Blogs & Comment

Investing in Canadian Social Entrepreneurs

It you havent yet come across Kiva, its an organization that lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan, you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.
I find the idea inspiring and have been talking about it over the last few months with clients and colleagues. In a meeting yesterday with the United Way of Greater Toronto, it occurred to me that the Kiva concept could also be used to facilitate micro financing for Canadian non-profit organizations that want to establish social ventures.
Heres the situation. On the one hand, many non-profits are faced with an increase in demand for their services. On the other hand, theres a paucity of new sources of revenue to fund the necessary programs and services. So, many groups are trying to establish related social enterprises that serve their mission and generate incremental revenue.
This is somewhat unknown territory for the non-profits and for the individual and corporations who support them through donations, sponsorships, and partnerships.
If the Kiva concept was applied, in addition to supporting charities through conventional means, a person or a business could also make a non-charitable, re-payable social investment. I bet this would also appeal to people who dont usually support non-profits. Ultimately, this could be a solid way to generate more income for much-needed services and encourage non-profits to be more out-come oriented as needed to re-pay loans and deliver maximum social ROI.