Investment Readiness Program

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is no longer accepting proposals for the third and last funding cycle of the Investment Readiness Program. If you want to learn more about the program and the initiatives we fund, please consult the information below.

In total, we will fund approximately 40 grants across the 3 cycles of this 2-year funding program with each grant funded up to a maximum of $50,000.

Background On The Investment Readiness Program

As one of the partners in the Investment Readiness Program announced by the Federal Government in June 2019, the Canadian Women’s Foundation will receive $3 million over two years to help social purpose organizations become investment ready to access the new Social Finance Fund, which will be launched in 2020.

The Foundation believes that promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as the growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises helps women develop greater economic prosperity. With more knowledge and experience in the use of social finance mechanisms and tools, the women’s sector will be better able to support these enterprises.

Through the Investment Readiness Program funding, the Foundation aims to boost women’s sector participation in social innovation and social finance. This is especially important for organizations that serve women who face multiple barriers and are underrepresented in this field.

More information on the Investment Readiness Program.

Program goals

The Foundation will support and encourage the growth and readiness of women-serving organizations to join the social innovation and social finance ecosystem. This may include support to social purpose organizations that currently do not consider themselves part of that ecosystem. The Foundation seeks to prioritize funding to organizations that reach women who face multiple barriers, in communities where the needs are greatest.

Through the Investment Readiness Funding, we aim to:

  • Increase the number and variety of groups engaged in the social finance ecosystem
  • Build awareness
  • Enhance capacity
  • Increase accessibility to expert advice and information
  • Contribute to learning on what works
  • Apply a gender lens throughout using GBA+

Social Finance Resources

Social finance is a type of lending or investment that delivers a positive social, cultural, or environmental impact as well as a financial return for creditors / investors. Social finance could potentially provide a new source of income for charities who typically rely on more traditional sources of income, such as grants and donations. Source: Imagine Canada.
The Social Finance Fund is a pool of money that will increase the amount of affordable, repayable capital available for charities, non-profits, co-operatives, and for-profit social enterprises. The money that will be available through this fund is intended to help these “social purpose organizations” create and grow innovative programs and initiatives aimed at solving the most persistent and complex social, cultural, and environmental challenges in our society. Source: Imagine Canada.
Social purpose organizations (SPOs) are the entire spectrum of organizations that seek to advance a social, cultural or environmental mission. Social purpose organizations straddle the not-for-profit sector (such as registered charities, incorporated non-profit organizations and co-operatives), the private sector and hybrid entities such as Community Contribution Companies and Community Interest Corporations. Source: Employment and Social Development Canada – ESDC.
A variety of service providers working on investment readiness and social finance have been funded to strengthen their programming and help Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) build their investment readiness. Some of these services are offered free of charge. For a list of service providers and coaches, you can consult these directories curated by Innoweave:

Please note that this isn’t an exhaustive list and that the directories are updated by Innoweave.

  • The Reconciliation for Business Leaders toolkit was developed by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to equip business leaders with the tools to advance reconciliation in your business thinking, planning and practices.
  • These modules were developed by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to share knowledge and recommended practices that can promote Indigenous Innovation within individuals and throughout the Canadian ecosystem. The contents of these modules and their underlying program is story-led and research-based.
  • The Common Approach works towards better impact measurement for social purpose organizations and is composed of 4 related standards that are community-driven.
  • Take the Common Approach Self-Assessment to assess to what extent you are doing the essential practices of impact measurement.
  • The Demonstrating Value Approach can help you learn to take control of the data you collect and how to communicate the value of your organization. Watch these recorded webinars presented by Demonstrating Value, the Common Approach, the Investment Readiness Program and the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
  • The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) shares research and resources for women entrepreneurs in Canada.
  • Business Development Canada has a wide selection of free resources to help you achieve your goals and realize your entrepreneurial dreams.
  • SheEO is a community supporting women + non-binary people working on the World’s To-Do List. Learn more about their venture program for women-owned/women-led businesses.
  • Explore advice, lessons and tips from the MaRS community of entrepreneurs and operators.
  • The DMZ provides high-impact, high-intensity and highly-customized programs for the best and brightest founders in the world to validate, build and scale their tech startups – fast.
  • DMZ Black Innovation Programs has joined forces with a community of Founding Partners to develop the Black Innovation Program (BIP). The first-in-Canada program will provide startups led by Black entrepreneurs with the strengthening support of a top university-based incubator network, as well as additional programming, mentorship, events, and connections to industry, capital and an alumni network, to support their success and growth.
  • The Startup Canada Women Entrepreneurs Program supports women entrepreneurs, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds, to start and scale thriving businesses.
  • RISE helps people who face barriers to employment because of mental health or addiction challenges to achieve financial independence and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. They provide low interest loans, support, business advice, and resources to help empower you to launch your idea towards success. They also have training programs for youth under 30.
  • Forum for Women Entrepreneurs: Share your business vision, grow your community, receive dedicated mentorship and pursue the opportunity for $50,000 cash for your business at FWE’s Pitch for the Purse!
  • Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed.


If you have further questions, please contact us:
Phone: 416-365-1444
Fax: 416-365-1745
Toll-free: 1-866-293-4483
TY: 416-365-1732

Sagal Dualeh (ext. 221)
Director, Investment Readiness

Sally Dimachki (ext. 261)
Manager, Investment Readiness

The Investment Readiness Program is funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Innovation/Social Finance Strategy.

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Check out the list of funding recipients of the first and second cohort of the Investment Readiness Program.

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Resources: Watch these recorded webinars

  1. Introduction to the Investment Readiness Program, Social Finance and the Application Process (September 2020).
  2. Introduction to the Investment Readiness Program, Social Finance and the Application Process: Learn more about the Investment Readiness Program, social finance, social innovation, and the application and selection process. (March 2020)
  3. Demystifying Investment Readiness – Leveraging Social Finance & Investment Readiness Application Details. In this webinar, hosted in partnership with Innoweave, you’ll learn more about leveraging social finance and the application and selection process for grants. (March 2020)
  4. Read resources on social finance and setting up a successful social venture.