Social Capital Partners

Our Evolution

Social Capital Partners designs and develops new models to improve access to employment for those at a disadvantage in finding work. Though our mission is unwavering, our approach to achieving this objective has evolved over time:

Social Enterprise (2001 – 2006)

From the outset, our work has centered on the concepts of venture philanthropy and social finance – investment models that deliver social benefits as well as economic returns. With a goal to create meaningful employment opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged populations, Social Capital Partners facilitated access to financing and provided advisory services to build and scale social enterprises – 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, which together have facilitated employment opportunities for over 1500 people to date, and prove that it is possible to create businesses that balance financial and social considerations. Our social enterprise portfolio includes:

  • 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

Community Employment Loan Program (2006 – ongoing)

The creation of our Community Employment Loan Program in 2006 emerged as a means of better engaging traditional private sector players to achieve greater social impact and scale. Through the program, Social Capital Partners facilitates access to subordinate debt financing to franchisees and small business owners that commit to hiring entry-level employees through community employment agencies, such as the YMCA and Goodwill Industries. To further promote our social mandate, loan interest rates are directly tied to employment outcomes: for every person hired through a community service agency, the interest rate on their loan is reduced. In practice, this model has allowed Social Capital Partners to increase the number of people employed more efficiently and easily for a given investment of time and capital. The model is currently being scaled across different industries and regions throughout Canada.

Corporate Community Hiring (2010 – ongoing)

Currently, Social Capital Partners is testing the feasibility of engaging Canadian employers in the practice of community hiring without any use of financing. We have learned through working with our franchise portfolio – particularly Active Green + Ross in Ontario – that employers will use community employment service agencies as an alternative channel to recruit new people as long as there is a good fit between the jobs they are looking to fill and the pre-screened candidates referred to them by these agencies. The challenge for employers is that they often lack the internal resources necessary to understand and access the different types of employment programs available in their communities to reach those candidates best suited for their job openings.

Proving the business case for community hiring

In 2010, Social Capital Partners embarked on an 18-month pilot with three of Canada’s largest employers to test the scalability of community hiring for corporations.  Our objective was to prove the business case for community hiring to employers, by demonstrating that  people who faced difficulty finding work, but are now motivated and ready to work, can be as good (or better) than hires through traditional recruitment channels. In these pilots, Social Capital Partners, in collaboration with local employment service agency partners, developed customized pre-employment training, with the objective of streamlining agency training and preparation of job seekers who have overcome employment barriers, with the hiring cycles and needs of employers. 

Social Capital Partners believe that with the right combination of pre-employment training and post-employment support systems, motivated candidates who would have otherwise been considered less competitive based solely on their experience, would perform as well, or better than, traditional entry-level employees.  Through ongoing data tracking over the span of the pilot project, Social Capital Partners seeks to build a ‘business case’ for community hiring using evidence-based data that will correlate specific pre-employment support systems, such as skills training, to employment outcomes, such as performance, career progression and retention.