The Solution Finance Accelerator, whose first cohort ran from 2020-2021, contributes to a vision of a vibrant social finance marketplace with efficient and effective investment capital flowing to social and environmental development at scale. The SFA aims to expand the Canadian social finance marketplace by supporting a group of impact investing intermediaries to develop and launch their funds. These organizations are disrupting the traditional means of structuring their business models, be it by leveraging technologies or applying new financial mechanisms to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This series profiles the nine participants supported through the Accelerator.
Founded in 2014, Yukonstruct began as a community maker space where Yukoners could access tools and equipment, and share knowledge and skills to prototype and develop new projects and ideas. Yukonstruct has evolved into a community driven organization and innovation hub, where they support local businesses and organizations through a maker space and maker programming, business development training and support as well as a co-working space. Through Yukonstruct’s NorthLight Innovation Hub, Yukonstruct is building an innovative social innovation ecosystem that can support entrepreneurs to address issues like climate change, food security and adapting to and leveraging digital technology, in the spirit of reconciliation. These are issues that are having an out-sized impact in the North.
“I’m inspired by the work being done by Yukonstruct’s members. We see a drive from entrepreneurs in the north to build a sustainable future. They are catalyzing a lot of innovation around renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty, and access to digital skill development and jobs of the future. I hope that the amazing projects we see coming out of the Yukon can help shine a light on the innovations happening in the north and that we can inspire and be leaders among innovators in the rest of the country. “
–Lana Selbee, Executive Director
Accessing capital in the north is particularly challenging for small and medium businesses. Only major banks using traditional funding models operate in the region, and some small communities may not even have access to banks and banking services. Unlike in much of the rest of Canada, organizations cannot look to credit unions or investment communities for the funding relationships that will help their organizations expand. The result is stifled growth and a lack of mentorship and financial education that is available in larger centres.
Yukonstruct is partnering with Yukon University to develop a fund that will support the region’s businesses, social enterprises and nonprofit organizations. The fund hopes to address the twin issues of access to capital and financial education.
How does the Fund work?
Although still in the very early stages of developing the fund, Yukonstruct hopes to attract foundations, larger institutional investors, family foundations and high net worth individuals who have benefitted and built a legacy in the Yukon. While they hope to provide a modest return on investment, Yukonstruck believes the core motivation driving investors will be a desire to invest in the north and to empower the businesses and entrepreneurs in the region.
For the companies seeking investment, the fund will provide a revenue-based financing approach that can be flexible and adaptable depending on sector and business type. This approach is founder friendly — the fund would not take any equity-stake in the company, and would tailor their investments in a way that helps the organization build sustainably. “This is our main goal with this fund: to empower and enable entrepreneurs and provide a return for our investors that does not come at the expense of the organizations they are supporting,” says Lana Selbee of Yukonstruct.
Solutions Finance Accelerator highlights
- Yukonstruct has collaborated and leveraged partnerships with other organizations and intermediaries that are doing similar work.
- The Accelerator was an opportunity to learn from the other funds about how they are supporting their own small and rural communities and to see if those lessons can be applied here. Yukonstruct is also exploring with other regional funds how to leverage their combined resources and networks and support economic development and inclusive impact in regions that are traditionally overlooked by venture capital.
Learn more about Yukonstruct.