Through the Investment Readiness Program, successful applicants will receive between $10,000 and $100,000 to invest in their social enterprise to help make an even greater positive change in their community.

Seeing the growth potential in social enterprise

New Investment Readiness non-repayable capital helps social purpose business grow

Social enterprise: A mission-driven organization aiming to sell goods or services to earn revenue, while also helping achieve positive social, cultural or environmental results.

Do you have an awesome idea for a business concept or project that will also make the North Okanagan a better place?

Bringing that idea to fruition may be easier than ever with the federal Investment Readiness Program, a new $50-million fund to help social purpose organizations participate in the growing social finance market.

The IRP also helps these organizations prepare for the Government of Canada’s broader investment in ​social finance​ via the ​Social Finance Fund​, a historic $755-million commitment expected this year.

“Business isn’t only about the bottom line,” explains Leanne Hammond, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, which has partnered with counterparts in Central Okanagan, South Okanagan Similkameen and Community Foundations of Canada to administer the IRP program and distribute the funds for the Okanagan.

“Community leaders know that business can be done differently, and can be a tool for social innovation that unlocks effective solutions to pressing social, cultural and environmental concerns.”

Here’s how it works:

What is it? Through the Investment Readiness Program, successful applicants will receive between $10,000 and $100,000 to invest in their social enterprise to help make an even greater positive change in their community.

What’s possible? Funds can be used to research, launch, design, measure and scale up your social enterprise to achieve your sustainability plan to take on investment in the future.

Who’s eligible? You can apply to the Investment Readiness Program if you are a: charity; non-profit; co-op; or for-profit social enterprise – a social purpose business.

What can funds be used for? The intention is for groups to access outside expert advice and services or create dedicated staff capacity, such as business planning, accounting, branding or legal services, brokerage, financial modelling, tendering and bid writing, product development, market analysis and more.

Some restrictions do apply – core operating costs are NOT covered, such as ongoing administration costs, rent or procuring real estate. Projects must be in Canada and funds cannot be used for a single individual or for federal, provincial or municipal government agencies (they can be involved but the funding will be made directly to the social purpose organization).

How do I apply?! Social purpose organizations can request between $10,000 and $100,000, however with just over $200,000 allocated for the Okanagan, applicants should plan accordingly.

The first round of applications opened Jan. 8 and closes Feb. 10; a second application period will be announced for early 2021. Before applying, visit irp-ok.com, Community Foundations of Canada or irp-ppi.ca for more information and carefully review the program guidelines and FAQs. Here in the North Okanagan, contact Hammond for more details: Leanne@cfno.org or 250-542-8655.

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