that more efficiently connect people and their innovative ideas to private capital and enable people and local communities to tackle complex societal problems.

By doing this, they hope to ultimately foster more resilient communities.

But, why create this centre in the first place?

MaRS say: “From persistent poverty to climate change, we continue to face entrenched social and environmental problems. Fortunately, a growing number of charities, not-for-profit organizations, co-ops and for-profit companies are building business models that tackle these problems.

“They’re turning to investors for financing to launch and grow innovative new programs, become sustainable and scale their impact.

“As a result, new investment opportunities are emerging that offer investors financial returns in addition to positive social and environmental impact.

“While there is an expanding base of talent and leadership supporting this work, there is currently limited coordination and no clear entry point for the emerging impact investing industry in Canada”.

The Centre builds on the foundational work of the MaRS Discovery District and Social Innovation Generation, including the landmark report “Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good” which was prepared by the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance.

As we can see, the realms of social finance and social innovation are intrinsically linked in this work, is this a lesson for the Trust, and the VCSE Sector overall in Northern Ireland?

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