ImpactAlpha, April 22 – First Nations and Inuit people in Canada do not own their land. Per the Indian Act, it’s held by the Canadian government. Without collateral, private banks are hesitant to fund early-stage development. “It’s very difficult to do on-reserve lending in a traditional format,” Bridging Finance’s David Sharpe, a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, told The Globe and Mail.
Bridging Finance, with $1.3 billion in assets under management, is raising a private-debt Indigenous Impact Fund to provide early-stage funding to on-reserve grocery stores, pharmacies, housing and renewable energy projects. The firm has notched CAD $25 million ($18.7 million) in commitments toward a target of at least CAD $500 million, Bridging Finance confirmed to ImpactAlpha, and has a deal pipeline of CAD $200 million.
After projects are generating cash, Bridging will sell the loans to banks. Bridging, founded in 2012, projects its higher-risk loans will generate higher-risk returns of 8%. Says Sharpe, “We’ve never had a loss, nor a default, on First Nations lending.”