Schulich awarded for commitment to developing new sector talent and expertise in social finance
The Schulich School of Business was presented with the “Excellence in Sector Talent Building” Award on Thursday at the Social Finance Awards. Presented by SocialFinance.ca, the Award recognizes the Canadian educational institution that has best demonstrated a commitment to developing new sector talent and expertise through offerings in social finance.
The Social Finance Awards were established to showcase and celebrate the efforts that individuals and organizations are making to mobilize private capital for public good. Award recipients are recognized leaders who are playing a pivotal role in catalyzing the Canadian social finance marketplace.
“Although it was only put together a few years ago, the Microfinance and Social Impact Investing course has not only been well-received by practitioners and policy makers in this emerging and important field, but our MBA graduates are already making a difference in social finance in Canada, Nicaragua and France. In fact, the Schulich MBA specialization in Nonprofit Management was recently expanded to include the management and financing of social entrepreneurship,” explained Brenda Gainer, Royal Bank Professor of Nonprofit Management and Director of the Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program, which will see its name change in 2014 to Social Sector Management in order to better reflect the expanding scope of the program.
Schulich instructor Jonathan Hera, who teaches Microfinance and Social Impact Investing, accepted the award on behalf of the School. Jonathan is a Fund Manager, Impact Investing at RBC and completed his MBA at the Schulich School of Business.
“Schulich is a Canadian leader in course curriculum and research in the area of social finance,” said Hera in an interview following the Awards ceremony. “We teach a number of courses in this area and recent study topics include social enterprise, poverty alleviation and social innovation, as well as BOP business models. Schulich currently has a more complete offering in this field than any other Canadian school.”
So, what exactly is social finance? According to Hera, it’s the financing of an opportunity, program or organization with the positive intent of achieving positive social and environmental impact, in addition to receiving a financial return (capital preservation, below market, above market, etc.).
“The Microfinance and Social Impact Investing course aims to help students develop an understanding of the investment and/or donation due diligence process of social finance within the history of international development, overseas direct assistance, philanthropy, microfinance and SME finance,” said Hera. “The investment process is contextualized with a thorough review of design and systems thinking, impact measurement and reporting, and ecosystem/intermediary support infrastructure.”
The course was created because of student demand for a practical understanding of microfinance and impact investing.
“While other courses consider BOP business models, design thinking, poverty alleviation and social entrepreneurship more generally, there was no course that concretely evaluated the practice of microfinance (and microfinance institutions (MFIs)) and impact investing,” explained Hera.
In other words, the course provides students with the opportunity to apply a lot of theory to a practical situation.
“The course also connects students to Canadian social finance and impact investing leaders,” said Hera. “Practical skills and networking equip students with jobs. In such a nascent space, even a few months of practical, technical training, can be a differentiator in a very competitive job market.”
Of Hera’s involvement in the course, Gainer said: “We are very lucky to have a practitioner such as Jonathan working with us and teaching and mentoring our students and, of course, spreading the word about our MBA social sector programs in the investment and banking industries.”