The Solution Finance Accelerator, whose first cohort ran from 2020-2021, contributes to a vision of a vibrant social finance marketplace with efficient and effective investment capital flowing to social and environmental development at scale. The SFA aims to expand the Canadian social finance marketplace by supporting a group of impact investing intermediaries to develop and launch their funds. These organizations are disrupting the traditional means of structuring their business models, be it by leveraging technologies or applying new financial mechanisms to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This series profiles the nine participants supported through the Accelerator.
Chantier de l’économie sociale
Chantier de l’économie sociale (Chantier) is an independent nonprofit corporation. Since 1999, Chantier has been devoted to the development of Québec’s social economy, for the benefit of collectives, including non-profit organizations and cooperatives.
“The Accelerator has truly accelerated the process of setting up the fund, through a feasibility study as well as developing its legal framework. We were able to clarify the financial viability of the project, and at what level we could design it,” says Charles Gagnon, Development Officer.
What is the Community Bond Fund?
The idea of creating a fund dedicated to community bonds began to take shape for the Chantier de l’économie sociale following a study conducted by the organization Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire (TIESS) in 2016. The study demonstrated the need for this type of fund for Quebec’s social economy. Since the project’s outset, Chantier has attracted interest from multiple actors at different levels of government as well as private investors.
Social enterprises’ capitalization needs have been tested by the Réseau d’investissement social du Québec (RISQ), which developed transferable tools. Chantier used RISQ’s experience and tools in developing the plan for its funds through an innovative capitalization tool.
How will the fund work?
The fund works in the form of community bonds issued by a community organization or a social enterprise, and offers capital in the form of matching development objectives, pre-commissioning, consolidation, or growth. By focusing on needs of social economy projects, the fund intends to be a financial incentive to develop the community bonds market in Québec. This means community members may invest in nonprofit organization projects in the form of community bonds or debt securities; these can be paired with a certificate and/or an interest rate. The Cinéma du Parc is an example of a nonprofit organization that has issued community bonds in order to renovate a theatre; another example is Le Grand Costumier (Les Affaires, in French only).
Highlights from the Solutions Finance Accelerator:
- A feasibility study was conducted and a legal framework in which the fund could evolve was created.
- Thanks to the Solutions Finance Accelerator, submissions were made to the City of Montreal and Québec government, in particular about the government’s course of action in the social economy (PAGES) regarding experimentation in participation.
In October 2021, the Chantier, in collaboration with the TIESS, launched l’ampli, a resource tool for participative finance.