"... even more important to us is the sense that we are working together and "through" PeaceWorks as a "for profit" company to help our friends and neighbours in the "not for profit" realm. It is this sense of "partnership" that adds something special beyond the usual relationship with a developer, and it speaks to our acute belief as a company in social justice and our responsibility to be a voice for peace in our community. With best in class custom software solutions and a shared perspective of community, ours has been a uniquely satisfying business relationship that we look forward to continuing for many more years to come."
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Social Finance Forum Attracts Diverse Group
By Jennifer Neutel, Axiom News, December 21, 2011
Event provides opportunities for networking, brainstorming and exploring new ideas
TORONTO – At last week’s Social Finance Forum, attendees from different sectors and places dug into conversation about moving forward impact investing in Canada.
Alex Kjorven, project manager of the Dec. 13-14 event hosted by the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, says the variety of backgrounds of people in the room was “amazing.”
More than impact investing industry people attended, as some participants were completely new to the social finance space. Attendees included representatives from social enterprises and other professional services.
Every session had a lot of questions and engagement from attendees, notes Alex. A couple of the sessions saw attendees roll up their sleeves and work through questions, coming out with new knowledge, she says.
Hari Stirbet is a finance manager at PeaceWorks Technology Solutions, a for-profit business that invests the majority of its profits into the not-for-profit sector through subsidized services.
He says that because the profits are reinvested, venture capitals are not finding the company very attractive, so they are looking at options in the impact investing industry.
During the conference he says he learned “there are as many investing styles and objectives as investors are out there,” and a lot of networking needs to happen.
“We need to have a clear story and a compelling story, but at the same time you have to have a good business plan,” says Hari.
The Social Finance Forum provides an opportunity to network with other social venture entrepreneurs and investors, he says.
“Overall, hopefully we can make a difference,” he adds.
PricewaterhouseCoopers associate Katie Sokalsky says she attended the forum because she works with a lot of financial institutions, investment brokers and major banks.
“This is a really new area and where the market’s headed, so as someone who works in that field I think it’s important to know where the social innovation is and where’s it headed,” she tells Axiom News.
Katie says she enjoyed the morning panel that featured Nonprofit Finance Fund CEO Antony Bugg-Levine, Chantier de l’économie sociale president and executive director Nancy Neamtan, Macquarie Capital Markets Canada Ltd. chairman Stanley Hartt, and J.W. McConnell Family Foundation president and CEO Stephen Huddart.
Another highlight was taking part in the Idea Jam, where Katie brainstormed ideas with people who shared her table. She notes it was a diverse group, including a director of the TMX and a vice-president at World Wildlife Fund.
“The most amazing thing about this conference is that it’s innovative, we’re talking about really frontier things in the financial sector and it’s such a diverse group of people,” says Katie.
Trevor David is the president of AfriCana Village & Museum, a proposed non-profit social enterprise destination concept celebrating the African-Canadian cultural heritage tourism destination on Toronto’s waterfront.
He says he came to the conference to network and articulate his dream to others, as access to capital is a challenge.
“I’m hoping to engage the social finance movement and the players and say work with us to not only address marginalized communities and problem alleviation but you can also make a good return on your investment by partnering with us,” says Trevor.
Leaving the event, Trevor says his biggest takeaway is the hope that through conversations more people may come alongside his project.
Visit http://socialfinanceforum.marsdd.com/ to learn more about the event.
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