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By Steve Petterson


Executive Director

National Social Value Fund

Impact Investing 101

My Path to this topic...

It wasn’t until my third year of university that I first encountered the social finance space. Prior to this, I had made the decision that I would pursue a traditional finance career for no better reason than it being the ‘norm’ at my university. Upon discovering the social finance world, I had my first ‘aha’ moment of my career – here was a space where I could use and grow similar skills, but in a direction that aligned more clearly with my values and goals in life. I became hooked and have now dedicated my life to growing this space to the point in the future where it is no longer considered niche. My view on how we achieve this is by empowering the next generation of business leaders to grow their careers with a socially and environmentally conscious mindset. This, in part, led me to the creation of the National Social Value Fund – a direct outlet to support peers of mine across the country gain a deeper appreciation for impact-focused business, while supporting solutions of today in a very tangible way: through impact-adjusted, localized social venture investment.

Steve's Reading List


Social Venture Impact Investing: the Canadian Landscape

Sauder S3i's

What is the state of social finance in Canada today? A very well done report by a leading social finance research centre in Canada, Sauder S3i’s Canadian Landscape overview is a great place to start if you are looking to understand more about where we are as a country right now in terms of social finance development. They touch on gaps and strengths of the marketplace, and it is a great place to begin imagining what new forms of innovative capital could help build up the market over time.

Reinventing Organizations

Frederic Laloux

What does ‘new models for social finance’ mean? The primary meaning is to discuss how social capital is invested, and typically this is to look at the actual financial vehicle, whether it be a new impact-adjusted debt model or a revenue share agreement. One overlooked aspect of social finance innovation is the ‘behind-the-scenes’ – how are these new social finance intermediaries going to run and be structured to ensure values-alignment throughout the organization? Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations doesn’t touch on finance at all, but I am fascinated to see how we can take some of the ideals and examples used from other industries and apply them to a shifting social finance industry.

More than money: How social finance can build resilience in the arts sector

Elizabeth MacKinnon & Christine Pellerin

How can new models for social finance actually be applied? Elizabeth MacKinnon and Christine Pellerin wrote a very digestible report on how social finance could help grow the arts sector. This is a great starting point to think about how new models of social finance might be able to support a sector or issue-area you are passionate about.

The Joel Harrison Podcast

Joel Harrison

I’m curious about this space – where can I find some examples of social innovation? A brand new podcast beginning in late 2019 – Joel talks with social innovators about the work they do, and why they do it. For a young individual looking for inspiration, putting one of these interviews on as you go about your day is a great way to get started.

The Clean Money Revolution

Joel Solomon

Anything else? Here is a good novel from someone I personally look up to. Joel Solomon shares his life story, how he found the impact space, and the importance of a mindset switch within this generation and the next towards using our dollars intentionally for good. Well worth a read if you are interested in learning about the social finance space in a less formal/report-driven manner.

About the Author

A Vancouver-based social finance enthusiast, Steve is passionate about empowering young leaders to play a significant role in shifting capital towards impact-focused investment. Steve leads and helped to create the National Social Value Fund: a local-in-scope, national-at-scale impact investment organization lead by tomorrow’s leaders and focused on place-based social venture support through investment across Canada.

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