On November 18, 2021, Scale Collaborative Director of Innovation and Initiatives Kristi Fairholm Mader spoke alongside Keith Ippel from Spring Activator at the League of Innovators (LOI) Future of Social Innovation virtual panel, hosted by Rob Ironside. Here are the takeaways.

We were inspired by Keith Ippel’s social innovation ecosystem building perspective, and the generosity of time and ideas shared. Throughout the panel, both panellists received some insightful questions from Rob Ironside and the audience, including:

How do you know what capital you need? Is it important to consider your growth and exit plan, and match the right capital to your stage of growth?

There are expanding investment options beyond traditional debt and equity that include grants, flexible debt, convertible notes, revenue-based financing, crowdfunding, community bonds, and more that can all be explored to find the right fit. Entrepreneurs may find themselves compiling their financing from a few different sources. Thrive Impact Fund and Impact Investor Challenge are a couple of avenues to the ‘right capital,’ and there are others in the impact investment space. Don’t be afraid to shop around!

Is there tension between impact and financial returns?

Scale works primarily with organizations that exist to achieve an environmental, social and/or cultural impact. A strong financial model directly helps them achieve their impact more. And there are often moments when the financial viability of the enterprise needs close attention and vice versa. As Keith said, you can’t create change if you go bankrupt! Pay attention to when those tensions arrive, and ask ‘what do we give up, and what do we gain?’  when considering a decision that could lean one way over the other. Many times, making a smart choice that increases impact, also leads to stronger finances.

How can non-profits and charities become more entrepreneurial?

Non-profits and charities tend to be very entrepreneurial in terms of seeing what is needed in community and innovating to solve complex challenges. The shift required is to build a strong and resilient revenue model (beyond grants, donations and government funding) that can support growth. Thriving Non Profits is one program that can support this shift, as well as others across Canada that are working to enhance revenue generation and enterprising approaches. Innoweave is a great resource!

Thanks to League of Innovators for inviting Scale Collaborative to sit on the panel and thank you especially to the young entrepreneurs who are doing the amazing work of launching and scaling impactful businesses. Go team!