Supporting and facilitating the development of social purpose organizations will be critical to Canada’s economic, social, cultural, and environmental success today and in the future. Social enterprises run by social purpose groups are at various stages of growth in communities across Canada. Some people may be doing highly innovative work. Still, they may not recognize it as a social enterprise or be aware that they are eligible for financial assistance. Some people are working on a novel idea that is still in its early stages of development. Others are further along in their development and may be looking for resources to help them scale their efforts. In short, the ‘readiness’ of social purpose groups to receive funding varies significantly across Canada.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation is launching a round of IRP funding to help social purpose organizations increase their capacity and investment readiness, as well as boost women’s sector participation in the social finance market, so they can better access the Government of Canada’s proposed Social Finance Fund and other investment opportunities. The Foundation believes that encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation and the growth of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses can help women achieve tremendous economic success. The women’s sector will be better prepared to support these enterprises if they have more expertise and experience with social finance processes and technologies.
The Foundation hopes to increase women’s participation in social innovation and finance through the Investment Readiness Program funding. It is especially crucial for groups that help women who face several obstacles and are underrepresented in this sector.
What Is the Investment Readiness Program?
The Investment Readiness Program is designed to address this problem. The Government of Canada announced the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) in June 2019, a new $50 million fund aimed at assisting social purpose organizations (charities, non-profits, social enterprises, for-profits with a social purpose, and co-operatives) in building their capacity to participate in Canada’s growing social finance market. The IRP is also intended to assist social purpose organizations in preparing for the Government of Canada‘s more significant investment in social finance through the Social Finance Fund, a historic new $755 million commitment announced in November 2018 that will be phased in over ten years.
What Is the Goal of the Program?
The Foundation will help and encourage women-serving groups to grow and become ready to participate in the social innovation and social finance ecosystem. It could involve assistance to social-purpose organizations that aren’t currently considered part of the ecosystem. The Foundation aims to prioritize organizations that help women who face many obstacles in communities where they are most needed.
They hope to achieve the following goals with the Investment Readiness Funding:
- Increase the quantity and diversity of organizations participating in the social finance ecosystem.
- Increase access to expert advice and information. Contribute to learning about what works by raising awareness
- Throughout, use GBA+ to apply a gender perspective.
Organizations must meet the following criteria to be considered for funding:
Must hold a valid charitable number from the Canada Revenue Agency, be a member of a First Nation identified as a qualified done by the Canada Revenue Agency, or be collaborating with a partner who meets this criterion. Non-profit organizations, social businesses, and other non-charities may apply in collaboration with a registered charity. Individuals and sole proprietorship enterprises are not eligible for funding and cannot apply.
Impact Stream (currently accepting applications for Spring 2022 – March 31 – April 27): They are developing, launching, growing, or scaling a social enterprise operation/business venture that generates money and profit through the sale of goods/services; or they are exploring, developing, and launching a community-driven social innovation project (e.g., other social innovation projects, community bond raising project, outcomes contract project, etc.)
Catalyst Stream (coming soon – application portal will be online in Fall 2022):
They have developed, launched, or planned to establish a social enterprise that will produce money and profit from the sale of goods and services. This seed money is intended to help small-scale ventures or one more prominent project component get off the ground or flourish. Organizations could be experimenting with new ideas and approaches, launching social entrepreneurship and revenue-generating venture, or launching a community-based social innovation project.
System-Change Stream (coming soon – application site will be open in Fall 2022):
They have undertaken or plan to undertake a collaborative project that builds the ecosystem (e.g., resource development, research, reports, sector case studies, network development, etc.) in the intersecting fields of gender, charities/non-profits, and social finance.
This stream funds collaborative initiatives that address a systemic issue affecting social purpose organizations that serve or are led by women and non-binary persons. Systems change refers to programs that alter, shift, and transform structures, attitudes, power dynamics, and laws to produce long-term social, cultural, or environmental changes locally, regionally, and nationally.
Organizations that have previously received IRP grants are eligible to apply for additional funds by completing an online application. Previous IRP grant recipients must show how more funding will help them achieve their investment-ready goals by demonstrating milestones and successes and how further funding will help them achieve their investment readiness goals.
Only one of the three funding streams is open to organizations. You will not be able to apply to the Catalyst and System Streams in Fall 2022 if you apply to the Impact Stream in Spring 2022 and are awarded funding. If you are not accepted into the Impact Stream in the Spring of 2022, you can apply to the Catalyst or System Stream in the Fall of 2022.
The IRP Funding Guideline and Criteria offers details on the upcoming funding streams (Catalyst and System-Change) that will be accepting submissions in the fall of 2022.
Use the link below to register for the online application portal:
Once you have registered and logged in, please use the following link to access your application in progress:
Deadline: April 27, 2022, at 11:59 pm PST