Venture for Canada begins its impact investing journey

To be entrepreneurial means to act upon ideas and opportunities to build value for others – whether it be social, economic, or environmental.

The definition, developed by the European Commission, is the driving concept behind Venture for Canada’s mission: Fostering the entrepreneurial skills and mindsets of young Canadians with a vision of a prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for Canada.

“Our training programs are a systemic drive for positive change. They are equipping our greatest national resource – our people – with the tools they need to create impact for themselves and their communities,” explained Scott Stirrett, Founder and CEO of Venture for Canada (VFC).

Through VFC’s programs, Canada’s youth develop essential entrepreneurial skills to tackle substantial challenges – such as climate change, income inequality, and reconciliation. Focused on providing real-world experience for recent graduates, and work-integrated learning experiences for students at startups and small businesses, VFC exposes young Canadians to what’s involved in building a business from the ground up.

Scott believes it is essential to incorporate their mission into every aspect of their organization, including their cash reserves.

“As a charity, we are committed to building a more innovative, resilient, and entrepreneurial Canada,” said Scott.

“The main way we achieve impact is through our programs, but it is also important that we do that through our accumulated surpluses – investing them to generate a strong return for the organization while leveraging those funds in a way that’s impactful and helps build that better Canada.”

Planting the seeds for impact investing

VFC took its first step toward impact investing with Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB). As part of the Vancity Group, VCIB is the only bank in Canada that works exclusively with organizations and businesses that drive social, economic, and environmental change.

“I was super impressed with the rate that VCIB could offer, as well as their specialized support. The fact that VCIB focuses on working with non-profits and social purpose enterprises, I felt like VCIB understood our needs. Most financial institutions don’t specialize in this specific area.”

To provide organizations with the ability to support transformational work in their communities while investing at competitive rates, VCIB created an innovative investment platform – the Impact GIC.

The deposits that go into the Impact GIC provide growth capital for purpose-driven businesses and help finance impactful projects in Canada like affordable housing and clean energy projects.

“We wanted to ensure that we invest our accumulative surpluses in a way that aligns with our values, and VCIB’s [Impact GIC] allowed us to generate strong returns while leveraging VFC’s financial resources to make Canada a better place,” continued Scott.

“[And] I genuinely really enjoy working with VCIB. Excellence in customer service is what we value, and they have an authentic passion for our work.”

The Impact GIC at work

The deposits in VCIB’s Impact GIC have financed a plethora of critical projects.

As a notable example, VCIB’s $30 million credit facility for Habitat for Humanity Canada will support the development of 414 affordable housing units over the next three years.

The first of Habitat’s projects was recently finished – a 41-unit condo built by Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region. Located at Leahy’s Lane in Peterborough, Ontario, the new complex was unveiled on Sunday, April 3rd to welcome its expectant tenants.

In addition to affordable housing projects, VCIB’s Impact GIC is helping finance Canada’s transition to a net-zero future by supporting a vast array of clean energy projects.

For example, VCIB provided $3.81 million to refinance a residential geoexchange project in British Columbia that is currently providing heating and cooling for 246 residential properties.

Recently, VCIB also partnered with the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC), arranging a $32.5 million loan to refinance the Niagara Region Wind Farm, the second largest wind farm in Ontario.

The project’s profits will be directed back into the Six Nations community and will be used to stimulate economic opportunity, purchase critical infrastructure, and finance support services like mental health and suicide prevention programs.

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Click here to learn more about VCIB’s Impact GIC. If you’re interested in chatting with VCIB about your financing needs, get in touch.

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