Posts Tagged ‘Social Finance’

Discovering the world of Social Finance


This article was originally published on the RECODE website. Click here to see the original version. 

By Alexandra Reda, International Business Graduate, Concordia University

The world of social finance and impact investing was new to me.


This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Social Finance team at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation—an experience unlike any I’ve had elsewhere. Prior to this internship, I had a very traditional finance banking background and had worked at a portfolio management company for the last three years.

All this quickly changed, as the team taught me about the Foundation’s current portfolio and their strategy for the coming years.

Currently, the portfolio is made up of diverse risk-return profiles, which are directed to charities, nonprofit, for-profit social ventures, for-profit start-ups and even corporations. Despite the variety in the portfolio, all investments follow the Foundation’s impact investing objectives and deliver impact on one or more levels of society and societal change. This tactic can lead to a ripple effect as other foundations and institutions (for example schools) begin to think of innovative ways to allocate their endowments.

One of the Foundation’s investments—$5M with the Canadian venture capital firm Real Ventures—caught my attention. Its mission is to “serve entrepreneurs and nurture the communities in which they thrive”. Researching the companies that are part of Real Ventures portfolio, I was pleased to discover an abundance of innovative ideas serving a social purpose. For example, Causemo aims to make charitable giving social and mobile. The company intends to launch its own app enabling cause discovery, donations, tracking and social features. The Real Ventures fund has allowed them to reach 15,000 donors in 2015. Another example is a company called Varage Sale. This startup aims to make the process of finding, buying or selling used goods safer and more convenient than mainstream options such as Craigslist, eBay or classified ads, while also creating bonds between neighbours. Discovering funds like Real Ventures that support social entrepreneurs inspired me to start asking myself: How can I help people in an innovative way?


Pioneering investors of 21st century systems change infrastructure – who are you?

Guest post by Jennifer Morgan, Founder of the Finance Innovation Lab
Note: Originally posted on the Cambridge University Centre for Social Innovation Blog. 

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

Jennifer Morgan_ENCathedrals have been some of the most important infrastructure projects in the history of humankind. They have been places where people have come together for a higher purpose, to connect, to make sense of the world and to be together in community.

In many ways, they were unique infrastructure projects compared to projects of today: they took lifetimes to build; they were built with many generations in mind; there were no immediate or tangible returns on investment and they were built for a higher purpose that served the common good.

So what is the modern day equivalent of the Cathedral infrastructure? What is the intergenerational infrastructure that is needed for deeper rooted social innovation to evolve our values and cultures from ‘EGO’ to ‘ECO’?

Cathedral And Abbey Church Of Saint Alban In St.albans, Uk (more…)

Reflections on Social Finance and Impact Investing

PhilipauthorSocial-FinanceblogThe exposure I am receiving during my internship at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, to the engaging and exciting field of Social Finance, has left me with a different world view – revealing the significant impact investment decisions made throughout a lifetime can really have. One of the quotes that has stuck with me from the 2014 Social Finance Forum that was held in Toronto at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, is a question that Joel Solomon from Renewal Funds asked: “What is your money doing right now?” What I take away from this quote is the importance of being aware of the impact corporations and organizations have on society, and how this will shape the future. (more…)