Although certainly not new (think of the cooperative movement in the 1840s, or the first thrift shop in the 1890s), the power of social impact investing has captured the imagination of those seeking to meet a wide range of social, environmental and cultural challenges.
The Canadian Task Force on Social Finance has defined social enterprise as “any organization or business that uses market-oriented production and sale of goods and/or services to pursue a public benefit mission.” Social entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, but are united in their passion for change, using business to power that change, and a desire to be more self-reliant in creating the change they seek in the community.
The Social Enterprise Fund was created to provide financial support, in the form of loans, to organizations across Alberta that are developing a social enterprise.
SEF was established in 2008 through a unique collaboration between the Edmonton Community Foundation and the City of Edmonton. Other contributors to the fund have included the United Way, Alberta Real Estate Foundation and several private contributors.
So far, the fund has invested over $35 million in more than 65 projects. More than $14 million has been paid back, ready to do more good in the community as new loans.
SEF plays a role in the larger community of those who are interested in the concept of social enterprise. We work with partners and organizations across the province, the country and internationally to expand the practical understanding of how social enterprise works “on the ground,” as well as contributing to the training opportunities available to social entrepreneurs.