Impact Hub Ottawa is excited to promote a new documentary called The Invisible Heart being screened for the first time here in Ottawa on May 30th that explores what has been hailed as potentially one of the most interesting social innovations in modern history – Social Impact Bonds.

What are they?

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are an investment product designed to raise private capital to pay for social services. Governments repay investors only if the programs improve social outcomes, for example, lowering unemployment or prison recidivism and return on investment is tied to the success of a program.

The SIB market is international and growing steadily. As of April 2018, there are 108 SIBs worldwide in 24 countries and 70+ in development. To date Canada has launched four SIBs, three more are about to launch and several are in the pipeline. This year, Canada will be launching its first health care SIB to reduce heart disease while here in Ontario there are plans to create two SIBs to reduce homelessness.

“Over the past 15 years I have shared the stories of incarcerated youth, abused women and foster children and while each story began with a glimmer of hope invariably I ended up bearing witness to a system that routinely fails people”, explains the documentary’s director, Nadine Pequeneza. She goes on to say that she is “encouraged by the SIB model’s focus on prevention” and “excited by the idea that SIBs could increase public involvement in solving social problems by allowing citizens a way to invest directly in effective, local programs.” However, she also says her optimism is tempered by the dangers of introducing a profit incentive driven by “success” outcomes.

The good, the bad & the ugly

With insider access to a host of characters, The Invisible Heart examines the moral and ethical dilemmas of SIBs through the eyes of venture capitalists, philanthropists, labour leaders, economists, social workers and end users, questioning the impact of profit incentives on the delivery of social services.

The Invisible Heart will be screened in Ottawa at Mayfair Theatre on May 30th. For full event details as well as information on other screenings across Canada go here.