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Exchange: The Community-Owned Music Venue

By Learning from Abroad

The journey to community ownership

In 2007, three music lovers based in Bristol – Matt Otridge, Peter Wright, and Paul Horlick – launched The Croft, a live music venue that hosts bands of all genres every night of the week. Within the first few years of operation, their neighbourhood became a popular location for its cultural offerings, and it began to gentrify rapidly. The Croft was threatened by various challenges, but most prominently by developers and rising rents.

Matt, Peter, and Paul knew that once their lease ended, they would not be able to afford the venue anymore. Even amidst the gentrification, they had never changed their business model. What they cared most about was showcasing great music for everyone to enjoy. 

Understanding that they needed a sustainable, long-term solution, they made the decision to purchase a building rather than lease. In 2012, they reopened as Exchange, and in 2017, converted into a community benefit society – a non-profit entity that exists for social purpose. Exchange was already operating with a community-focused approach, so having a legal structure that fit their values just made sense. 

In 2018, Exchange made the bold leap to shift to a community ownership model. The owners believed that conventional lenders were more interested in maximizing their return on investment than supporting Exchange to grow, so they turned to their community. They issued a community share offer and raised £300,000 from over 400 community members in just under two months. Individuals and institutions invested anywhere from £250 to £100,000. You can view Exchange’s community share offer document from 2018 here

The impact of the community share offer

Exchange used funds from the community share offer to improve the venue’s sustainability and accessibility. They built new stages, improved the lighting and sound systems, and built an accessible toilet. In fact, the funds helped them become the first grassroots music venue in the United Kingdom to achieve the Gold award on the Attitude is Everything Live Events Access Charter, an accessibility award for venues in the United Kingdom. As of Feb 2023, they are also in the process of retrofitting the entire roof with solar panels!

On top of the venue’s improvements, Exchange embedded long term sustainability into the business model. With over 400 co-owners, the venue will continue to exist, even if one of the original owners decided to step away.

Exchange is a community benefit society… but what exactly does that mean? 

A community benefit society is a legal, not-for-profit entity in the United Kingdom whose purpose is to serve the interests of the community. Similar legal forms are only legislated in two provinces in Canada, including British Columbia’s “Community Contribution Company” and “Benefit Company” and Nova Scotia’s “Community Interest Company”. Community benefit societies may be compared to co-operatives in Canada, however, co-operatives serve the interests of their members rather than the broader community. There are four key characteristics of a community benefit society: 

  1. Purpose: A community benefit society’s business must be entirely for the benefit of the community
  2. Membership: A community benefit society issues shares for community members to invest in the business and become owners, or members. They operate on the one-member-one-vote principle which ensures equal say for all members regardless of how much they invested. No one member is granted greater rights or benefits because they invested more money into the business. 
  3. Application of profits: Any profit generated by the community benefit society must be used for the benefit of the community. Profits cannot be distributed to its members, unlike in a co-operative. 
  4. Use of assets: Assets must be used for the benefit of the community. There is an asset lock which means if a community benefit society is sold, for example, its assets must continue to be used for the benefit of the community rather than distributing them to members. 

More Than Music

Exchange is certainly a music venue, yes, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a record shop and recording studio for local promoters and record labels. It’s a coffee shop and bar that offers sustainable, local coffee and snacks. It’s an event space for the community to host workshops, plays, flea markets, art exhibitions, conferences, and pop-up kitchens. Exchange is a pillar of its community, providing real social and cultural value.

It’s no surprise that community members rallied together to invest in Exchange’s future!

Photo credits: Exchange, 

About this Blog Series

Hi, my name is Jasleen Bahia, and I was once an Intern at Tapestry Community Capital. I am now completing my degree in business with a focus on social finance, and I’m currently doing a semester abroad in Europe. While here, I am Tapestry’s Ambassador to the UK. This blog series documents my adventure abroad learning about the social finance ecosystem in the UK and connecting it to our growing community investment marketplace in Canada. I am eager to find out what we can learn, replicate and share!

Community Pubs are Community Hubs 

By Learning from Abroad

In the UK, the pub is more than just a place to sip on a beer – it’s a unique social center, and often the heart of community life in villages and towns. So the fact that hundreds of communities around the UK have rallied to take joint ownership and save their pubs should come as no surprise. In 2021 alone, 15 community pubs raised £3.9 million from their communities in the UK to purchase their local joints.

To learn more about how community pubs operate, their impact in the community, and the financing models that have allowed communities to save these important spaces, I spoke with Chris Cowcher from the Plunkett Foundation, a national charity that supports rural communities across the UK to tackle the issues they face through community business. 

What is a community pub?

A community pub, or community-owned pub, is a business owned and operated by people within the community for local benefit. Individuals become owners by investing in the pub’s community shares. They invest as little as £1 or a maximum of £100,000 and become a shareholder, or member, of the pub. Members then create a centrally-elected committee that is responsible for the governance and maintenance of the pub. The committee elects management and staff to run the day-to-day operations. 

Community pubs have proven themselves to be sustainable businesses. In 2020, despite widespread pandemic closures, only one out of 147 community pubs closed. And the sector continues to experience steady growth. 

Plunkett Foundation encourages rural assets into community ownership so that they can generate greater social, economic, and environmental impact. To best serve the needs of locals, community pubs expand their offerings beyond food and drink. For example, many community pubs offer meeting spaces, host community clubs and bands, or operate cafes and post offices within the pub. It’s clear that they’re not just community pubs – they’re community hubs. 

How are community pubs financed? 

The largest barrier to establishing a community pub is the initial capital needed to purchase and set up the pub building. In 2021, the average cost of purchasing a community pub was £314,000 and the average set-up cost was £244,000. Community pubs are most often financed using community shares. According to Chris, there are two important reasons why the community share model is a good fit. First, significant amounts of capital can be raised quickly. Second, community shares amass collective membership from many people in the community, with pubs averaging 200 members. They also return wealth to the communities that support them – Chris shared that the current rate of return for a community pub investment ranges from 2-3%.

What can we learn?

Community-owned businesses are sustainable businesses. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis in the UK, community pubs experienced continual growth. Community pubs in the UK present a strong case for the economic value and social benefit that emerges from expanding the community-owned enterprise sector. 

Having a dedicated program of support for community-owned businesses is game-changing. For instance, Plunkett offered a program in England called “More Than A Pub” which provided groups with business development support and funding to enable community ownership of pubs. This program grew the sector by 50% over five years and England now has the highest density of community pubs in the UK. The UK Community Ownership Fund is another initiative by the government which has allocated £150 million over five years to the ownership of assets at risk of being lost to the community. Community pubs have been the largest beneficiaries in early rounds of this initiative. 

Success breeds success. Plunkett has seen a cluster effect where community businesses are more likely to locate themselves in areas with other successful community businesses so they can inspire and learn from each other. It can be scary to be one of the first organizations to adopt a new structure or financing model, but know that change can bring immense benefits AND you’ll be inspiring many others to follow suit. With resources and guidance from organizations like Plunkett and Tapestry, you’ll be well positioned to achieve your goals. 


About this Blog Series

Hi, my name is Jasleen Bahia, and I was once an Intern at Tapestry Community Capital. I am now completing my degree in business with a focus on social finance, and I’m currently doing a semester abroad in Europe. While here, I am Tapestry’s Ambassador to the UK. This blog series documents my adventure abroad learning about the social finance ecosystem in the UK and connecting it to our growing community investment marketplace in Canada. I am eager to find out what we can learn, replicate and share!

Building affordable housing in the UK with Charity Bonds

By Affordable Housing, Learning from Abroad

Since 2010, housing prices in Canada have skyrocketed by 105% and incomes have not increased proportionately. A recent report by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has stated that the scale of the housing challenge is so large that governments cannot solve the problem on their own. An estimated 3.5 million new housing units are needed to achieve affordability by 2030, and this will require innovative financing and collaboration among all types of housing providers – be they non-profit, for-profit, or co-operative. 

Many places in the UK are facing a similar challenge, where housing demand is outstripping supply. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Hightown Housing, a charitable housing association in the United Kingdom that supports people who cannot afford to buy or rent a home at market price. I sat down with David Skinner, Director of Financial Services, and Neil Wray, Head of Treasury, to unpack the importance of Hightown’s work and learn how community investment has helped them to achieve greater impact. Our conversation follows below.

Q: How does Hightown develop affordable housing units? 

A: There are two main streams through which Hightown develops affordable housing units. The first is through a planning agreement called Section 106. Through this agreement, when a developer acquires land, they have to designate a portion of the properties for social housing. Then housing associations, like Hightown, bid to purchase those properties. This has accounted for two-thirds of all of Hightown’s developments in the last year.

In other cases, Hightown will buy land, design the property, and contract a builder to construct them. This method allows for more direct control. We also offer care and supportive housing units uniquely designed for vulnerable populations such as homeless people, young people, mothers and young children, and people with learning disabilities. 

Q: Hightown manages over 8,000 homes. How are these affordable homes financed? 

A: Hightown uses a mixture of financing. Most of it is debt financing – so things like bank loans and loans from the capital markets. We are increasingly acquiring capital from institutional investors such as insurance companies and pension funds. We also use grants from the government and we reinvest any surplus Hightown makes back into the organization. We have also issued two retail charity bonds

Q: How are charity bonds used to finance the affordable housing units? 

A: We’ve issued charity bonds twice now. Individuals wanted to invest in their local housing and we were looking for unsecured financing without having to rely on the bank. Charity bonds enabled us to finance the development of affordable housing units as they were being developed. We did not have to wait until the assets were completed to finance the build. Charity bonds also raised publicity for us and our work. 

In terms of the actual process, we established our financing need, worked with financial consultants, and engaged in lots of community consultations with potential investors. We then issued the bonds through the Retail Charity Bond plc. on the London Stock Exchange and our bond campaign was oversubscribed. Our first charity bond campaign in 2015 raised £27M within a few days. In 2017, we raised £31.5M in a similar time frame. Charity bonds were the perfect tool for us at that time.  

For those interested, here were the terms of each campaign:

2015  2017
  • £27M raise 
  • 4.4% APR, paid semi-annually 
  • Maturity in 10 years 
  • £31.5M raise 
  • 4% APR, paid semi-annually 
  • Maturity in 10 years 
  • Min investment = £500, invest in multiples of £100 after that 

Q: Are there any current developments that Hightown is working on?

A: Yes! Hightown is always working on new projects. We currently have over 40 active projects. One of our largest projects is on a site that used to be an industrial space with warehouses and car lots. We are spending £38M to develop 158 units. This is a combination of flats and houses that will be social housing, affordable rent housing, and shared ownership properties. 

Q: What is the difference between social housing, affordable rent housing, and shared ownership properties? 

A: Social housing is rented at around 60% of the market rent. Affordable rent housing is rented at 80% of the market rent. Shared ownership properties are intended to encourage individuals to climb the housing ladder. Individuals are able to own a portion of the house and rent the remainder. For example, someone may afford to own 60% of a house so they decide to put a down payment on that and get a mortgage. The remaining 40% of the house is still owned by Hightown, so individuals are responsible to pay rent to Hightown for that portion of the house. Ideally, individuals increase their percentage of ownership of the home until they own 100% of it and buy it out from Hightown. 

Q: What impact does Hightown have on its residents and the community? 

A: Hightown’s impact is difficult to quantify. But here are some key figures from our social impact report:

  • 40% of general needs properties were let to homeless households in 2020/21 
  • 80 people moved from temporary homelessness services to stable housing 
  • 776 service users were supported to live with independence 
  • 40 unaccompanied asylum seeking minors were given accommodation and support 
  • Properties improved their energy efficiency rating from C to A/B through retrofits
  • Households saved an average of £247 on fuel savings 
  • Only 1.75 tonnes of CO2 equivalent was emitted per home compared to the sector average of 2.53 tonnes 

Q: What advice do you have for other housing organizations looking to replicate your model? 

A: Go for it! We are all in this sector to solve the housing crisis so we need to develop strategies to do that. For Hightown, that means maximizing development opportunities and maintaining high quality accommodations. Different organizations face different challenges. It’s important not to be complacent and to continue overcoming challenges to achieve our shared bottom line – solving the housing crisis. 


About this Blog Series

Hi, my name is Jasleen Bahia, and I was once an Intern at Tapestry Community Capital. I am now completing my degree in business with a focus on social finance, and I’m currently doing a semester abroad in Europe. While here, I am Tapestry’s Ambassador to the UK. This blog series documents my adventure abroad learning about the social finance ecosystem in the UK and connecting it to our growing community investment marketplace in Canada. I am eager to find out what we can learn, replicate and share!

Let’s Own Our Venues

By Learning from Abroad

In the United Kingdom, Music Venue Trust has launched the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign, giving music supporters across the country a new opportunity to invest in the spaces they love. The campaign, which has garnered support from figures like Ed Sheeran and Sony Music, offers a prime example of how community investment can serve to rescue and maintain vital community assets. 

To better understand Music Venue Trust and the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign, I spoke with Matt Ottridge, the Music Venue Trust Ownership Coordinator. 

The challenge faced by grassroots music venues

Over the last twenty years, many independent music venues in the United Kingdom have shut down. Mark Davyd, Founder of Music Venue Trust, says the main reason for closure is that people who run the independent music venues do not own their premises, and the landlords who do own them don’t care about the impact the venue is delivering. Music venues are often at the mercy of commercial landlords and rising rents, and this issue of ownership is underscored by other challenges such as noise complaints and chronic underinvestment. 

According to Music Venue Trust, 93% of grassroots music venues are tenants with an average lease of 18 months. This prevents venues fully investing in their spaces because there is uncertainty about how long they will be able to stay put. 

The ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign 

Since 2014, Music Venue Trust has advocated for the protection, security, and improvement of UK grassroots music venues for the benefit of venues, communities, and artists. They provide free legal advice, a network for music venues to connect and collaborate, and a multitude of online resources to guide music venue operators. The ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign is one of the organization’s recent initiatives. 

The aim of the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign is to change the ownership model of grassroots music venues. Instead of private landlords owning the spaces and leasing them to music venue operators, Music Venue Trust has set up a community benefit organization, Music Venue Properties, that will purchase the spaces and rent them back to current operators. The value to independent music venues? First and foremost, a landlord who understands their sector. Matt mentions that Music Venue Properties will work with operators, giving them greater assurance over the length of their lease, reduce rents, make contributions to insurance and repairs, help with accessing grants, and analyze their operational models. Music venue operators will develop the security and confidence they need to create and maintain incredible venues that are pillars of their communities.  

Individuals and organizations can purchase community shares issued by Music Venue Properties for as little as £200 and up to £100,000. This investment will fund the purchase of an initial nine music venue properties. In exchange, investors receive a 3% annual return on their investment, become a co-owner of the society and its assets, and play a critical role in saving the independent music venues they love! 

Community financing has saved local pubs, shops, and post offices, amongst other enterprises, and now it’s time for the model to be applied to music venues, too. For more information on the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign, visit

About this Blog Series

Hi, my name is Jasleen Bahia, and I was once an Intern at Tapestry Community Capital. I am now completing my degree in business with a focus on social finance, and I’m currently doing a semester abroad in Europe. While here, I am Tapestry’s Ambassador to the UK. This blog series documents my adventure abroad learning about the social finance ecosystem in the UK and connecting it to our growing community investment marketplace in Canada. I am eager to find out what we can learn, replicate and share!

Marina Eckersley joins the Tapestry Team

By News

Tapestry is thrilled to welcome Marina Eckersley as our newest member of the Campaigns Team. As Campaign Coordinator, Marina will support social purpose organizations to engage their communities, communicate their investment opportunities, and reach their investment targets. With a diverse background in sales and marketing, and a passion for project management, she hopes to contribute to the growth and awareness of the community bond model across Canada. 

“I’ve been called the queen of structured fun,” says Marina. “I think the name fits because I am hyper organized, love a good excel spreadsheet, and keep everyone on track in order to ensure they are having a great time.” We are sure that Marina is going to bring this same spirit and energy to her work with Tapestry clients. 

Marina’s career has led her from the music industry, to journalism and politics. Most recently she traveled across the province as the Events and Tour Coordinator for Mike Schreiner and the Green Party of Ontario. Marina was drawn to the work that Tapestry does because she saw it as an avenue to apply her skills to do good in the world. “Working in the music industry, I often felt jaded. I thought I was going to be helping artists get their music out to the world when in reality, I was trying to squeeze every penny from them.” 

She is also excited about the opportunity to not just plan for change, but to actually put plans into action. “I see community bonds as a way to use the system, to fight the system,” says Marina. “It can be exhausting talking about what we should do and never getting to the point of implementation – this is a chance to actually do it.” 

“As cliché as it may sound, I want to leave the world a better place,” says Marina. The good news is that at Tapestry, we don’t think it’s cliché at all – it’s central to everything we do. We know community bonds are a flexible tool for non-profits and co-operatives to access the capital they need to do more good, and they are also an instrument that can keep wealth within communities. 

In Marina’s spare time she is a baker and avid knitter. In fact, she once auditioned for the Great Canadian Baking Show and her love for knitting once led her to uncover the hidden truths behind Ontario’s wool industry! Check out the fascinating article here

We hope you will have the opportunity to meet and work with Marina. If you are interested in connecting with her, please reach out by email at


What can we learn from the UK’s social investment ecosystem?

By Learning from Abroad

The UK’s social investment ecosystem is proof of the immense growth potential of community bonds in Canada. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ashley Wang from Social Finance UK and Annie Constable from Good Finance to learn more about the UK’s social investment marketplace. Below are three lessons that we can learn from our UK counterparts.

1. Working with leaders in the social investment ecosystem will help non-profits, charities, and co-operatives address knowledge and capacity gaps

In the UK, Big Society Capital is the leading financial institution dedicated to social investment in the UK. Big Society Capital and Access – the Foundation for Social Investment created an organization called Good Finance to address a large knowledge gap they had observed in the social investment ecosystem. Good Finance’s website is home to jargon-busting tools, case studies, and a directory to connect organizations with investors. 

Similarly, in Canada, Tapestry helps organizations to learn about the community bond model and determine whether it’s a good fit for their project. We provide organizations with the resources and tools to fill knowledge and capacity gaps. From understanding terminology, to launching your community bond campaign, we support you every step of the way in whatever capacity you need. Our goal is to ensure that the path to integrating community bonds into your organization is as seamless as possible. 

2. Community investment provides a flexible source of financing

Increasingly, organizations are seeking creative sources of financing that give them the operational flexibility to do what they need to do to achieve their goals. Grants, while providing free capital, can often impose strict requirements that limit project dimensions, and ultimately the impact a project can have. They can also be tedious, time consuming, and unsustainable. For many organizations, terms set by banks and traditional funders won’t be favorable, and often this financing will only provide a portion of the needed capital for a project. 

This is why many organizations in the UK have turned to social investment tools, such as charity bonds, as an alternative. Charity bonds can be seen as the UK equivalent of a community bond (read another blog on this here). Social investment tools are a sustainable solution for organizations to raise the capital they need, and enable individuals to diversify their investment portfolio while creating impact in the community. The massive demand for flexible finance in the UK has brought many impactful investment opportunities to the market and this is sure to happen in Canada as well. 

3. The government has played a critical role in catalyzing the adoption of social investment tools

In the early 2000s, the UK had a build up of dormant account assets – the result of forgotten assets in long-lost bank accounts and insurance policies. In 2008, Parliament passed the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act which directed a large portion of these assets to social investment. Big Society Capital (BSC), was launched with £400 million of dormant account funds. The UK government also offers the Social Investment Tax Relief which is a 30% tax break for individuals who invest in social enterprises, charities, or community businesses.

As of June 2022, the Bank of Canada announced that it is sitting on nearly $1.1 billion in dormant account assets. Right now, this money sits idle with the Bank of Canada for 30-100 years depending on how much is in the account. After that, the money is considered forfeited and is transferred back to the government’s spending accounts. Imagine if Canada implemented a similar act to the UK and directed even 10% of this capital to social investment (that’s $110 million)! Evidently, government initiatives, politicians’ support, and advocacy from organizations can help catalyze the adoption of social investment tools. 

In recent years, the Government of Canada has signaled their support for the social impact market. The launch of the $755 million Social Finance Fund has been a major milestone. This capital is supporting social purpose organizations to become investment ready and bring investment products to the Canadian public. At Tapestry, we are supporting many organizations with funding provided through the Social Finance Fund Investment Readiness Program. To stay up to date on funding opportunities and application deadlines, visit the Community Foundations of Canada website here

About this Blog Series

Hi, my name is Jasleen Bahia, and I was once an Intern at Tapestry Community Capital. I am now completing my degree in business with a focus on social finance, and I’m currently doing a semester abroad in Europe. While here, I am Tapestry’s Ambassador to the UK. This blog series documents my adventure abroad learning about the social finance ecosystem in the UK and connecting it to our growing community investment marketplace in Canada. I am eager to find out what we can learn, replicate and share!


Cover photo credit: Co-operative UK

Charity Bonds take off in the United Kingdom

By Learning from Abroad

Charity bonds, the UK equivalent of community bonds, have taken off rapidly in recent years. From 2012-2020, the charity bond market grew by a remarkable 62x! The size of the market is now estimated to be around £337 million – an astronomical leap from the mere £5.4 million in 2012. More than 30 organizations have seized the opportunity to issue charity bonds and raise capital from their communities of supporters. 

In this article, we explore the immense growth of charity bonds in the UK and what this could mean for community bonds in Canada. 

Let’s start off by understanding the similarities and differences between charity bonds in the UK and community bonds in Canada. 

  • Interest-bearing loans, with a fixed interest rate and a fixed term
  • Used to finance socially and/or environmentally impactful projects
  • Organization issuing the bond must have a source of revenue that will enable them to repay investors
  • More flexible than bank financing because terms are set by issuers and funds are raised from supporters 
  • Engage a variety of investors (individuals, foundations, trusts, etc.) 
  • Can be held in tax-advantaged accounts 

The table below highlights key differences between charity bonds and community bonds: 

Charity Bonds Community Bonds 
Issued by charities and social enterprises  Issued by non-profits, charities, and co-operatives 
Usually unsecured loans (no asset to back investment) Usually secured loans (asset to back investment)
Tradable on the London Stock Exchange  Not tradable 
Typically unrestricted funds  Typically restricted funds 


A market to trade charity bonds

In 2014, the first charity bond was publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange, and many have since followed suit. Being able to list on a public market has provided charities and social enterprises with access to a bigger market, allowing them to reach their investment target more efficiently.

Organizations do not issue their charity bonds directly on the stock exchange. Rather, they go through a “special purpose vehicle” called the Retail Charity Bonds Plc. (RCB). RCB is governed by an independent board of directors who reviews applications from charities and social enterprises. Upon approval, RCB issues the charity bonds on the London Stock Exchange, and then investors can buy and trade the bonds in the secondary market just like any other bond or stock. Fun fact: most organizations can raise their required financing within 1-2 weeks after they launch an offer! 

Community bonds are not yet tradable in Canada, however, as the market continues to grow rapidly, we are hopeful of such initiatives. Based on the UK experience, it’s clearly a win-win for investors and social purpose organizations.

Building confidence has been critical

In 2014, Big Society Capital launched the Charity Bond Support Fund, in collaboration with Rathbones. The purpose of the fund was to co-invest in campaigns alongside retail and institutional investors when campaigns were not fully subscribed. This had a dual purpose – to give confidence to issuers that they would reach their targeted investment goal, but also to give confidence to investors. The initial fund was £30 million, but has since grown to £163 million with a diverse array of investors engaged.

The emergence of sales platforms has helped the community investment market to grow

Many community investment platforms have been developed in the UK to a) encourage organizations to use social finance tools and b) encourage individuals to invest in social finance tools. For example, Ethex is a non-profit community investment platform that connects social purpose organizations with investors. In 2020, Ethex and Energise Africa raised a total of £100 million of people-powered finance to benefit over 200 community-oriented projects. 

Such sales platforms have brought charity bonds into the mainstream by making the investment process simple yet professional. It is now easier than ever to invest with impact in the UK.

By learning from partners, both near and far, we at Tapestry continue to foster community bonds as a mainstream form of financing and an avenue to invest in society.

About this Blog Series

Hi, my name is Jasleen Bahia, and I was once an Intern at Tapestry Community Capital. I am now completing my degree in business with a focus on social finance, and I’m currently doing a semester abroad in Europe. While here, I am Tapestry’s Ambassador to the UK. This blog series documents my adventure abroad learning about the social finance ecosystem in the UK and connecting it to our growing community investment marketplace in Canada. I am eager to find out what we can learn, replicate and share!

Working with Tapestry

By News

For the past 5 months, the Tapestry team has had the pleasure of working with Suzanne Faiza. Suzanne, joined our team as a Researcher, supporting Tapestry’s involvement in the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge, as well as a clean energy project in Atlantic Canada. 

This fall Suzanne will be returning to her Masters of Planning program at the University of Toronto, equipped with new experience and expertise in social finance and community economic development. 

Suzanne, who originally trained and worked as an architect, contributed a wealth of understanding of the affordable housing sector to our growing team. Beyond her knowledge, she brought incredible enthusiasm and excitement to every aspect of work she engaged in. 

“Working on the Housing Supply Challenge was an incredible experience,” she shares, “It gave me an amazing opportunity to understand the affordable housing landscape in Ontario, learn first hand from those actively trying to solve what is one of our country’s greatest challenges, and see the role that social finance can play in increasing Canada’s affordable housing supply.” 

One of Suzanne’s key responsibilities was coordinating and leading stakeholder research. Engaging with co-ops, government bodies, non-profits, and investors, Suzanne always came prepared with creative questions and eagerness to learn from those we consulted with. 

“Attempting to find out what people need is really the bread and butter of being a planner, so it was great to put my facilitation skills to use.”

Contributing to a clean energy project was something new and exciting for Suzanne.

“I’ll be honest, at the beginning it was a little daunting for me because I had to play catch up and learn so many new terms and acronyms!” Suzanne admits. “I really appreciated that the team gave me the opportunity to just absorb information when I needed to,” she said, “In our housing work, I was building off previous experience, but in our clean energy project, a lot of it was completely new to me, so it was very rewarding.”

Reflecting on her experience with the Tapestry team, Suzanne shared that she appreciated the lack of hierarchy in sharing and contributing ideas, the strong commitment of the organization to work-life balance, and the support which she received to grow in her role. 

“Easily the best place I’ve ever worked at!” Suzanne concludes with a big smile. 

We are eager to see where Suzanne’s next year of her Masters program takes her and know that we will be collaborating again in the near future! 

Are you interested in social finance and the work that we do at Tapestry? Keep an eye on our Careers page for new opportunities and sign up to our newsletter for the most current updates on open positions.

Three years after the raise: an update from the Argonaut Rowing Club

By Client Stories, News

It’s been three years since the Argonaut Rowing Club successfully completed their community bond raise of $1.2 million. The funds from their 90 investors were put to use to revitalize their facilities after a flood caused by the high waters of Lake Ontario resulted in severe damage, and today the Club is looking better than ever! “The renovations have changed everything,” shares Jason van Ravenswaay, President of the Club. “Members are proud of the facility, they are referring others to join, and we have so much dock space for our rowers. We have a real community feeling now, because we have this amazing space where people want to be and catch up.” 

In the wake of the flood, the Board knew they needed to make major repairs but they chose to view the renovations as an opportunity rather than a burden. They saw the opportunity to make the Club fully accessible to their para-athletes and all guests, create new gym space for erging and weightlifting, build new and much needed dock space, and give a facelift to their event space – an important source of revenue for the non-profit organization. And they chose to make this a reality by allowing their supporters to become investors.



The last few years have not been without hurdles but the Club weathered the storm that Covid-19 brought on, due in large part to the strong cohesion of their community. “Covid was a scary time because there were so many unknowns,” shares Jason. “We had no clue if it was going to continue for 2 weeks, 2 months or two years!”

The Club was closed for short periods in 2020/21 due to province and city-wide restrictions and faced challenges to run two of their most important programs as a result – Camp Argo and Learn to Row. Fortunately, through the perseverance and creativity of their leadership team, the Club was able to reopen through a pilot program launched with Rowing Canada. “The idea was that we could do a test run of how rowing Clubs across Canada could reopen safely,” Jason explains. 

The Club invested in a new fleet of single boats – a necessity with regulations on social distancing and maintaining bubbles. They also got creative with new equipment like oar boards (a quasi paddle board/rowing boat). “The great thing is that this ingenuity has led to some great new developments for the Club. The oar boards have been wildly popular and it’s a fun new offering for us,” says Jason with a smile. 

The tribulations brought on by Covid never affected the Argonaut Rowing Club community bond investors. “We were concerned about the bond holders and adhering to our repayment schedule,” Jason shares. “We considered a number of different options, including the potential to defer interest payments by a year, but we never needed to do that because we got creative with new sources of revenue and really cut costs – all while keeping our employees on board.”

The Argonaut Rowing Club has a close relationship with their investors and believe in always keeping an open and transparent channel of communication. “Our investors were very supportive, they applauded our leadership, offered to help, and many even chose to donate their interest payments back to us,” says Jason. “Through it all, the Club really came together.”

The future is looking very bright for the Argonaut Rowing Club. They are seeing great demand for their event space now that restrictions are being lifted, the rowers are eager to get back out onto the water (in some of the Club’s beautiful crew boats this summer!) and members are gearing up to celebrate the Club’s 150th anniversary this June. The Club has also established a diversity and inclusion committee and allocated 10 free memberships to remove barriers to youth in the local community. 

ARC recently made a momentous announcement that they will become the official rowing center of the University of Toronto (U of T). “A partnership with a university is something we have wanted for a long time now,” says Jason, who is clearly excited about this new development. “We have this brilliant juniors program and so many talented young athletes. We have watched so many of them graduate and leave the Club to pursue rowing at universities outside Toronto.” The hope of the Club is that they can support the university with their recruitment and create continuity to keep their former Junior Argos at the Club. “We are confident that we can help U of T transition into that brand of being a rowing school.”

The Argonaut Rowing Club has a track record to back this up. They have seen their Argo rowers off to a multitude of national and international competitions. Three Argo alumni (Gavin Stone Men’s 4-, Sydney Payne Women’s 8 and Vicky Nolan in the PR3Mix 4+) competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this past summer. “We hope with this new partnership with U of T, we will see more amazing young athletes sticking around to become the next leaders of the Club.”

When asked if there are future projects on the horizon for the Club, Jason said “I’m the type of person that is always thinking of what I can do next, but to be honest, the Club is looking great and there aren’t many items on my to-do list anymore.” For the time being, ARC is focused on growing their membership, developing its staffing model and continuing to provide the high quality programming that they are so well known for.

EcoCharge Trottier Family Foundation Investment

Earth Day Canada receives large investment from the Trottier Family Foundation

By Client Stories, News

Earth Day Canada’s community bond campaign has surpassed the $1 million mark with a $300,000 investment from the Trottier Family Foundation. “Not only is this the first community bond campaign to fund the clean transportation transition in Canada, but it is also now the largest community financing project to date in Quebec,” says Tapestry’s Co-Executive Director, Ryan Collin-Swartz. 

The campaign, which will raise a total of $2 million in community investment, will finance the construction of a network of 100 electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations that will stretch across New Brunswick and Quebec. 

“We are actively working to develop new ways for mobility because we acknowledge that at the center of the climate change issue is the way our society moves. We want to be part of getting EVs to the masses and democratizing the needed infrastructure,” says Pierre Lussier, President of Earth Day Canada.

In addition to the environmental return of the project, community bonds will offer investors 4% interest per year for a period of 7 years or 3.5% per year for a period of 5 years. Investors will also receive free recharging time at EcoCharge stations.

“We are proud to take part in this social project, which is consistent with our mission,” says Éric St-Pierre, the Executive Director of Trottier Family Foundation. The foundation has also said they will extend the impact of their investment by committing their earned interest to other environmental initiatives. “We will put out a call for projects every year for five years and invite applicants to propose environmental initiatives for grants of up to $20,000,” Éric St-Pierre shares. 

The investment campaign is open to all Canadians interested in investing with impact. To learn more about the campaign, visit Earth Day Canada’s EcoCharge website here




Images courtesy of Earth Day Canada