New report explores links between social finance & public health

Terrapin spent a big chunk of the past year working with the Public Health Agency of Canada exploring links between social finance and public health. Action on Social Determinants of Health Through Social Finance – An Evidence Review, examines the relationship between social finance and social determinants of health in order to understand the influence each has on the other to address health and socioeconomic outcomes.

Bannock Tea and Grill, based on Siksika Nation AB, thrives thanks to the hard work of its founder Alrey Brass and financing he received from Indian Business Corporation, a developmental lender based in Calgary AB.

Drawing from published research, reports and interviews with key informants in the fields of social economy and public health, the report reviews key concepts of social finance and social determinants of health, presents evidence of the links between the two, and provides approaches on how to expand social finance to address social determinants of health in the Canadian context.

“Social Finance and Social Determinants of Health don’t exist on the same conceptual level. Social finance is one of the ways in which social determinants of health can be addressed… a way of funding interventions that can focus on upstream social determinants like poverty and social exclusion.” Michael Roy, 2017

While much attention is paid to complex forms of social finance such as social impact bonds and pay for performance contracts, social enterprise and developmental lending stand out as less complex community-based social finance approaches that directly address social determinants of health by providing jobs and financing options for people socially excluded from mainstream employment and from accessing small business loans.

“Within social finance there is a tension between the need to be grounded in community and the idea of scaling up and replicating successful interventions. It is essential to nurture the structures that will allow community-level interventions to flourish.” Tessa Hebb, 2018

As always we are keen to know what you think. Please send your thoughts, questions, comments to or leave a comment. Happy Summer! sw