A new initiative has just moved into the building under the SiG@MaRS banner: the Social Venture Exchange (SVX), which hopes to drive good investments for a better world.

Over the next few years, we’ll develop and pilot an exchange that will assess and attract sustainable financing for ventures with a social mission, from enterprising non-profits to social purpose businesses.  We want to drive financial capital towards improved social and environmental outcomes.  In short, we are trying to attract more money to drive a more just society.
The initiative is a partnership between Social Innovation Generation (SiG) at MaRS, the TMX Group and Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation, with founding support from the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB).

It is an ambitious and exciting project that requires a significant amount of foundational work.

Universally, we already know that there is a stable and growing base of existing and emerging innovative ventures with an ability to have demonstrable social and environmental impact, from affordable housing and green energy to sustainable farming and enterprises that hire and/or retrain at-risk youth.  But these ventures often lack sufficient financial capital to realize scale and/or their true potential for impact.  As an ancillary but necessary benefit, many of these ventures can also generate a financial return, which is driving a growing interest from investors.  If 1% of total globally managed assets moved in this direction, $500 billion could flow to these ventures over the next ten years. This is the very real premise of the emerging impact investing sector, which is being driven by global leaders from the Rockefeller Foundation to J.P. Morgan.

The SVX team is currently building an understanding of the demand side of capital by profiling non-profits and for-profit social purpose businesses in Ontario through the Social Finance Census building on the work of the Social Venture Registry.  We are also developing case studies of social ventures and impact investing deals that have already taken place in Canada.  Please encourage your colleagues to complete the survey and feel free to send along any recommendations you may have for interesting case studies. As we move into our pilot phase, you will have an opportunity to list on the exchange if you are an entrepreneur with a double or triple bottom-line venture.

We are also working on building a base of potential investors so we can understand and apply the supply side of capital to investment opportunities when they arise in our pilot phase.  We know that there is a growing interest in impact investing in Ontario and across the country.  If you are an institutional investor and would like to be engaged get more information, please contact us.  You can reach me, Adam Spence, Manager, Special Projects at SiG@MaRS at aspence@marsdd.com or Annie Malhotra, SVX Project Coordinator at amalhotra@marsdd.com.

We will certainly provide an update on this work as it develops over the coming months and years ahead.

If you would like to find out more about the Social Venture Exchange (SVX), please visit our website at www.socialventureexchange.org.  And if you’re really keen, feel free to visit us at the SiG@MaRS office on the main floor.  We’d be happy to chat with you about the project.

Adam Spence

Adam is the Director, SVX at MaRS. Adam helped found the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing and the School for Social Entrepreneurs – Ontario. Prior to MaRS, he was Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB). See more…