After certifying as a B Corp in 2018, VCIB joined a global community of companies that use business as a force for good. To achieve this designation, a company’s entire social and environmental impact is measured under B Lab’s rigorous standards. The minimum score required to become a B Corporation is 80 out of 200, and in 2018, VCIB had an overall impact score of 89.7.
For VCIB, 2021 marked the year of our triennial B Corp recertification. Yet our goal was not just getting recertified. After our initial certification, we worked hard and took measurable steps to try to improve our initial score. And we were successful – in early 2022, we achieved a score of in early 2022, we achieved a score of 136.8, a 53% increase from our previous 89.7.
This score is not just a number to us. It is a testament to what can be achieved when we place impact and values at the core of financial decision making.
“As Canada’s first and only values-driven bank, purpose guides VCIB’s decision-making process. Being a B Corp is a statement of our values and a reflection of how we’re using finance as a force for change,” said Trish Nixon, Managing Director of Commercial Impact Banking at VCIB.
Born from Vancity’s community-first finance model, VCIB is the only Canadian bank that exclusively supports businesses and organizations driving social, economic, and environmental change in our communities.
How did we increase our score?
The certification process involves completing the B Impact Assessment, a questionnaire that measures a company’s performance across five areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Customers, and Environment. While we’re proud to have performed well across all categories, the major increase in points came from the Customers section of the assessment. Put simply, it came down to the growth of our impact lending portfolio and the high percentage of loans dedicated to supporting underserved communities and driving the transition to a net-zero economy.
Here are some highlights of the partnerships that have defined our impact so far:
- Since 2017, VCIB’s loan portfolio includes 29 loans to clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Together, these projects have helped avoid more than 17,500 tonnes of CO2, saved 81,385 MWh of energy, and generated 30,737 MWh of renewable power.
- VCIB’s clean energy loan portfolio includes many first-of-their-kind projects including the world’s largest wastewater energy transfer facility at Toronto Western Hospital. VCIB has also sealed its status as a leading Canadian financier for geoexchange projects that provide low-carbon heating and cooling to buildings – including its latest $3.81 million financing for the acquisition of two geoexchange systems in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
- To tackle Canada’s housing affordability crisis, VCIB’s social purpose real estate loans enabled the creation or preservation of 2,315 units of affordable housing. These loans covered a wide range of projects across the housing spectrum, including co-op and transitional housing.
- In 2021, VCIB co-created innovative cross-sector partnerships to address Canada’s affordability crisis, including its partnership with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Habitat for Humanity Canada.
- VCIB continues to increase its range of impact by financing a vast array of values-driven projects, minority-owned businesses, and women-led organizations. These include: Building Up, Carmina de Young, Voran Group Ventures, and Fanjoy’s Junior Chef Culinary Life Skills Programs.
Investing in B Corps
We’re proud to be part of a positive movement to make the world a better place. With our B Corp partners, our impact has grown.
When the pandemic hit, HelpSeeker needed to invest in significant research and development to continue to service both users and social policy makers. To support, VCIB offered a $500,000 line of credit to provide capital for growth, research, and development.
More recently, VCIB’s financing supported TAS’ acquisition of the Coppley building, one of Hamilton’s most important historic buildings. TAS will lead the adaptive reuse of this iconic property to turn it into a community hub for charities, non-profits, and private sector partners.
VCIB is also a proud partner of Forest B, a project which prompted us to join forces with other Canadian B Corps to reforest land that’s been lost through decades of industrial development. This Wild + Pine initiative will see 57,000 trees and shrubs planted to restore 25 hectares of land to native Aspen Parkland.
Building on our impact
These past few years have been full of exciting impactful projects, but we’re not done yet. Going through the B Corp recertification process has helped us identify new ways to increase our impact as an organization.
For example, while completing the assessment we realized that there were two areas in which we could make immediate improvements: the creation of a volunteer policy and a program to involve staff in grant decision making.
As a result, this year we started piloting a new volunteer policy. The policy provides VCIB employees with an allocation of staff time that can be used to volunteer for values-aligned organizations in our community. In addition, VCIB employees can now direct grants of up to $2000 for their chosen values-driven organization.