“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 common understanding of terms and concepts related to social finance and a lack of appreciation for the great diversity of experience and cultural meaning among communities, politicians, policy makers and investors — across Canada, from North to South, East to West.

A new paper from the EMES International Research Network entitled Social Enterprise in Canada: Context, Models and Institutions, is the part of EMES’ International Comparative Social Enterprise Models project. This is the gritty academic stuff necessary to put all stakeholders on the same page.

Here’s whatJJ McMurtry, the Canadian lead on the project had to say about this research.

The macro level research on social finance in Canada hasn’t really been done before so it’s a chance to get a window on that world.

The words ‘social finance’ are everywhere and nowhere are they clearly defined. Government, academics, policy makers, the public should be interested in the genesis and variety of practices across the country.

This paper is the first of five papers. It provides a national snapshot and a way to capture what’s happening at this moment in time — when social finance is emerging. We hope our readers will will gain insight into an important field that’s both emerging and often contested.