BC Community Investment Funds

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BC Community Investment Funds

Greater Victoria - South Vancouver Island - and other interested communities in BC , CanadaVictoria, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Create a Community Investment Fund model, implement it in the Capital Region of BC and make the model available for communities throughout the province.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Community and social enterprises, affordable housing and community real estate assets lack capital for start up and scale up financing. Communities around the province are looking for solutions to the lack of capital to grow their assets and opportunities. Regional Trusts have tried to provide some solutions, but rely on government capital. Community Futures Development Corporations provide debt financing for rural communities, but within restricted criteria using federal government financing. Can we create a model of community reinvestment that unleashes the full potential of individual RRSP savings and other investments to benefit communities? These kinds of funds have worked well in regions of Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Quebec. Can we adapt the model to BC regional districts ?

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Create a Community Investment Fund model and implement it in the Capital Region of BC, with template corporation and statement of offering documents, and a "how to" guide for other communities across BC to use to implement similar models in their settings. Develop proposed legislation and regulation for Community Investment Funds based on the existing and evaluated program in Nova Scotia that has enabled regions to redirect RRSP investments to local assets and enterprises to strengthen local economies. Tie this in with proposed Social Innovation Tax Credit proposals, focussing on community specific options. Develop community investment fund options with non profit, affordable, and cooperative housing organizations across B.C. Develop community investment fund options with social enterprise organizations across BC.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A Community Investment Fund for the Capital Region would involve a community controlled corporation issuing a Statement of Offering under BC Government regulations to raise capital from individuals and institutions to create a pool of capital to then reinvest in eligible locally owned real estate and business assets and enterprises. Social enterprises would be explicitly included as eligible investments, as would affordable housing development. Based on examples in Nova Scotia we believe it is possible to raise up to $8 m in investments annually through such a Fund to then create jobs, affordable housing and other assets for community development. This is non government dependent capital being re-directed from existing flows of capital investment that currently are vested in vehicles outside the region. We would also develop the necessary model legislation and regulation to adapt the Community Economic Development Investment Fund program from Nova Scotia to enable this model to expand across BC. We would engage with significant capital fund holders in the province (e.g. ICBC, Credit Unions, Foundations) in identifying their requirements to place bond-rate-of-return components of their capital in such funds, and enable that investment. In this way we would be creating a major source of capital investment in communities and regions to revitalize their economies and reduce the affordability challenges for their residents in the housing market.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We have interest in collaboration on this proposal from credit unions, non profit, cooperative and private housing developers, chambers of commerce, investment advisors, regional government officials and others. This is a unique proposal based on our evaluation of models of community investment across Canada and other jurisdictions. It complements proposed social innovation financing proposals, but is community or place-based in its focus, which the US and UK evidence of social financing innovation suggests is a winner.

Founding Story

A founding member of the housing development cooperative in our region and the Community Council looked at the challenges facing affordable housing developers in Greater Victoria, and then looked at solutions from other places. We found a big gap in affordable housing and community financing, and a big solution in New Dawn Enterprises in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. We then found the enabling policies that make their model work. We then partnered with Transition Towns Victoria on a public forum on community investment in early 2012, and had an overflow crowd of 250 people attend. That was the Aha moment, people want a means to put their savings and investments in ethical local assets that contribute to the future sustainability and well being of their communities....and they care about their communities. The mutual fund avenue doesn't work for an increasing number of our residents. And with an ageing population the caring for community avenue is going to be in demand.
About You
Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria
About You
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria

Organization Country

, BC, Victoria

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Greater Victoria - South Vancouver Island - and other interested communities in BC

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Vancouver, Coast and Mountains, Vancouver Island, Thompson Okanagan, Northern British Columbia, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Kootenay Rockies, Columbia Basin.

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two


Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Create a federation of community investment funds across BC that direct capital from individuals and institutions to locally owned and controlled enterprises, affordable housing and other community assets, that strengthen and regenerate local economies. The first phase of the initiative involves modelling the fund in the Capital Region, the second phase involves knowledge mobilization and engagement through a "change lab" group to adapt the model to other regions. The third phase involves working to establish provincial government regulation to enable and advantage the model through tax incentives.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

This model has resulted in substantial benefits to local communities in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Quebec. It is also a major component of community investment programs in the United States (e.g. New Hampshire) and the UK. It is a foundation of social innovation and social entrepreneurship programs across OECD jurisdictions.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Our aim is to raise $5 million in capital through the Capital Region Community Investment Fund in 2013/14. If the model is successful and provided with tax incentives by government, then 2% of RRSP contributions have been directed into community investment funds in other jurisdictions. That would equate to $7 m annually in the Capital Regional District.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The main barriers are provincial regulations that make statements of offerings for capital investment funds costly, particularly with RRSP eligibility attached. Nova Scotia has overcome that obstacle, so we need to learn from that model and help the BC Government identify how their best practices can be applied to our setting.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

A completed business plan and statement of offering, ready to go public

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Complete draft statement of offering, including review of key potential community investments

Task 2

Complete business plan

Task 3

Engage community on proposed model

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

A successful first round of community investment fund raising

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Develop promotional materials and engagement strategy

Task 2

Launch first community investment fundraising effort

Task 3

Draft boiler plate legal agreements

Tell us about your partnerships

We have substantial partnerships with credit unions, non profit and cooperative housing development organizations, faith based organizations, community economic development and social enterprise stakeholders. Expressions of interest have also been made by local government representatives, foundations and individual philanthropists. A Steering Committee meets regularly to help direct development of the project from across these stakeholders. Vancity Credit Union has contributed start up financing and in kind support.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

We have requests from Transition Towns, credit union, and local government organizations across Vancouver Island to share information on our model. We anticipate interest from other regions of BC.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

The Community Council is a leader in social innovation in the Capital Region with 75 years experience. It is also a key member of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, and the Cities Reducing Poverty Network nationally. The council is a dynamic incubator of socio-economic innovation in the region and leads the development of social entrepreneurship in Greater Victoria. The combination of staff expertise and volunteer-stakeholder engagement produces a flexible, inclusive and dynamic platform for social innovation.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list