Creating opportunities for organizations to invest with impact

When Elena Yugai, Account Manager, Impact Investments, got the offer to join Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), she leapt at the chance to supercharge the work she’d been doing at a local scale.

“I believe much more capital needs to be directed towards supporting the growth of purpose-led organizations,” Yugai says. “And with VCIB, I saw the opportunity to do this on a much larger scale, through impact investment products for institutional investors.”

Yugai’s career first took off with work in tech, supporting companies to scale. But though she was excited to witness the growth, she wanted something more — the chance to use her skills to support mission-driven organizations.

For a half-decade, Yugai held a dizzying array of paid and volunteer roles in Vancouver, helping social enterprises access new funds and guiding impact investors toward values-aligned investment opportunities.

In 2017, she took a role as the investment manager with a family investment office, which opened a whole new path for impact. Through her position, she managed a portfolio of fifteen social enterprises and led the firm’s advisory practice, helping other impact investors connect with local social enterprises.

“Every investor can have a positive influence on our society and our planet,” she says. “But when it comes to finding impact investment options, new and aspiring impact investors don’t know where to start.”

Alongside her advisory work, Yugai helped grow the pool of local, investment-ready social enterprises. She mentored, advised, and coached, supporting the growth of dozens of ventures. She also helped launch the National Social Value Fund, a student-led impact investing fund that has raised over $800,000 and grown to seven chapters across Canada.

At each turn, her work has been about growing both sides of the market: helping social enterprises get investment-ready and helping investors find the investments that truly fit their values.

Today, Yugai has that same mission — but now on a bigger scale, supporting connections between impact investors and purpose-driven social enterprises through products like VCIB’s Impact GIC. This straightforward investment option contributes to affordable and sustainable communities across Canada.

“The Impact GIC is one of the fastest and easiest ways for organizations to invest with impact,” says Yugai. “Before reimagining their investment policies, wrapping their heads around risk, or determining how to invest for impact in capital markets, they can invest in the GIC and know their funds are providing growth capital for affordable housing projects, clean energy innovations, and mission-led organizations.”

It was partly the turn-key nature of the Impact GIC that drew an investment from the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the Anglican Church of Canada’s agency for sustainable development and relief.

“Public markets have taught us a lesson: they go up and down,” says Dan Waterston, board treasurer of PWRDF. “As a responsible investor, you should have a portion of your portfolio that’s not equity. VCIB’s Impact GIC is a great fixed income product that combines strong social impact with a competitive financial return.”

In addition to the ease of investment, the definitive impact draws investors too. “Rather than letting the funds sit in your chequing or savings account, earning almost no interest, you can place them in an Impact GIC, knowing that they’re creating extraordinary impact in your own community,” says Yugai.

“The best investment is place-based,” she says, recalling her work to support social enterprises in Vancouver. “I keep cultivating my connections across the country because I want to be ready to be nimble when opportunities come up to support other communities.”

Click here to learn more about VCIB’s Impact GIC. Ready to invest in change? Let’s talk.

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