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Small Canadian impact fund targets “economic reconciliation” for indigenous entrepreneurs

ImpactAlpha, June 13 – Canada’s indigenous communities face the same challenges as indigenous populations the world over, because of past injustices and persistent structural barriers. These include higher poverty rates, lower educational attainment, lower labor market activity, and poorer health and housing.

Indigenous entrepreneurs working to improve community outcomes and create jobs have greater difficulty accessing financing than their non-indigenous peers as well. What financing is available largely comes from government sources and is debt-based. 

Vancouver-based Raven Indigenous Capital Partners is raising a small impact fund to make equity investments in socially-focused indigenous entrepreneurs.

The fund, which launched in 2017, has raised C$1.75 million ($1.3 million) towards a C$5 million goal, with backing from seven investors, The Global and Mail reports. It is targeting investments of C$250,000 to C$1 million.

The goal is to promote “economic reconciliation” and help to keep wealth and capacity within indigenous communities, Raven’s Jeffrey Cyr said. “These businesses spin off other businesses and have all kinds of cascading effects.”

Its first investment highlights how: digital agency and certified B Corp Animikii Indigenous Technology offers web design, communications, branding and software development for other indigenous organizations. 

Community Foundations Canada, Inspirit Foundation, Lawson Foundation, Lochmaddy Foundation, Ottawa Community Foundation, Swift Foundation and Vancity have backed the fund.

In April, Bridging Finance, a $1.3 billion asset manager, launched a private-debt fund to support small on-reserve businesses, like grocery stores, pharmacies, housing and renewable energy projects.

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