Shorefast: Connecting communities to investment opportunities

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.


Shorefast is registered charity with the mission to build cultural, ecological and economic resilience on Fogo Island and to serve other communities by sharing place-based models of economic development. Shorefast’s owns a suite of social businesses on Fogo Island – including the world renowned Fogo Island Inn. These businesses are designed to be economic engines for the community: they create meaningful employment, contribute to the local economy and generate income to be reinvested through Shorefast’s charitable programmes. This form of contemporary philanthropy leverages donations and deploys business strategies toward socially beneficial ends. Shorefast is in the process of scaling this holistic approach to community economic development to serve Fogo Island and other communities for generations to come.


Diane Hodgins, ShorefastWe invest in the assets inherent in communities. The human ways of knowing that have emerged from livelihoods and relationships deeply tied to the places in which people live, are essential for 21st century life in Canada and around the world.  As Shorefast’s activities grew and became more known, we were increasingly contacted by others interested in applying learnings from our model to their own region. We realized that in order to provide these communities with the kind of support they needed, we needed to create a fund that would help bridge the gap between macro capital and local community implementation.”
–Diane Hodgins, Chief Financial Officer


The Community Finance Fund

Shorefast Key Indicators: SDGs 1, 8, and 11. Projected Fund Size: $10M, Investment Focus: Fixed Income, Geographic Impact: Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and beyond.Communities across Canada lack the infrastructure to link into the global economy. To address this gap, Shorefast is in the process of developing a Community Finance Fund to help attract and retain large-scale capital in place-based communities. The fund will take a two-pronged approach: 1) entice investors to provide capital at the community level, in partnership with community stakeholders (rather than at the individual business level) and 2) support the communities receiving the funds with technical expertise as well as financial and economic capacity building tools to help them further leverage the investment. 

The Community Finance Fund is part of Shorefast’s Community Economies Pilot – a pan-Canadian initiative designed to strengthen community economies and secure a prosperous future. The Pilot will help build the cross-sectoral collaboration required across the three pillars that support society: government, business and community. Five entrepreneurial communities across Canada have been engaged to contribute to the Pilot as “Prototype Communities”: South Vancouver Island, BC; Hamilton, ON; London, ON; Prince Edward County, ON; and Fogo Island, NL. The Prototype Communities will distil place-based know-how, identify best and promising practices for community-based economic development, and inform the development of tools to amplify the body of knowledge. The Prototype Communities will be the first cohort towards Shorefast’s longer-term vision of a Community Economies Network.

The Pilot is an opportunity to gather data around what kind of support is needed for widespread place-based community economic development uptake. Learnings from this pilot will be used to develop a suite of toolkits and supports, such as the Economic Nutrition Certification Mark (ENCM) that was developed for Shorefast’s social businesses. Just like nutritional labels on food packaging, the ENCM allows investors and clients to make informed decisions about how the impact of their investing and purchasing choices by detailing where the money goes. 

In this R&D phase, the fund is seeking a mix of grants and forgivable or patient capital from individuals or institutions — such as foundations, private philanthropy, family investments or community funds — who are interested in supporting place-based economic development.


Learn more about Shorefast