Siksika Nation blazes a new trail in community economic development

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In it’s first year, Siksika Nation’s $2.7 M developmental loan fund has been fully deployed in loans to nation members starting or expanding businesses on and off reserve. The fund is the result of a joint partnership agreement between Siksika and Indian Business Corporation (IBC) in which $2M of band trust money was used to set up the fund at IBC who in turn loaned the money directly to nation members. Read more

A tough economy drives innovation in Aboriginal social finance.

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That’s to IBC, Alberta may be the centre of social finance in Canada

Calgary’s Indian Business Corporation (IBC) is a good example of social finance at work. By focusing on small business lending to First Nations entrepreneurs, IBC takes risks unthinkable for a bank or credit union. In 95% of cases, IBC’s loans are repaid in full and they are able to churn and contribute more capital to a long line of First Nations entrepreneurs waiting for financing. Getting loans paid back involves providing extensive pre and aftercare: everything from business planning to helping with receivables to tax filing. Federal and provincial programs help absorb the extra-ordinary costs of developmental lending, which in turn allows IBC to offer impact investors a chance to achieve their goals.

Terrapin has been fortunate to work closely with the team at IBC and enjoyed putting the following paper together.

Looking for HOPE – linking Health, Opportunity, Poverty and income inEquality.

Poverty, inequality fuelling suicide crisis, First Nations leader says - CBC News

Cross Lake Band Health Services

The Cree government of Pimicikamak has declared a state of emergency after a number of suicides in the Northern Manitoba community of Cross Lake. An emergency declaration will likely trigger a short-term emergency response and while immediate mental health services and community crisis supports are needed, more attention to the root causes of despair, hopelessness, and exclusion is required to effectively address Aboriginal suicide. Read more

Can closing the inequality gap be monetized?

I know how that sounds: borderline-heretical, and yet I do believe it’s the whole point of social finance. We are seeking ways of monetizing the efficiencies of social and environmental interventions proven to be (cost) effective. And so, we have a whole range of emerging strategies targeting so-called impact investors with a goal of increasing the capital available to move the needle on a range of vexing social and environmental challenges. So what’s the hitch? Maybe we’re not focused on the right activities?


Cartoon by Jim Hubbard January 2014

Friends at Community Food Centres Canada recently Read more

In case you’re having trouble sleeping — Social Impact Bonds.


If you’re like me, you’ve sat through a number of presentations on social impact bonds (SIBs). And if you’re like me you’ve vacillated between paying close attention and head nodding. I mean no disrespect to my learned friends and colleagues who are deeply versed in the mechanics and excited by the potential of SIBs. For me — given all the attention they have received in recent years, SIBs remain mysterious, in part because most of the examples we hear about are from other places such as the US & UK. Read more

“The words “social finance” are everywhere and nowhere are they clearly defined.”

Social finance requires the patience and determination of a turtle

Social finance requires the patience and determination of a turtle.

Most people I speak to about social finance tend to agree — financial tools offer compelling new ways to think about funding social change. The biggest challenge we experience is in securing commitments from these same potential investors.

Part of the problem is a lack of Read more

Regent Park girls and trans workshop builds bikes, confidence


Nathalie Pulla Abasto enjoys learning how brakes work and doing the wiring. (© Toronto Star)

On volunteering at Charlie’s…

Charlie’s Bike Joint is just East of Sherbourne on Queen Street in Toronto. My guess is that Queen and Sherbourne is one of the toughest corners in the city — lots of visible hard living. I started taking my sweet, sweet bike (circa ’86 Specialized Rockhopper) to Charlie’s for service about three years ago when I was commuting daily from the Beach to downtown. Read more