Crowdfunding platform SVX has flagged its first cohort of 12 Ontario early-stage ventures focused on social and environmental challenges. These are: ChangeIt, a specialist in donating “virtual change” to charities; Community Forward Fund, an arranger of financing for non-profits and charities; The Fair Trade Jewellery Co, a maker of ethical fine jewelry; Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addiction Services; Homestead Organics, an organic farm supply and grain processing business; Investeco, an environmental investment fund; Oliberté, a maker of rugged casual footwear and goods in Africa; REfficient, an online marketplace for industry equipment; RocketOwl, a game developer for social and mobile networks; SolarShare, a promoter of community-based solar electricity generation; TAS, an investor in socially innovative urban projects; and ZooShare Biogas Co-operative, a non-profit renewable energy co-operative. Profiled in July by peHUB Canada, SVX is sponsored by innovation hub MaRS Discovery District.
Twelve ventures hit the impact investing market with SVX
By Adam Spence
September 19, 2013
When the Toronto Stock Exchange rang its bell this morning, Canada’s capital markets opened to impact investing with the official launch of SVX (Social Venture Connexion).
Led by MaRS in collaboration with TMX Group Ltd., and supported by the Government of Ontario, Torys LLP, KPMG, The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, RBC and Hamilton Community Foundation, SVX is an online impact investing platform connecting impact ventures, funds, investors and service providers. You can read the full story about SVX in this short case study.
The platform was proud to announce its first cohort of social and environmental impact issuers representing a diverse range of geographies, sectors and corporate structures. The ventures hail from Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston and Ottawa in sectors ranging from affordable housing and non-profit finance to sustainable fashion, organic food and renewable energy. They include the rainbow of corporate structures, including non-profits, for-profits, co-operatives and charities. Collectively, they are looking to raise over $100 million in financing from local accredited investors.
The first ventures
Learn more about the first 12 Ontario impact ventures, which officially hit the impact investing market at the launch today.
ChangeItChangeIt is a patent-protected charitable giving platform that aims to leverage the rapid shift from cash to cashless transactions by bringing together financial institutions, charities and socially conscious consumers in an ecosystem that automates charitable giving by enabling users to register their existing financial payment cards, eWallets or any other electronic payment methods in a simple, automated and secure platform.
Community Forward Fund
Community Forward FundCommunity Forward Fund (CFF) is a Canadian non-profit that makes loans to or arranges financing for non-profits and charities. CFF addresses a gap in access to patient working capital and provides bridge loans for the sector for small- and medium-size organizations. The organization also provides financial review and coaching services as well as assessment tools to help build financial skills and capacity in the non-profit and charitable sectors.
The Fair Trade Jewellery Company
The Fair Trade Jewellery Company (FTJCo) designs, manufactures, retails and distributes the most ethical fine jewelry in the world. FTJCo is the first company in North America licensed to use fair trade–certified gold. Every piece of jewelry sold has a positive social benefit to artisanal miners and the environment.
Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addiction Services
Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addiction Services provides a continuum of services, including affordable housing, to those with mental health and/or addiction issues living in Frontenac County.
Established in 1988, Homestead Organics is Eastern Canada’s leading certified organic farm supply and grain processing business. Homestead Organics is a business-to-business operation located between Ottawa and Cornwall, Ontario, serving Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and New York state. The business distinguishes itself through its dedication to organic agriculture, its range of superior products and customer service, and its extensive outreach and educational supports.
Investeco is Canada’s first environmental investment company. By investing in both private and public companies in sectors including renewable energy, water, sustainable agriculture and clean technologies, Investeco is able to tap into the growing demand for environmentally superior products and services. The company believes that investing in the environmental economy helps build companies that matter.
Oliberté was founded by Tal Dehtiar in 2009, with the concept of creating sustainable jobs in Africa building rugged casual footwear and goods. Oliberté opened its own ethically responsible factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August 2012. The footwear is handmade by skilled artisans using natural rubber outsoles and hand-picked natural leather, and featuring an average of 1,000 stitches per shoe. Materials are currently sourced from Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo and Liberia. Oliberté is headquartered in Oakville, Ontario, and has warehouses in Mississauga, Ont., Buffalo, New York, and Rye, United Kingdom. Oliberté products are sold throughout the world at the best specialty retailers and are also available online.
REfficient is an online marketplace to source quality industry equipment cost-effectively and sustainably. Businesses save 20 to 70% by buying the surplus inventory of other companies, as well as new products with environmental features. Companies can also resell and recycle their equipment via REfficient and get sustainability reporting. Since their launch in 2010, REfficient has diverted almost two million pounds of electronics from landfills.
RocketOwl is a game developer that creates high-quality, engaging social games promoting sustainable living, environmental awareness and social change through play. The company develops original titles and is one of the first companies to provide cross-platform play across devices. Their games empower players to have fun while making a difference in the world. With over 250,000 unique players and month-over-month growth, RocketOwl is on track to make a difference.
SolarShareSolarShare is a non-profit co-operative with a mission to grow community-based solar electricity generation in Ontario by engaging citizens in projects that offer tangible financial, social and environmental returns.
TASTAS believes that great cities are shaped by a strong vision, one that continuously pushes the boundaries of innovation. As city builders, TAS is in a position to create and contribute to the built environment in a way that strengthens neighbourhoods and facilitates community cohesion. By connecting diverse partners and investing in socially innovative enterprises, TAS creates buildings that reflect the modern concept of what it means to live urban.
ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc.
ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc. is a non-profit renewable energy co-operative whose mission is to be a catalyst for the growth of community-owned biogas plants through education and investment. Their first project, located at and in partnership with the Toronto Zoo, is a 500-kilowatt biogas plant that will turn the Toronto Zoo’s manure output and food waste from local grocery stores into electricity and fertilizer. The revenue from these products will produce financial contributions for the Toronto Zoo and above-average returns for members and investors.
Why is this important?
This is only Day 1. Much work needs to be done to build out SVX and, more importantly, the impact investing ecosystem in Canada. But there are a number of reasons that these 12 ventures hitting the market, albeit via a private platform, is important.
There is deal flow in Ontario. One of the biggest challenges in the impact investing marketplace has been the limited investment pipeline. These 12 impact issuers demonstrate that there is deal flow for interested, local impact investors to consider.
There is a single access point for impact ventures, funds and investors to connect. Another key challenge in the Canadian impact investing marketplace is intermediation. There is finally a trusted, registered place for parties to connect.
We can build on this momentum. Over the first year, we hope to register 30 issuers and 100 investors, and mobilize $2.5 million in capital for at least 10 ventures and funds on the platform.
For more information about SVX, including how you can access the platform as an impact venture, fund, investor or service provider, please visit svx.ca.
[N.B. This is not a solicitation of funds for investment. SVX does not endorse any ventures or funds featured on the platform, and investment opportunities are only available to qualified, accredited investors based in Ontario. The SVX platform is only accessible by ventures incorporated in Ontario. The SVX is registered as a restricted dealer with the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) as MaRS VX and adheres to all relevant and applicable securities legislation; it is incorporated as a non-profit corporation.]
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