Solutions Finance Accelerator
The McConnell Foundation envisions a Canada in which the economy and social systems advance the wellbeing of all people, and in which the natural environment is stewarded for future generations. We use both our granting and investment strategies to achieve this goal.
However, even the total combined resources of McConnell and all other Canadian foundations would be nowhere near large enough to solve Canada’s most intractable social, economic and environmental problems. And while the Canadian and global impact investing markets have grown, there is a recognition that to mobilize the $6 trillion required annually to achieve the global United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we urgently need to find new ways to help unlock and access the much larger pool of available investment capital capable of filling this vital financing gap. Financial intermediaries play a key role in deploying this capital to the groups and communities helping to reach these goals.
This is why we are launching the Solutions Finance Accelerator — a new program aimed at accelerating the growth of a vibrant and innovative social finance marketplace with efficient and effective investment capital flowing to creating positive social and environmental impact at scale.
We define a Solutions Finance Intermediary as an entity that aggregates capital from a variety of investment sources and actively deploys it to advance social and environmental change in an innovative way and with the potential for exponential scale. Intermediaries could include (but are not limited to): financial institutions, funds, trusts, platforms, non-profits, co-ops, social enterprises or other financial entities constituted under Canadian law.
How the Accelerator Works
The Solutions Finance Accelerator program is designed to provide support to intermediaries working on innovative financial products that address market gaps in domains aligned with the SDGs in Canada. The Accelerator consists of three types of support designed to assist intermediaries in achieving their goals.
Access to funds
Successful applicants will have access to a mix of financial support, including concessionary capital. The program is intended to support intermediaries requiring operational funding at early stages of their journey. That is, intermediaries that are past the concept phase and that need support to begin their implementation. Funding will be provided for two stages of development:
1. Feasibility stage ($50K-$100K non-repayable funds):
This group includes intermediaries that have created a proven concept that has been successfully piloted, but that are not yet ready to implement and scale their models. They have brought together individuals with complementary expertise who, together, have thought through and designed the financial models that are sustainable and innovative. They now require support in conducting market research, further engaging with stakeholders, completing their legal framework, and developing the deal-flow of projects.
2. Take-off stage ($100K non-repayable funds and concessionary capital):
This group includes intermediaries that have achieved the milestones of the feasibility stage and are almost ready to operationalize their project. They may require support to test their models, scale their operational systems, hire additional talent, implement a strong governance model, and, most importantly, attract long-term private capital.
We will work with intermediaries to adjust terms and timelines that are most valuable to them and that, at the same time, facilitate the attraction of additional private capital.
Mentorship and Support:
Developing and scaling innovative financial products that address the fundamental social and environmental challenges of our time can feel slow and isolating. We recognize these challenges and are committed to providing successful applicants with capacity building and networking support.
Organizations in the feasibility and take-off stages frequently face similar roadblocks. Spending uninterrupted time together can allow them to break through these roadblocks at a much faster pace and with the added benefit of collective innovation. We will organize a number of learning and networking events for intermediaries to connect and learn from each other.
We aim to pair successful applicants with mentors who will accompany them throughout the course of the program. Our mentors will be recruited from a range of different institutions and domains, including but not limited to private and public capital market stakeholders and mature intermediaries.
Access to experienced service providers
We will coordinate access to a pool of experts across various fields who can provide technical support to successful applicants. The service providers will be a mix of traditional organizations — such as legal and accounting firms — and those delivering more impact focused services. By undertaking this work, we are striving to enhance the number and quality of service providers in the social finance marketplace.
July 2019: Call for Stage 1 applications
September 15, 2019: Stage 1 Application deadline. Download the application questions (for reference only) here. *Note: You must create an account on our online application form in order to apply. Please note that it may take up to 2-3 business days for your account to be approved.
September 2019: Shortlisted candidates are invited to submit Stage 2 applications.
November 2019: Deadline to submit Stage 2 application.
December 2019: Cohort of successful applicants announced