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January 2024

New social finance marketplace: Growcer Finance launches

By News

Did you know that about 95 percent of the fresh greens you see in the grocery store are imported from the United States? Growcer’s on a mission to change that, with their modular farms made to withstand Canada’s inhospitable weather. 

The organization’s new program, Growcer Finance, is a new marketplace filling a gap in the sustainable agriculture world — connecting socially and environmentally conscious investors to the entrepreneurs who are making a meaningful difference in communities’ food security. 

Growcer is fundraising a minimum of $10 million and maximum of $30 million for the pooled fund, from accredited investors. The fund plans to start investing this quarter in entrepreneurs using Growcer’s modular farms to grow fresh produce in areas of the country without stable and affordable access to this food. 

At Tapestry, we know first-hand that investors are ready to make the switch from traditional investments in harmful and extractive industries to investments that make a positive contribution to their communities. They just need simple, barrier-free ways to find those investments. 

Growcer’s CEO, Corey Ellis, shared four insights on this innovative new financing program, inspiring us at Tapestry — and anyone looking to finance a social purpose project. 

Investors and social entrepreneurs are searching for each other

At Tapestry, we know there are scores of investors ready to put their money where their values are. But they often lack an easy and reliable way to find sustainable, ethical investments. We see a need for a connector between larger sustainably- and ethically-minded investors and local innovators in sectors like affordable housing, arts and culture, and renewable energy.

Corey noticed something similar. 

“We noticed that there were a lot of places in Canada that were in great need of solutions like Growcer farms to produce more affordable food. Lots of places had this market ripe for disruption, to produce food locally, sell it locally, and displace imports. But we realized that some of those places have very low access to capital,” he says. “At the same time, there were a lot of impact investors who really liked what we were doing and wanted to invest their capital in solutions like this — but they didn’t all want to be farmers. Our role now is to bring those parties together.”

There are benefits beyond sustainable agriculture 

“There’s also an opportunity there to deploy capital in communities that are looking for economic development opportunities, where creating two, three, four jobs is actually pretty meaningful in a community of a few thousand people,” Corey says. 

Tapestry-supported community bonds, too, reverberate positive impact. Since many investors are residents of the community, much of the returns stay in the community — in turn, boosting the area’s economic development. 

It’s possible to convert traditionalist investors

The fact is that the status quo isn’t cutting it anymore. “Especially post-COVID, all the stakeholders in the value chain of food and grocery are trying to find more resilient ways to procure vegetables,” says Corey. “Fundamentally, there’s a big gap in the agricultural infrastructure in Canada that perhaps more conventional financing is not well suited to finance completely on their own.”

Meanwhile, investors used to traditional approaches are still resonating with Growcer’s approach. “We see a lot of family offices, high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals. We are seeing some commercial real estate investors that are interested in infrastructure assets, because ultimately the fund looks a lot like a real estate fund, structurally speaking. So, a lot of folks who would normally deploy their capital into a real estate investment trust or some sort of other real estate fund structure” are choosing Growcer Finance. 

With Tapestry’s focus on affordable housing, we’re also keen to see investors moving money from traditional, often harmful funds like real estate investment trusts (REITs) and into community-focused investments. 

Investment readiness is key

An important role Growcer Finance plays is vetting farmers for their readiness to take on investment. What are they looking for? A solid business plan, of course, but Growcer Finance also leans toward a character-based lending approach. “We’re looking for the right attributes and evidence of past successes. Have you built a business or run a business before that has found some success, or have you been an intrapreneur and can you speak to how those skills are transferable?” Corey says. “And for the people who aren’t selected in a particular cohort, there are oftentimes opportunities for us to give feedback, the things they can do to improve and strengthen their application for next time. For those people who may not get a ‘yes’ the first time around, if they put in the work, and six months later we hear from them again, we’re going to feel better about their application.” 

Investment readiness is an important part of Tapestry’s work, too. We help organizations determine whether they’re ready to take on community bond investment, and support them as they prepare for a raise. Curious about whether your organization might be ready for a community bond campaign? Take our Qualifier quiz or get in touch with our team to learn more. 

Tapestry welcomes Heather Watt-Kapitain as Campaign Manager

By News

Tapestry Community Capital is happy to welcome Heather Watt-Kapitain to the team. As Campaign Manager, Heather will support community bond issuers through all stages of the bond lifecycle, from the earliest feasibility stages all the way to reinvestment campaigns. 

Heather brings with her many years of experience in project management, entrepreneurship, stakeholder engagement, facilitation, and community finance. In 2016, when she was chair of the board of 10C, a coworking space in Downtown Guelph, Ontario, she supported the campaign to purchase and renovate a 15,000 square foot building — and raise $2.5 million for it through community bonds. 

In 2021, Heather left the board for a staff role at 10C where she joined the Harvest Impact team, a character-based lender powering social enterprises and regenerative farmers working toward a circular economy. 

Heather’s looking forward to bringing all of this experience to Tapestry’s clients — and in doing so, “shifting status quo, shifting mindsets, getting people to see the possibility and the opportunity in social finance,” she says. “In a time where there can

be general feelings of hopelessness, community bonds give people an opportunity to take action and support effective change.”

Outside of work, Heather has a busy home life with three kids and three dogs. She loves to read and spend time in the woods in Guelph, where she lives. “The entire Tapestry team knows that my son and I have this cold plunge challenge that we’ve been doing for the last 10 weeks,” she adds with a laugh, “so I like taking on absurd things like that.”

We hope you’ll have the opportunity to meet Heather soon. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach her at Welcome to the team, Heather! 

Haliburton County-based Places for People celebrates successful first community bond raise

By Uncategorized

In rural Haliburton County, Ontario, a small and mighty team is addressing the community’s lack of affordable housing head-on. 

At the end of 2023, Places for People celebrated a huge milestone: they met their very first community bond raise’s $850,000 goal — in just 10 weeks. Their success is thanks to a dedicated, close-knit community, which Places for People has spent years connecting with and supporting.

Jody Curry, president of Places for People, speaks at an event celebrating the organization’s successful community bond raise. 

The $850,000 raised will help Places for People consolidate its assets so they’re in a better position to act fast and purchase new properties when they become available. The need is great in Haliburton County, one of the lowest-income counties in the province, where the seasonal economy (Places for People vice president Fay Martin calls it “cottage country”) means that come autumn, many residents are out of work. 

Jody Curry speaks with Haliburton County community members. 

President of the organization, Jody Curry said the community bond raise helped Places for People get the word out about homelessness. But it also presented an opportunity to better understand how the lack of affordable housing touches just about every community member. 

“Rural and urban communities are very different,” Jody said. “When you live in a rural community, everybody, in some way or another, has a story to tell us. Everybody had a story that their sister’s been living in their basement, or about the guy they tried to hire but he couldn’t find anywhere to live, or the hospital nurse who quit because she was tired of driving from Bracebridge. The stories were endless.”

Tapestry Community Capital and Places for People team members.

Jody said the team is thrilled to see their hard work on the campaign pay off. “It feels good,” she said. “We’re a real grassroots organization, and always have been, and have always believed that our community would help us. And they always have. That’s the neat thing about a small organization with no staff — people understand that we’re all volunteers and we’re just trying to make something happen.”

Please join us in congratulating Places for People! Tapestry is proud to support this important work. 

Read more about Places for People