June 4, 2016

Social Investment Funds

Social investment funds (SIFs) act as intermediaries by pooling capital from a variety of sources and investing in social sector organizations and projects. There is no standard approach for these funds, as each have been designed and implemented according to a unique set of objectives, contexts and outcomes (New Market Funds 2014). SIFs have typically been used to invest in service delivery organizations that face barriers to accessing finance from traditional channels. SIFs could also invest in organizations that deliver products that benefit migrants and refugees and projects for migrants, such as affordable housing.

Research conducted by Purpose Capital and the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation identified a few examples of SIFs that have invested in social enterprises and projects that support migrant settlement and integration, including:


The Community Forward Fund (CFF) is a not-for-profit and a registered investment fund manager, established in 2010, to provide loan capital to the not-for-profit sector in Canada. Three community foundations (Ottawa, Hamilton and Kitchener) provided initial investments in the fund that allowed it to grow. Other early partners include Trillium Foundation and Vancity Credit Union. The CFF does not specifically target investments or loans for the settlement and integration sector, but it provided loans to some migrant-serving organizations. For example, the OCISO Nonprofit Housing Corporation received a loan for program support and for a building to provide affordable housing for migrants and refugees in Ottawa. CFF has also worked with Farm Start in Guelph on the potential for loans to new farmers, many of whom are newcomers to Canada.


The Social Enterprise Fund (SEF) aims to address a lack of access to capital for non-profits, social enterprises, small businesses, and individual entrepreneurs (with any corporate structure) by providing loans to organizations in Alberta that are launching or growing a social enterprise. While the Fund does not specifically target settlement and integration, it has provided a loan to a social enterprise (the Centre for Race and Culture) that offers diversity training to organizations on a fee-for-service basis.


The Toronto Enterprise Fund (TEF) is funded by United Way of Greater Toronto and three levels of government: the federal Homelessness Partnership Strategy; the City of Toronto and the Ontario Provincial Government. TEF aims to support social enterprises in the Toronto and Greater Toronto Area that have a focus on employment opportunities for marginalized people. This can include newcomers to Canada, but like the other social investment funds identified in the Purpose Capital and Carleton Centre for Community Innovation Report, there is no specific focus on this sector. Several social enterprises funded by the TEF directly aim to address employment barriers facing migrant and refugee populations (for example, Haween Enterprises, Furniture Bank and Interpreter Services Toronto).


The model proposes the establishment of an endowment fund capitalized by donations for refugees living in overseas camps, that would be used to invest in the settlement and integration of refugees in their new host societies.


The fund provides loans to social enterprises, including businesses that hire migrants. For example, LEAF has provided eight loans to Green Cab, a company that provides jobs to low-income individuals, the majority of which are immigrants.

REFUGEE IMMIGRANT FUND: Urban Farm Recovery Project (US)

The RSF Social Investment Fund focuses on Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship. The Fund has provided seed funding to agriculture programs that support refugees and asylum seekers. For example, the RSF Fund invested in the Refugee Immigration Fund, which offers asylum orientation and support such as programs that are provide refugees with psychological healing supports.


The foundation provides targeted grants to organizations and initiatives that address migrant homelessness and promote integration.

 Contribute your examples of investment funds for migrant and refugee integration.