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Education is the means to a lasting impact.
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Education is the means to a lasting impact.

July 25, 2022
Countries all around the world look to Canadian education as a best practice in the way that it tailors training to local economic realities.

Supporting partner countries on their educational journeys requires the expertise of Canadian colleges and institutes working together and with partners on the ground. These partnerships help ensure that the transformation underway responds to the needs of local communities and learners and helps local TVET institutions develop the capacity to take over when the projects come to an end.

It’s a development cooperation strategy that we’ve pioneered and tailored to success over 40 years. Now we have an ambitious plan to support international partners with new sources of funding and development concepts.

We’re looking to the future and beyond traditional investment.

The world is a very different place than it was just three years ago. We have an opportunity now to think about investment differently to better ensure that our work contributes to a more equitable and sustainable world as we recover from a global pandemic.

Impact investing ensures that pressing global issues – like gender equality, poverty reduction, and climate change – are not secondary considerations to success. The double bottom line adds to the traditional profit-based model and measures an investment’s performance as a positive social or environmental impact.

It seems like a win-win situation: investors get paid while doing good. But the challenge with this type of innovative financing model – particularly in Canada – is that investors, fund managers, governments, and non-profit organizations are often deeply segmented. That’s where we come in. 

As an intermediary, we pioneered Canada’s first-ever federally funded impact bond.

We took a federal promise-to-pay; raised and managed investor capital; contracted experts in health, education, employment, and social welfare; and brought them together in a model designed to improve the lives of women, youth, and disadvantaged populations by improving their fundamental employability skills. The Essential Skills and Social Finance pilot gave us first-hand experience designing, implementing, testing, and evaluating impact bonds in a Canadian context.

And we’re ready to do it again. Not only that, we also want explore new areas of impactful finance by investing in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and using the strength of our network to support them.

For investors, working with us means access to the largest post-secondary network in the country.

At more than 680 campus locations, colleges and institutes are experts in applied research and innovation that provides Canadian businesses with real solutions to real problems. We measure the financial impact of our network as an innovation ecosystem worth $354 million dollars.

In the college and institute context, applied research is the development of innovative solutions to real-world challenges. Businesses – especially SMEs and entrepreneurs that often do not have large budgets for research and development – come to their local institution with a problem. There, they get access to state-of-the-art facilities, specialized equipment, and technical experts to help them advance their business.

In real numbers, that expertise led to over 6,400 applied research projects amounting to 5,500 new processes, products, prototypes, and services in only one year (2019-2020). Canadians benefit from this innovation that contributes to the long-term sustainability of Canadian industry, at a growing rate each year.

What if we could export this impact in a new way?

Canada’s applied research ecosystem has evolved to support entrepreneurs and SMEs. In the way colleges and institutes provide a space for underrepresented innovators to explore new business ideas, what if we could design an approach that helps innovators in developing countries find solutions to challenges like gender inequality, poverty, and climate change? 

With the right players, a double bottom line doesn’t have to be a risk. Widening gaps in wealth, a climate emergency, and increased gender disparities in the workforce have resulted in a global tipping point and we need all actors to work together to find solutions.

The global economy needs a new approach to respond to global challenges. Our network is part of the solution.