Guest post from Jory Cohen, Managing Director of Youth Social Innovation.
Social entrepreneurs need capital to grow their ventures.
Impact investors need opportunities to earn blended-value returns.
Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund (YSI) connects social entrepreneurs and impact investors to drive positive change.
I’m the Managing Director of YSI, an impact investing organization based out of Toronto, Canada: the land known for hockey, maple syrup, and, most recently, a flourishing social finance industry. YSI has become a key player in Canadian social finance by bringing together likeminded entrepreneurs and investors working to create positive impact.
YSI sources capital from investors and loans it to entrepreneurs. Principal loans and financial interest is repaid to YSI and redistributed to investors. Social and environmental return (SROI) is measured and communicated.
YSI’s focus: social entrepreneurs and impact investors
We understand the obstacles talented young social innovations encounter when establishing and expanding their ventures. Often traditional financial institutions are unable or unwilling to provide capital to young entrepreneurs without an established credit history or considerable existing assets.
We believe in the passion, pragmatism, and ability of young social innovators to build successful enterprises that are dedicated to pursuing positive change.
YSI emphasizes character over collateral and provides capital to trustworthy entrepreneurs. Receiving a YSI support package is more than just a loan. We form a close partnership with supported organizations to connect them with necessary non-financial resources required to grow their ventures. We do everything we can to ensure our entrepreneurs accomplish their triple-bottom-line vision.
YSI also recognizes that investors are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their current investment portfolio and opportunities. They want their investments to earn financial returns while simultaneously having a positive social and environmental impact. YSI provides the opportunity for investments to simultaneously do both well and good.
A YSI-Supported Social Enterprise
Let’s take a look at an example of an investment earning blended-value returns.
Fresh City Farms is a Toronto-based urban farm and farming network that locally cultivates organic groceries without using harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Delicious fruits and vegetables are picked, packaged, and delivered all in a 48 hour time frame to urban subscribers using eco-friendly means. Fresh City helps keep busy Torontonians healthy by replacing the time consuming process of buying organic foods from local markets with a click of a mouse.
In April 2013, YSI formed a partnership with Fresh City. They received a $10,000 loan and the necessary non-financial resources to grow their venture while staying true to their core social and environmental values.
YSI’s support enabled Fresh City to research, design, and implement solutions that resolved two primary barriers to organizational growth: a costly packaging system with pressing availability issues and an expensive third-party online ordering application.
The YSI loan allowed Fresh City to develop efficient and reusable packaging that directly improved the quality of their produce and cut operational costs. A new online ordering system specifically tailored to Fresh City’s business needs and use cases has been developed and will go live in Fall 2013. It is expected to greatly reduce organizational costs and streamline the ordering process, making life easier for the Fresh City team.
Since receiving YSI support, Fresh City has experienced tremendous success. Revenue and number of subscribers have increased significantly.
YSI is extremely proud to play such a key role in the growth of social enterprises like Fresh City, while providing investors with opportunities to earn financial, social, and environmental returns.
It turns out Canada isn’t just about hockey and maple syrup.