Partner with Canada’s values-based bank

VCIB is committed to fostering change by serving organizations and businesses that will help communities build back better

This piece originally appeared in the Toronto Star.

Create positive change. That’s the simple idea behind Vancity Community Investment Bank, and one that’s particularly important now as affordable housing, economic inequality and the climate crisis impacts people from coast-to-coast.

It’s known as values-based banking — the concept that financial institutions should serve their communities through supporting social, environmental and economic sustainability initiatives. In fact, many Canadians are showing increasing interest in the values of the banks with which they do business, says Jay-Ann Gilfoy, CEO of Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB). “They’re saying, ‘If I’m going to give you my money, I need to know you are doing something meaningful with it.’”

And that, says Gilfoy, is exactly what VCIB aims to do. “We’re part of an international group of banks called the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, and all of us share a common set of principles,” Gilfoy says. “One is the idea that, in banking, you should prioritize lending money to the people and organizations that most need it.”

A nationally-focused subsidiary of BC-based Vancity Credit Union, VCIB works exclusively with organizations that drive social, environmental and economic change, and its suite of banking, investing and financing solutions are purpose-built to help these companies thrive, and enable their impact. It’s partnered with affordable housing developers like Options for Homes, and recently announced strategic partnerships with both the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Habitat for Humanity Canada.

VCIB also connects clean energy developers, installers and building owners with financing to get their clean energy and energy efficiency projects off the ground. Through their subsidiary, CoPower, they’ve made loans to new clean energy and energy conservation projects that include solar, geo-exchange and building retrofits.

“We are equally passionate about the projects (our partners) are working on, in the sense (that) when they succeed, we succeed, both financially and in terms of our impact objectives,” says Gilfoy. “We bring other people to the table if you need more than just a loan, (and) amplify your story for you.”

One such story is that of Forum Equity Partners, a Canadian-based private investor, developer and asset manager of real assets across North America, that’s committed to projects that spur environmental and social change.

Forum is developing a portfolio of co-operative living projects in cities across Canada to help provide a solution to the affordable housing crisis, including one such planned development in Ottawa, according to Aly Damji, a partner at Forum.

“The project was purchased through a court process and had a short window period to close,” says Damji. “While co-living is still in its infancy in Canada and therefore new to many lenders, VCIB stepped up to the plate on a short timeline and supported us with a loan to acquire the property.”

“Lenders are typically conservative, and many are not familiar with co-living,” he adds. “And VCIB said, ‘We really believe in this. Part of our mission is to create more affordable living in the marketplace.’”

VCIB and Forum Equity Partners: Partnerships for purpose-driven private equity

VCIB — through its subsidiary, CoPower — has also provided Forum with a flexible credit facility to finance the construction of geothermal infrastructure throughout residential projects across the Greater Toronto Area.

“VCIB (has) been able to bridge a lot of relationships in sustainable building,” says Damji. “The relationship goes above and beyond just a lending relationship. We have a partner who will be there as a sounding board as we grow.”

“We at Forum have great aspirations of growing our impact-driven investment business in a variety of sectors,” adds Damji. “We treat our lending and banking-based relationships as our partners. VCIB is and has been a leader in impact-based lending for some time, and its vision and mission align with how we operate as an organization. … We take great comfort in knowing that we have a strategic partner that we are closely aligned with on delivering not only extraordinary financial performance, but also positive environmental and social outcomes.”

At the end of the day, VCIB measures its success not only by profit, but by how it’s able to provide financial solutions that put its partners’ values first, strengthen communities and help the planet.

“It’s important, because all of us — in this space of trying to solve these big problems — we all want to advance the solutions we have today, and the only way to do that is to form partnerships,” says Gilfoy.

“Expect to see a lot more of VCIB in the clean energy space, amplifying the affordability issues, and supporting businesses to build back better post-pandemic,” Gilfoy says. “We really want to be attracting change-makers … expanding our network and reaching organizations who want to work with a bank that cares about the impact they’re driving.”

Learn more about VCIB’s impact financing in our Partners page. If interested in chatting with VCIB about your financing needs, get in touch.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute investment, financial, legal, accounting, tax, or other advice and should not be relied upon for such purpose. Always consult a professional regarding your specific needs and circumstances. Customer results may vary. The customer endorsements that appear on this page were solicited by VCIB.

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Vancity Community Investment Bank is a member of CDIC and is a Certified B CorpTM