10 Years In The Making, An Impact Investing Platform Launches In Toronto

November 17, 2017

By Anne Field, Forbes |

A Toronto-based platform connecting accredited and non-accredited impact investors with social ventures and funds just launched. It’s also been a very long time in the making.

Called the Social Venture Connection (SVX), it is, to be more precise, a relaunch of a platform introduced in 2013.

“We really see this as a game changer for impact investing in Canada,” says founder Adam Spence, who calls the latest version “SVX 2.0.”

He also compares the platform to others in the U.S., such as ImpactUs, which I wrote about here.

The 12 issuers are such for-profits and nonprofits as the First Nations Bank of Canada, with plans to raise up to $7 million from Aboriginal and impact investors for its portfolio of loans for Aboriginal-owned businesses, as well as individuals; the Immigrant Access Fund, which provides micro loans to immigrants for training or licensing; EarthShield, an agtech startup developing an organic sprayed bio-resin to help farmers boost productivity, reduce costs and promote a healthier ecosystem; and Lucky Iron Fish, which has a cast-iron cooking tool providing dietary supplementation to people with iron deficiency (and which I wrote about here).

Spence first hatched the vision in 2007, aimed at creating a social stock market. At that point, the concept of impact investing was new—so new that it took him many years to get a plan ready for regulators. In 2013, the first iteration was launched as a matchmaking data base, but not for the general public. It has worked with about 150 ventures and funds, raising over $100 million in financing.

At the same time, Spence, along with many other parties, worked with Canadian regulators on changing the rules to allow for crowdfunding and new private placements. And all the while, he says, “We were preparing our processes and business model to be ready for the changes.”

In 2016, new rules similar to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 in the U.S. came out allowing for crowdfunding and other market innovations, while also permitting SVX to register as the equivalent of a broker dealer. With new fintech making it possible for regular people to conduct transactions online, plus growing interest in the social enterprise and impact investing market, Spence figured it was time to make the leap to version 2.0. (He estimates there are about 25,000 social enterprises in Canada).

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