Canada’s Social Disruption Advice for NSW

Allyson Hewitt Speaking at Sydney Startup Hub

High-profile Canadian Social Disruptor Allyson Hewitt, who helped secure $800 million from her government for social innovation projects, said NSW could emulate Canada’s successful model.

Hewitt, in Australia as a guest of the Don Dustan Foundation, told a forum in Sydney that the first $50 million of the government’s new Social Finance Fund would be spent helping charitable organisations upskill to become investment ready.

Canada is embracing impact investing which promise, long-term funding for charities tackling problems like homelessness, indigenous disadvantage, at-risk youth and refugees.

Under the model, private investors put up funding to charities to deliver social programs or infrastructure. Investors are repaid as goals and outcomes are reached.

She said the independent government advisory group was key to the success of the project.

“We wanted to build a system in Canada to flourish that incorporated the needs of the most vulnerable people,” said Hewitt.

Hewitt was one of a group of 17 Canadian representatives that spent more than a year developing the plan to support social impact investment.

“We were co-creating with Government, which has a tendency to take control and that just doesn’t work,” said Hewitt. “We had to push back at times. The government convened our group, but they didn’t own us.”

Hewitt said the first $50 million, of Canada’s new Social Finance fund, would be released in months, with the money to be spent on preparing charities to accept investment, rather than grants.

A further $755 million of Canada’s new Social Finance Fund will be rolled out over the next 10-years.

Anyone can apply for funds if they can demonstrate how their investment will generate an economic & social return.  Applications may also include an environmental return.