In the 2015 Federal Budget, the Government of Canada announced its plans to create a “Social Finance Accelerator” initiative (“SFA”).  The Budget announcement was brief and did not explain exactly how the SFA would work.

On June 5, 2015, the Government published a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) that contains more details about the SFA.  The Government’s intention is to award up to three contracts to establish an SFA in each of three service regions: (1) the Western provinces (including the territories); (2) Ontario; and (3) Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.  The deadline to submit a proposal is 2:00pm (EDT) on July 17, 2015.  Information about what to include in the proposal can be found here.

The RFP documents indicate that each of the entities that are awarded contracts will be required to select four to six promising project concepts that need access to social finance.  The entities will identify the projects through posting calls for concepts online, dissemination information about the SFA through email, direct engagement with potential participants, and other means.

Upon identifying the project concepts, each of the entities will be required to provide “innovative business development services” to advance the investment-readiness of the projects that are selected.  These services may include:

  • Business planning and advice, brokerage and advisory services, mentorship, prototyping, and scaling up;
  • Management of incoming investments (such as grants, loans, and equity) and service contracts;
  • Providing networking opportunities; and
  • Connecting participating organizations and individuals with potential investors.

The entities will also be required to provide work plans and regular status reports to Employment and Social Development Canada (“EDSC”).  Their work must be completed by November 20, 2018.

Once these initial contracts have expired, ESDC will assess whether the SFA created meaningful value for all of the participants and the social impacts of the SFA.  It is presumed that the results of this assessment will be used to determine whether the SFA will continue to operate and whether any adjustments should be made.