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2016 Social Finance Awards winners

November 3, 2016 By: Muska Ulhaq

MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Social Finance Awards, which were presented at Social Finance Forum 2016.

The awards are presented to leaders who are playing a pivotal role in catalyzing the Canadian social finance marketplace. Building on the momentum from previous years, this year we presented four types of awards to showcase and celebrate the efforts that individuals and organization are making to mobilize private capital for public good.

Ewart Newton Award for Social Innovation

Trish Nixon
Director of Investment, CoPower Inc.


Trish joined CoPower in the summer of 2015 as Director of Investments. She oversees all investor outreach including face-to-face meetings with key investors, as well as the marketing/social media strategy. She also is responsible for development of CoPower’s Green Bond product, and sits on CoPower’s Investment Committee to approve suitable clean energy loans. She also adds support to overall corporate strategy and fundraising decisions.

Before she joined the organization, CoPower helped investors place $500,000. A year later, under Trish’s leadership in her capacity as Director ofInvestments, CoPower has placed over $6 million in clean energy loans.

Trish led product creation for CoPower’s Green Bond and was the front line interaction for all retail investors. She also helped CoPower raise and place private capital from impact investors via a private LP fund that closed at over $3 million this summer.

Honorable mention: Jory Cohen, Director of Social Finance and Investment, Inspirit Foundation

Jory is among a small and impressive group of next-generation leaders in the sector. Within the Inspirit Foundation, Jory leads the design and implementation of their 100-per-cent impact portfolio, the first of its kind in Canada.

Impact Investor of the Year

Engineers Without Borders Canada


EWB Ventures addresses the lack of available financing for finding and supporting social enterprises applying innovations to tackle systemic issues. These ventures are often viewed as too risky due to the novelty of their solution and business stage. EWB Ventures help de-risk follow-on investments and scale “founding stage” businesses. EWB Ventures are working to establish an ecosystem for investors to be courageous with their capital: to invest in unproven but potentially high impact businesses solving the toughest problems facing underserved people.

EWB Ventures are focused on providing solutions to barriers that prevent people with low incomes from reaching their full potential. Their community of innovators across sub-Saharan Africa do this in two reinforcing ways: they cultivate a community of dynamic leaders who are relentlessly driven to address root causes of inequity; and they support these leaders to drive innovations that aim to create dignity and opportunity for millions of people.

Honorable mention: Grand Challenges Canada

Grand Challenges Canada funds bold ideas with big impact in global health. GCC supports innovators in low- and middle- income countries and Canada that integrate science, technology, social, and business innovation to tackle health challenges, including mental health and maternal, newborn and child health. GCC has funded more than 700 innovations being implemented in more than 80 countries.

Mission Investor of the Year

Lundin Foundation (AHL Venture Partners)


Lundin invests in innovative, scalable small- and medium-sized businesses capable of solving critical social and environmental challenges around the world. The Foundation takes an overall portfolio approach, mixing higher-risk investments in truly innovative early stage companies with safer investments in later-stage impact-focused businesses.

The Foundation works in partnership with contributing partners to design and implement strategic initiatives which create lasting benefits in the form of employment, income improvements, regional economic development and governance capacity.

The Foundation embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of the Lundin Group Companies. Since 2005, the Foundation has established a strong track record of identifying and supporting the growth of high-potential and scalable innovations targeted at households living at or near the bottom of the economic pyramid.

We would like to also recognized other key leaders in the field who have made a significant progress in reaching their mission-related investment goals. These include: Hamilton Community Foundation, Inspirit Foundation, Community Foundation of Ottawa, and The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

Social Enterprise of the Year

CoPower Inc.


Distributed clean energy projects, for example solar rooftops, geothermal projects or energy efficiency retrofits, can play a powerful role in the transition to a low carbon economy. However, high upfront costs and lack of financing are preventing deployment of these solutions. CoPower’s mission is to unlock the private investment capital needed to finance these projects at scale. The company aims to achieve this by making it easy and attractive for individuals to invest in clean energy projects that offer solid returns and measurable impact.

Honorable mentionChild Development Institute

The Child Development Institute is an accredited children’s mental health agency in Toronto which transforms the lives of children, youth and their families through the development and delivery of world class, innovative evidence-based mental health programs.

Congratulations to the winners and our thanks to the judging panel. Read profiles of our judges.