The tool SEF uses to help social entrepreneurs is debt financing, primarily in the form of loans. Our loans come in all shapes and sizes, built to fit the particular needs and challenges of each client. Mortgages, bridge financing, scaling the enterprise – we have done them all.

Here are some common questions that we hear:

What can we use an SEF loan for? Are there restrictions on how we can use the money?

SEF does not put restrictions on how our clients use the money. We consider all the costs of making the enterprise work and have financed everything from construction and equipment costs to manpower, training, marketing and sales campaign costs.

A great way to see how SEF loans can be used is to take a look at what our clients have done so far. You can find out more here.

How much interest do you charge?

Our interest rates reflect our evaluation of the risk of the investment, but generally range between one to three points above bank prime rates.

What kind of loan can I get?

Currently, most of our loans are term loans. However, we are always open to a conversation with our clients to find a solution that works best for them.

What repayment schedules does SEF require?

We work with our clients and their resource needs on a case-by-case basis to determine what works best to ensure the success of their enterprise.

Our mandate allows SEF to accept a greater degree of risk than a traditional lending agency and to be more patient in our repayment terms. But that doesn’t mean that SEF does not employ the same level of rigour in accessing the potential of proposals for financing. We are as determined as any lending institution to have each and every loan repaid within the agreed-upon terms. The long-term viability of SEF depends on our loans being repaid – with interest.

How do you define a social enterprise?

There are almost as many definitions of social enterprise and social entrepreneurs as there are individuals working in the sector. But one of the most straightforward definitions is from the 2010 Canadian Task Force on Social Finance:

“… any organization or business that uses market-oriented production and sale of goods and/or services to pursue a public benefit mission. This covers many organizational forms – ranging from enterprising charities, non-profits and cooperatives to social purposes businesses, which are for-profit businesses designed to fulfill a social mission.”

Isn’t SEF just duplicating services that already exist?

No. SEF is unique in its ability to tailor its support to the specific needs of each client. We can work with you to come up with a loan structure that works for your proposal. We like to think of SEF as very imaginative and patient capital.

Do you have grant programs?


Do you offer training programs?

No. There are many excellent training opportunities available across the country. Find out more in our Resources section.