SCP Journey

At Social Capital Partners, we believe that applying market-based solutions to systemic social issues is the key to sustainable impact. We've tried to stay true to that belief since we were founded in 2001. Our path has been long and winding, but we're as committed as ever to working on the biggest and riskiest solutions we can find.

Our Journey

2001-2006 Social Enterprise

SCP was founded with independent funding in 2001, by business entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Young. Since then, we have been seeking better solutions to the question of accessible employment for those at a disadvantage. While our tactics and activities have evolved over time, our mission is unwavering.

From the outset, our work centered on venture philanthropy and social finance – investment models that deliver social benefits, as well as economic returns. In our first five years, we facilitated access to financing and provided advisory services to build and scale social enterprises, which are businesses that integrate a social mission directly into their operations. In this phase, we helped establish and scale a portfolio of profitable social enterprises across Canada, including:

  • Atira Property Management (Vancouver) – Employs women who are victims of violence
  • Inner City Renovations (Winnipeg) – Employs urban aboriginal persons
  • Turnaround Couriers (Toronto) – Employs at-risk youth
  • Renaissance (Montreal) – Hires directly from provincial social assistance programs

2006-2012 Social Finance

The creation of our Community Employment Loan Program (CELP) in 2006 emerged as a way to engage traditional private sector players in the achievement of greater social impact and scale. Through the program, we facilitate access to subordinate debt financing for franchisees and small business owners. Loan rates are tied directly to employment outcomes; for every person hired through an employment service provider, the interest rate on the loan is reduced.

2012-2017 Demand-Led Workforce Development

Through our work with the Community Employment Loan Program, we realized that many Canadian employers didn’t need the incentive of a lower interest rate to hire those at a disadvantage – they just needed to see that using employment and training providers is a viable, competitive recruitment channel. We piloted innovative programs with a number of leading Canadian employers, achieving excellent interview-to-hire ratios. But we also saw retention in these programs fall short, due to the lack of required pre-employment training and post-hire support.

At this point, we’d learned two key things: (1) Employers would utilize the employment and training system if it was easy and efficient for them; and (2) It isn’t easy or efficient. The reason is that the system at large has never been designed to see the employer as a customer. We realized we were playing a band-aid role and could have more impact if we worked at the systems level.

And so, in 2012, we expanded our focus to demand-led systems change. To find better ways of preparing job seekers to meet employer needs, we are bringing employers to the heart of the system, inviting them as partners in the design, delivery, and evaluation of training and development programs.

2018-

Today, we are thinking about workforce development, impact investing, community businesses and the future of work (we didn’t say laser-like focus was a particular strength!). More on this thinking is here and if we’re a good partner for your big idea, reach out to us here.