Canada’s independent Task Force on Social Finance was launched today. The task force chair is Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS, and the initiative is also supported by Social Innovation Generation. Social finance is a broad umbrella that includes new ways of thinking, new ways of financing, new models of collaboration and new partnerships that are aimed at age-old issues and concerns in communities, the environment, health, housing, education and related areas. Our increasingly complex and dynamic social systems require complex and dynamic responses. The task force is expected to report before the end of the year.
Former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin, a task force member, says: “We have had tremendous success in Canada in unleashing business to create wealth. We have learned that entrepreneurship is an unbeatable force. Government unleashed the power of business entrepreneurs when it provided them with needed public goods and functioning capital markets. Government needs to do the same for social entrepreneurs by providing them with the wherewithal to succeed.”
Bill Young of Social Capital Partners, another task force member, says: “As a society, we need to find more sustainable ways to solve some of our structural social challenges. Innovative business models that generate both financial and social returns hold great promise. At the moment Canada lags behind a number of other countries in creating a favourable environment for these hybrid approaches.”
Other task force members offer other powerful and compelling reasons for this new initiative:
“Canadians have a long history of community building. Impact investing would allow the country to augment that spirit of building with financial resources in order to materially accelerate and improve social and environmental outcomes,” says Tim Jackson, CEO, Accelerator Centre, Associate VP of Commerialization at University of Waterloo, and a task force member.