Designing Governance Within the Canadian Social Finance System
with Sean Geobey, Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed, Gryphon Loubier, Sergio Nava-Lara, Katey Park, and Dilek Sayedahmed
Social financing involves investments in which “social and environmental outcomes are measured along with financial returns” (Table of Impact Investment Practitioners, 2021). The Canadian Federal Government has committed $755 million through their Social Finance Fund and $100 million through the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) to growing the social finance landscape. As part of the second iteration of the IRP, the Waterloo Institute of Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) is leading a participatory action research project intended to facilitate the emergence of stronger systems of self-governance (Ostrom, 1990) within the social financing sector. Systemic design is central to this project (Jones, 2014) and design more broadly is driving two core elements of the approach – participatory system mapping and a principles-based evaluation (Patton, 2017; Norman, 2021). The goal of this project is not just a continual reinvigoration of the governance of the financing part of the social economy ecosystem, but also leaning on social financing itself as a tool for continuous learning and evaluation (Geobey, 2012).
Strengthening this system’s governance structures and reducing transaction costs within the sector and enabling more diversity in social financing models, higher deal flow, and greater social-ecological impact (Geobey, 2014). In this panel, we will provide an overview of the fundamental economic issues that guide our approach to understanding the role of social finance in Canada and our approach to advancing systemic design in this space. In this, we will outline our design-focused approaches to participatory system mapping, principles-based evaluation, peer learning, inclusion, and adaptive co-management.
Sean Goebey is the Co-Director of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience as well as an Assistant Professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at the University of Waterloo. His research focuses on the governance and design for collective action for social innovation, including the use of evidence in interdisciplinary decision-making, design for participatory decision-making, and social finance.
Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed’s work and research centres dialogues of wisdoms and explorations around alternate ways of knowing, doing and being to decolonize social innovation and entrepreneurship. At her core, Maryam believes in empowering innovators to trigger a transformative change in themselves and their communities and, through that process, co-creating more just, equitable and regenerative systems.
Gryphon Loubier is working on building the next generation of organisations as a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo and associated projects. His work focuses on systems for distributed, regenerative, networked, improvisational, fluid, human-centred, future-oriented, and adaptable organisations. As the founder of Thero, Gryph has built systems and projects from the ground up for clients in several industries (legal, the arts, social enterprise, startups, and more). He is inclined toward socially minded governance models, such as social purpose organizations and B Corporations. Gryph is also the country leader of Creative Commons.
Sergio Nava-Lara is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo.
Katey Park’s primary research interests include body image, social media, and physical activity, with an emphasis on the experiences of women. She also enjoys conducting community-based program evaluations and has conducted evaluations with school programs, addiction treatment centres, and government agencies.
Dilek Sayedahmed completed a doctoral thesis in Economics at Concordia University in January 2021. At the centre of Dilek’s research is re/designing mechanisms and systems for equity-denied groups with deep social impact. Before joining WISIR, she was a Senior Economic Policy Fellow with the Methodologies & Cross-Sector Analysis team of the BC Ministry of Health.