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Stephanie Pinnington

Financing Affordable Housing: Propolis Cooperative Housing Society

By Affordable Housing

Propolis is a non-profit co-operative based in Kamloops, B.C. that is creating a community of environmentally conscious individuals, brought together by a shared vision of affordable and sustainable housing.

We had the pleasure of meeting Lindsay Harris, the co-founder and president of the Propolis Cooperative Housing Society, and learning more about their ambitions for the co-ops’ first project. Lindsay, who works with Kamloops Food Policy Council, has long had a focus on community economic development. “I have always taken a systems approach to food insecurity, and for me, that also encompasses housing,” she shares. 

Propolis has partnered with local Kamloops resident, Miles Pruden, who owns a sustainable real estate development company, to bring the project to life. Miles’ company, Nexbuild Construction, built what has been dubbed as Kamloops’ most sustainable multi-family home (which can be viewed below). With Miles’ expertise, the co-op hopes to construct housing that is not only better for the environment but also reduces ongoing energy and maintenance expenses for tenants. 

Lindsay got in touch with Tapestry Community Capital because she sees Community Bonds as a flexible tool that could work in tandem with financing that they are hoping to secure from the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC). Over the last year, Lindsay has conducted her own research on the community financing landscape in British Columbia, making use of a BC-based toolkit for starting a community investment cooperative. “I wear a lot of hats and have many projects on the go, and I decided I ultimately didn’t have the capacity to also start up a community investment co-operative, and that’s why I was so excited to learn that Tapestry already has the needed infrastructure in place to raise community investment.”

“One of the things that has become very evident from our conversations with our network and with the community is that there are a number of people that are very interested in substantively supporting this work but we need a platform for them to be able to invest,” Lindsay shares. Lindsay came prepared with a list of questions about Community Bonds, all of which are very familiar to the Tapestry Team. 

 

Are we better to have a smaller group of high-net-worth investors, or a wider group of community members contributing smaller investments?

This is a common question, and the simple answer is – it depends. Community bonds offer an incredible pathway to engage your community and create lasting relationships. On the flip side, we understand that organizations need capital to bring their projects to life. “We think there can be a happy medium and that’s why we often design a Community Bond campaign with multiple investment options,” shares Ryan Collins-Swartz, Tapestry’s Co-Executive Director.  “For example, there may be one bond that offers a lower entry point and perhaps a shorter duration, and this would allow for more widespread engagement, and then another that might have a higher entry point, longer duration and slightly higher interest rate that is better suited to higher net worth individuals.”

 

Is it possible for institutions to invest in Community Bonds, such as foundations?

“Definitely!” shares Ryan. “We see huge interest from foundations because many have earmarked specific funds for impact investment, and they are always on the lookout for investable projects with social and environmental impact. We have also seen companies, both big and small, being very interested in investing.”

 

How are interest rates set?

This is a key step in the Tapestry process. We want to make sure that Community Bond issuers are going to the market with an investment opportunity that fits their financial needs, but also an offering that is exciting and attractive to their community. “It’s a multi-step process, but financial modelling of an organization’s financial capacity and projects, along with community consultations, is really key,” shares Ryan. 

 

Can community bonds offer patient capital?

“The beautiful thing about Community Bonds is that they put the control in the hands of the issuer. If you wanted to issue a bond with a 15-year term, we could certainly explore your community’s appetite to make a longer-term investment,” says Ryan. 

 

Lindsay shared that prior to meeting Tapestry they had a perception that raising community investment was a complex process, and they had felt fearful to take it on alone. “Kamloops is an incredibly community-minded place, and I have no doubt that there would be widespread support and involvement in a campaign like this.”

The Co-op is currently looking at properties for their first project and are advocating to the City of Kamloops to sell a piece of city-owned property. Lindsay shares that this has been a slow process, but that moving on private properties comes with its own set of challenges. “We are definitely facing hurdles in terms of being able to move quickly on a property – we are hoping Community Bonds can be part of the solution.”

Financing Affordable Housing: Mainstay Housing

By Affordable Housing

In the Spring of 2021, Mainstay Housing and Houselink Community Homes merged to form Houselink & Mainstay. Together this new organization is the largest supportive housing and non-profit housing provider in Canada. They have a portfolio of about 60 buildings across the City of Toronto, and manage another 300 units through partnerships with private landlords. They also provide support services, beyond housing, to more than 900 individuals.

“This merger really made sense for a number of reasons,” explains Gautam Mukherjee, Houselink & Mainstay Executive Director, “for one, it meant that we could leverage a larger balance sheet to fund new developments.” The organization’s strategic plan has a strong focus on accessibility and scale with the development of purpose built, mixed-income housing. 

“About half our portfolio are rooming houses, with people sharing bathrooms and kitchens, and we know that for some populations of people receiving our support services, it’s just not the right housing setting,” says Gautam. Part of the organization’s strategy is to raise capital through the sale of these rooming houses, in order to fund new builds that better fit their clients needs.

“We are actively in the land market, and had an offer signed back recently – I think this could be a great demonstration project for community investment,” says Gautam. He explains that underwriting has become very challenging in recent months, with interest rates and building costs up. “What originally looked like $6.5 million needed in owner equity could now be upwards of $20 million and we will have a gap to fill,” he explains. 

The organization recently incorporated a non-profit subsidiary to take on the development on behalf of Houselink & Mainstay. This subsidiary has a clear mandate for the development of mixed income housing. The parent organization will then deploy rent supplements to ensure that a percentage of the units are supportive, and provide support services to tenants. 

The conversation shifts away from Houselink & Mainstay for a moment as Gautam gives the Tapestry team a quick 101 on the affordable housing policy framework in Ontario. He explains that the model has shifted over the years away from supportive housing grant funding to the provision of rent supplements. In the case of the Ontario Ministry of Health, they are providing rent subsidies directly to community agencies, who then decide how to use them. “In some cases an agency will lease one unit, or a few units, and in others they might lease an entire building.” 

“Essentially, we are a conduit for providing equity, in the form of rent subsidies,” explains Gautam, “and most of these subsidies end up in the hands of private landlords – so we are really just transferring equity to them.”

When Houselink & Mainstay sell their rooming houses their operating funding will convert to rent supplements, which they will be allowed to transfer to other properties.  “These rent subsidies cover 100% of average market rent (AMR) and we intend to redeploy them into our own newly built units.” 

Gautam is of the opinion that things can only get better from here. “We haven’t seen indications of increasing grant amounts to offset rate increases, or make stress tests easier. And there is no provincial participation, so that can only improve.” Gautam believes we may also see the City of Toronto wave development charges for non-profit projects where a certain proportion of units are affordable. 

“I think the land economics are the same for everybody – private or non-profit,” says Gautam, “and if we want to compete, we need to get into the land market and be willing to take some risks.” He’s of the view that if these projects, in the worst case, can work as market developments, then non-profits should be initiating projects. “We need to give the government projects to invest into because they’re not coming to the table proactively.” 

Gautam sees the benefits of allowing community members to invest in these projects too. “Getting community buy-in for what we are doing is very appealing, and there’s obviously the need to bring in new capital.” Gautam also shares that their Board has been considering different ways to grow the community profile of the organization.

“When we do talk publicly about what we are doing, we are getting traction. But historically, we haven’t used that momentum for fundraising, and we don’t have a way to do what you are doing,” says Gautam with a smile, “of course, that’s why you are doing it!” 

“I’ve long been supportive of community funding for housing development  – I think it’s brilliant!” Gautam wraps up, “we just need to know what to do and where to go.” 

About this Blog Series

In October 2021, Tapestry was selected to take part in a Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) program called the Housing Supply Challenge. This innovative competition encourages residents, interested parties, and experts from across the country to propose creative solutions to housing. The goal: to help meet Canada’s pressing need for safe and affordable homes by breaking down barriers to the creation of new supply.

Tapestry participated in Round 2 of the program, Getting Started, which seeks to find solutions to pre-development challenges, such as community resistance and obtaining financing. The program granted incubation funding to the 29 organizations selected to allow them to further develop and test their solution proposals.

Through six months of research and consultation, we had the opportunity to speak with over 40 interested parties in the affordable housing sector, from housing providers, to development consultants, to funders and lenders. Each and every individual and organization consulted helped to co-design our solution proposal.

The “Financing Affordable Housing with the Power of Community” blog series shares the lessons learnt and stories heard from some of the amazing organizations that we have partnered with.

The Power of Co-operation

By News

This week is Co-op Week, a time to celebrate the impact that the co-operative sector has had on communities across Canada, and reflect on co-operative values and principles.

So, what exactly is a co-op?

Co-operatives are people-centered enterprises that are owned and controlled by and for their members to bring about common economic, social, and/or cultural goals. Co-operatives bring people together in a democratic and equitable way, following the ‘one member, one vote’ principle. 

As a co-operative organization ourselves, and one that supports other co-operatives to raise community investment, we firmly believe in the benefits that co-operatives bring to society. Because they are not owned by shareholders, co-ops are a vehicle that allow people to take control of their economic future and retain economic and social benefits within their communities. 

More broadly than this, we believe in co-operation – co-operation among community members, among community organizations, among sectors – to create a better future. Co-operation is at the core of what we do, and the essence of community financing. We know that doing things together yields far better results than when done alone. 

To mark the occasion of Co-op Week, our team has been reflecting on this years’ theme: “Co-operation in the World of Tomorrow”. 

Mary Warner, Co-Executive Director 

Mary Warner“I believe in a future where profits are returned to supporters rather than banks, and where investors can feel proud that they put their money in something that they believe in. To me, ‘co-operation in the world of tomorrow’ means communities coming together to support a common goal and jointly investing the capital it will take to realize that vision.”

Satyameet Singh, Campaign Manager

Satyameet Singh“A Co-operative offers it’s members a concrete way to contribute to our inter-dependent reality; one where bridges replace walls. At Tapestry, when I see a cool Co-operative in action – one with shameless idealism and a strong collective resolve – I feel alive.” 

Karen Scottie, Human Resources and Administration Manager 

Headshot“I imagine a world where problems, such as climate change, homelessness and poverty, are not shrugged off due to profit’s bottom line. I see inclusive communities whose inhabitants, both human and non-human, flourish with home-fullness, vibrant public and active transportation, and an economy based on the health of the planet. One step toward this vision is if community members could raise their own funds for their projects, to be the investors themselves. Community bonds make this possible.”

Tapestry receives CMHC support to mobilize investment in affordable housing

By Affordable Housing, News

Tapestry Community Capital has been selected as a winner of the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) Housing Supply Challenge to scale up community investment in the affordable housing sector. 

“We are incredibly excited to have the support of CMHC,” says Ryan Collins-Swartz, Co-Executive Director of Tapestry. “With this funding, we will help affordable housing providers to tap into a new source of capital, enable more projects to get off the ground, and increase the supply of affordable housing in Canada.”  

Community bonds are a social finance tool used by nonprofits, charities and co-ops to finance capital projects with impact. Similar to traditional bonds, they are interest bearing loans. The key difference – they provide investors with both a financial and social return. 

While unlocking private capital, community bonds also build a powerful sense of community ownership. Residents, local businesses, and institutions alike can all invest to improve their community, while earning a fair return. Organizations such as Brique par Brique in Montreal, QC and The Mount in Peterborough, ON have successfully utilized community bonds to finance the construction of affordable housing. 

“We have witnessed the power of community bonds to garner community support for projects,” says Mary Warner, Co-Executive Director at Tapestry. “When someone becomes an investor, they are not only becoming financially invested but also emotionally invested in the outcome of the project. For a sector that is often afflicted by NIMBYism, this support is critical.” 

Tapestry is working with multiple partners to support program implementation. Key to the solution are twelve demonstration projects that will utilize and showcase the community bond model. Cumulatively, these projects will leverage $40 million in community investment, financing over 2000 affordable housing units. 

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Tapestry to build a long term, sustainable, and value aligned funding source for our organizations to acquire and preserve affordable housing,” says Chiyi Tam, Executive Director of the Kensington Market Community Land Trust. “We are eager to forge a path forward, demonstrate the community bond model, and support other like minded organizations to follow in our footsteps.” 

The solution also focuses on increasing the participation of retail and institutional investors in affordable housing. By raising awareness among investors and streamlining the process to invest in community bonds, Tapestry will grow the community investment marketplace tenfold. 

“We know there is very strong interest among investors to support affordable housing projects and Tapestry is creating the pathway to make that a reality across communities” says Mritunjay (MJ) Sinha, Tapestry Board Member and responsible and impact investment advisor. 

The program will launch in October 2022 and run until March 2024. For more information about the upcoming events and support for community financing, sign up to The Thread newsletter here.


Photo credit: Cathy Crowe

About Tapestry Community Capital

Tapestry Community Capital is Canada’s leading non-profit service provider for community bonds. For the last decade, Tapestry has been supporting social purpose organizations across Canada to assess, structure, market, and manage community investments. Tapestry raised over  $90 million from over 4,000 community investors

For media inquiries, please contact Stephanie Pinnington at Stephanie@tapestrycapital.ca.

About the Housing Supply Challenge 

The Housing Supply Challenge is an innovative competition that encourages interested parties from across the country to propose creative solutions to Canada’s housing crisis. The goal: to help meet Canada’s pressing need for safe and affordable homes by breaking down barriers to the creation of new supply.

Tapestry participated in Round 2 of the program, Getting Started, which seeks to find solutions to pre-development challenges, such as community resistance and obtaining financing. The program granted incubation funding to 29 organizations to allow them to further develop and test their solution proposal. After six months of research and consultation, Tapestry submitted a final solution funding proposal – “Financing Affordable Housing with the Power of Community”. Tapestry is one of 14 organizations selected for funding and will share a pool of $38 million to implement their solutions. 

Financing Affordable Housing: Community Involvement Legacy Homes

By Affordable Housing

Michael Stanley, Executive Director of Community Involvement Legacy Homes, was sitting in his MBA Finance class at Cape Breton University when he first learned about Community Bonds. “I thought to myself, wow, this is amazing and why am I only learning about it now?!’’ Michael tells us enthusiastically as we meet them for the first time over a Zoom call. 

Community Involvement Legacy Homes (CILH) was founded in 2007 and currently owns and operates nine single-family homes for adults with intellectual disabilities. Michael shares that they have been quietly operating in the community for many years but they are looking to rise to the occasion, and be an active partner in expanding affordable living options for all people, but in particular community members with intellectual disabilities. “We want a deeper tie and to share our history with the community. We are envisioning a community imagined, community-driven, and community-owned initiative for people to live well in our neighbourhood,” he shared.

CILH has a new project in the works to build and operate an affordable co-housing development in the Leeds and Grenville region. The project will be a three-way partnership with a nearby township that will provide the parcel of land, and a developer of prefabricated cabins.

“We need to think about the price of the unit, the rent for the tenants, but also about the carrying costs to the tenant and to us as the property manager,” says Michael. “These cabins are amazing because they are extremely energy efficient, low maintenance and even come equipped with rooftop solar installations.” The organization has also been in conversations with a local renewable energy co-operative to expand the solar energy production possible on the site.  

Financially, the organization is in a very stable position. With all nine properties nearing the end of their mortgage terms, there is sizable equity that can be leveraged for future projects. Despite having carried debt on multiple properties for many years, Michael shares that the Board of Directors still has trepidations about taking on the risk and opportunity of such an investment. “I think it all comes down to this being very new, and it seems sort of out of left field when compared to our current model.” 

“There are some areas where we would definitely need help,” shares Michael, “I think particularly on the marketing and community outreach piece, we would need more support.” Michael is the only paid employee of the organization and only works part-time.

We concluded our call on a high note. Michael shared his excitement for doing something new and innovative, and for the potential to introduce the concept of community financing to the Leeds Grenville region. “I think we have the perfect storm here,” says Michael with a smile, “Coming out of COVID, I think we all have a new and deeper appreciation for community. I love the community bond model because it allows us to take direct action rather than wait for the big powers that be to decide if our community deserves funding.”

About this Blog Series

In October 2021, Tapestry was selected to take part in a Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) program called the Housing Supply Challenge. This innovative competition encourages residents, interested parties, and experts from across the country to propose creative solutions to housing. The goal: to help meet Canada’s pressing need for safe and affordable homes by breaking down barriers to the creation of new supply.

Tapestry participated in Round 2 of the program, Getting Started, which seeks to find solutions to pre-development challenges, such as community resistance and obtaining financing. The program granted incubation funding to the 29 organizations selected to allow them to further develop and test their solution proposals. 

Through six months of research and consultation, we had the opportunity to speak with over 40 interested parties in the affordable housing sector, from housing providers, to development consultants, to funders and lenders. Each and every individual and organization consulted helped to co-design our solution proposal. 

The “Financing Affordable Housing with the Power of Community” blog series shares the lessons learnt and stories heard from some of the amazing organizations that we have partnered with.

Financing Affordable Housing: Kensington Market Community Land Trust 

By Affordable Housing

In October 2021, Tapestry was selected to take part in a Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) program called the Housing Supply Challenge. This innovative competition encourages residents, interested parties, and experts from across the country to propose creative solutions to housing. The goal: to help meet Canada’s pressing need for safe and affordable homes by breaking down barriers to the creation of new supply.

Tapestry participated in Round 2 of the program, Getting Started, which seeks to find solutions to pre-development challenges, such as community resistance and obtaining financing. The program granted incubation funding to the 29 organizations selected to allow them to further develop and test their solution proposals. 

Through six months of research and consultation, we had the opportunity to speak with over 40 interested parties in the affordable housing sector, from housing providers, to development consultants, to funders and lenders. Each and every individual and organization consulted helped to co-design our solution proposal. 

In this blog series, “Financing Affordable Housing with the Power of Community”, we will be sharing the lessons learnt and stories heard from some of the amazing organizations that we have partnered with, including Kensington Market Community Land Trust, featured in this article.

Kensington Market is under tremendous economic and development pressure.

Renters are being pushed out of their homes, food sellers are losing their stores and diversity and affordability – the very soul of the Market – are under threat. The Kensington Market Community Land Trust (KMCLT) is a grassroots organization actively addressing this crisis. The land trust acquires and provides management of land, in perpetuity, removing properties from the pressures of the commercial real estate market.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Chiyi Tam, the Executive Director of KMCLT, to learn more about the land trust’s goals and plans for acquiring properties. We got right into it when Chiyi began telling us the story of how KMCLT came to own their first property last year – with only a $75 balance in their bank account at the time and a $6.25 million ticket price on the building. 

“It was truly amazing,” Chiyi shared, “as the story often does, it began with community organizing.” In 2018, tenants living in 54-56 Kensington, a 12-unit residential building, were unfairly threatened with illegal eviction. “It was very clear that the landlord’s intention was to convert the units into short-term rentals, and the only way to prevent this was to keep those tenants in place.” 

The community activated quickly, and with the support of individual neighbours, the Friends of Kensington Market and Kensington-Bellwoods Community Legal Services, all tenants resisted the eviction attempt and remained in their units.

Two years later, the building came up for sale. With leadership from City Councilor Mike Layton, The City of Toronto stepped in with a $3 million forgivable loan, recognizing that if this building was purchased privately it would mean losing affordable housing units; and a down payment was made possible through a neighbour in the market that personally put up $300,000. 

To complete the financing puzzle, KMCLT worked with a number of financial institutions, including Vancity Community Investment Bank, which Chiyi says played a critical role in mentoring them through the process, and Alterna, who came through with the mortgage. They also received a very last-minute 0% vendor take-back (VTB) mortgage for $250,000 to cover the remaining capital costs. “I was concerned about repaying the VTB through fundraising, but within a week of the news getting out, we had collected $12,000 in donations,” shared Chiyi. 

With their first project under their belt, Chiyi shares that they are ready to take on a second project. “Neighbours and community members have been mapping property ownership and building types in our area, helping us identify acquisition targets and buildings at risk of private redevelopment. That’s our shopping list.” Chiyi shares with a smile. 

Chiyi believes Community Bonds could be an important piece of their financing for acquiring new properties, or potentially developing a new mixed-use, mixed-income build in the pipeline. It is clear that what KMCLT is doing is resonating and there is widespread community support, not just in Kensington Market among residents and businesses, but across the entire city. “Everyone benefits from this amazing place and wants to maintain its eclectic, inclusive soul.”

Chiyi shared that there was much discussion among their Board about the direction of their future financing. “They understood the different risks and costs associated with pursuing a traditional charitable approach and taking on investment. I think this comes down to our overall financial literacy as an organization, and our core values about how we are held accountable by our members, donors, and investors.”

A key takeaway from our conversation is the power of connecting with like-minded organizations to learn through their experiences. Chiyi highlighted that the mentorship they received from the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust in acquiring their first property was invaluable. “It was like group therapy for the anxiety of going through a commercial acquisition project,” says Chiyi with a sigh of relief that that chapter has closed. “I don’t think we could have done it without that direct transfer of knowledge and support.”

Chiyi hopes to be able to work with Tapestry and pilot the Community Bond model for other land trusts to be able to replicate in the future.

 

 

*Please note the ’Financing affordable housing with the power of community’ project received Incubation Funding under the Housing Supply Challenge – Getting Started Round, however, the views expressed are the personal views of the author and CMHC accepts no responsibility for them.

**Photos provided courtesy of Kensington Market Community Land Trust www.kmclt.ca

Welcoming three new staff members to the Tapestry Team

By News

We are thrilled to welcome three new team members to Tapestry! As our team grows, so too does our breath and depth of expertise. Marzie Aghdaee, Suzanne Faiza and Baljmaa Zorig are helping us to expand the reach of the community bond model through research and innovation in the affordable housing and clean energy arenas. 

Meet our new team members below!

 

Marzie Aghdaee, Senior Researcher, Affordable Housing

Marzie describes herself as a jack of all trades, with a career path that led her from cell biology to civic tech, youth empowerment, political engagement and education. The constant throughout her career has been her deep interest in, and passion for, systems thinking and people-centered research design. She has spent the vast majority of her career working with nonprofits, first with rural and marginalized communities in Iran, and more recently in Peru and Canada. For the past 8 years, she has focused on mix-method research, and measurement and evaluation. 

Marzie has joined our team to design and lead an in-depth stakeholder engagement with affordable housing providers, supporters and activators, as part of Tapestry’s participation in the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge. Marzie brings a personal lens to this work. “Being an immigrant to Canada, and coming from a low-income background, I understand the anxiety of finding affordable housing. Affordable housing is one of, if not the greatest, challenges faced by our country today,” she shares. 

 

Suzanne Faiza, Researcher

Suzanne is currently pursuing her Masters in Planning at the University of Toronto, with a concentration in Housing and Community Economic Development. The focus of her research is to assess the feasibility of crowdfunding platforms to facilitate land acquisition groups such as community land trusts. Suzanne is joining our team in a part-time capacity while she completes her studies and is working with Marzie and support our progress in the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge.

Suzanne is trained as an architect, and worked in the field for 6 years before beginning her Masters program. She brings a new element of creativity to our team, with excellent graphic design skills and a love of finding ways to display complex information in easily digestible formats. She is an active volunteer in her community, working closely with the Muslim Food Bank & Community Services, COVID-19 Coming Together Vancouver, and the B.C. Community Alliance, and is passionate about finding innovative solutions to Canada’s affordable housing crisis. 

 

Baljmaa Zorig, Climate Finance Specialist

Baljmaa’s interest in climate change mitigation began early in her career while she was working as an internal auditor at a commercial bank in Mongolia. Her role took her to remote regions of the country where she could see the impacts that climate change was having on local people and businesses, from drought to extreme heat waves. 

With a strong desire to build a more technical skillset, she pursued her Masters in Quantitative Finance at Bentley University as a Fulbright Scholar. During her graduate studies she helped to establish and manage an ESG strategy for the university’s endowment fund, gaining valuable experience in capital markets. She then went on to work with a boutique ESG investment firm in Boston, and later with two international development financing organizations.

Baljmaa joins the Tapestry team to support a new project we are undertaking with a municipality in Eastern Canada to design and implement an investment system to finance their community energy ambitions. Baljmaa loves big data, financial modeling and finding creative financing solutions. “We don’t need fancy solutions, we need practical solutions,” she shares. “As an ESG professional, creating a circular economy is the goal. I think community bonds offer a double win of raising impact capital while also sending profits back into the community.” 

It’s tax season and we’re here to help

By Education, News

It’s that time of year again. That’s right – it’s tax season. 

For issuers of community bonds, this means it’s time to report the investment earnings of their investors to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Québec, and to provide investors with the necessary paperwork to file their income taxes. 

For issuers working with Tapestry, this process is a simple and straightforward one. Our clients need only email their investors to inform them that the tax slips are en route, and we take care of the rest! 

At Tapestry, our investment management software, Atticus, is the real hero of the season. Not only does Atticus securely store investor data and calculate interest disbursements, but it also generates reports that hold the information required for T5 and RL-3 tax slips. 

Tapestry generates these slips and ensures they are sent to investors before the required deadline. 

“Data management tools like spreadsheets are prone to human error,” explains our Impact Investment Manager, Theodora Mladenova. “Not to mention, it isn’t a safe way to store investor’s sensitive information. It is possible for issuers to manage this work on their own, but we save them a whole lot of hassle and reduce these risks.” 

Satyameet SinghBeyond tools such as Atticus, which streamline this process for tax reporting, Tapestry also builds on 20 years of experience in the field. “Ultimately, this knowledge saves our clients time and money, so that they can focus on what they are good at – growing their positive impact within their communities.”  

Our seasoned Campaign Manager, Satyameet Singh, also reminds us that this is an opportune time of year for issuers of community bonds to have a touch point with their investors. “Taxes may be a bit boring but your project certainly isn’t! This is a great time to provide an update to investors on your project and show them how their funds are being put to use,” he explains. “Investors really appreciate this communication, and it helps to build a deep and trusting relationship. We always recommend that our clients take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with their investors.”

New choices, new values and impact investing

By News

Last week, our Co-Executive Director, Ryan Collins-Swartz, had the pleasure of joining Tim Nash on the Toronto Star podcast Responsible Investing for a Sustainable Economy

Host Tim Nash is the founder of Good Investing and has been a leader in responsible investing and the green economy for more than a decade. 

In this episode, the topic of discussion is impact investing – a strategy that seeks to generate financial returns while also creating a positive social or environmental impact.

 

Are you interested in investing with impact or raising investment from your community for an impactful project? Delve into the the recording and transcript of Ryan and Tim’s conversation on the world of Community Bonds.

 

Tim: Today I am with Ryan-Collins Swartz, Co-Executive Director of Tapestry Community Capital. Ryan, thanks so much for joining me.

Ryan: Great to be here Tim.

Tim: Now, you’ve been in the impact investment space for a little while now, how did you first get involved in this ecosystem?

Ryan: It’s been a long road Tim. I would say, looking back to when I was in school, my first real job was working at a residential real estate investment trust. At that point, I was amazed by how big capital could be put to use – in this case, for apartment buildings. 

Then I discovered social enterprise while at Ivey Business school. I learnt that non-profits can create side activities that are revenue generating, that can allow them to operate more sustainably. Afterwards, I became involved in different non-profits – I did a research project with the Toronto Public Library, a fellowship at the Mars discovery district here in Toronto, and worked with several social service agencies. 

I started to see two clear perspectives. First, going back to that real estate investment trust, I saw how capital is mobilized and how investments are made, but I also saw the reality for a lot of organizations searching for funding. And there are a lot of barriers there – especially for non-profits, charities and different social enterprises. 

I became introduced to the community bond model because I was a member of the Centre for Social Innovation. Then I was reached out to by the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC), who had for the past 20 years been raising impact investment for local renewable energy projects. Their first example, that a lot of people know of, is the wind turbine down at exhibition place, which is half owned by Toronto Hydro and half owned by 500 community investors. 

What I learnt was that a lot of organizations were starting to duplicate this model. The Centre for Social Innovation was one, and several other co-working spaces did it, but there wasn’t a lot of support or an easy solution for other organizations that wanted to raise this type of impact investment. So, I joined TREC and about 6 months later we launched Tapestry Community Capital, as an organization that provides end-to-end support to both raise and manage impact investments.

Tim: I love it. So basically, your job is doing these social finance campaigns. Finding non-profits that want to raise money, who probably have an asset they need that money for, and then raising a successful campaign so that they can buy that asset. As part of your job, you often meet with non-profits who are thinking about raising capital. How do they initially feel about doing this?

Ryan: I think the first emotion for a lot of them is excitement. They might come with a lot of frustration about the existing ways that they can raise funding for their organization. So for example, donation campaigns can be difficult, donors can be tapped out depending on the community, they are also a more old-fashioned way of raising a lot of money from a small group of wealthy individuals. Secondly, they could have had difficulty working with financial institutions and banks. And then, they might also be very grant dependent. 

Grants are difficult – although you don’t have to pay them back, you also don’t have a lot of choice once you receive them or if you receive them. There can be a lot of limitations on what you can spend the funds on. So a lot of organizations get really excited about raising funds in this new way, because with community bonds they get to set the terms (i.e. decide the rate of return, maturity, etc.).

Tim: I often joke that for a lot of non-profits, debt is a four-letter word that they are just not used to dealing with. What do you think really needs to click with them psychologically before they are really ready to move forward?

Ryan: I think really understanding how this all works, learning from the stories of other organizations who have done this before, and feeling confident that Tapestry is here to support them every step of the way. There is definitely excitement as the first emotion, but then they may also feel apprehension – the, “oh my god, are we really going to do this?”

For some organizations that have a longer track record with fundraising, they might be concerned that if they are offering people the opportunity to invest (i.e. make a return and also get their money back), why would someone make a donation? So I think there is also a realization that, no, this isn’t cannibalizing your donor base. This is a chance to engage a whole new community of people who might not be making large donations into capital campaigns, but like me, have a small pool of money they want to put to work locally to make an impact. 

Tim: You talk about investors that do want to earn a financial return, but they also want to feel good about their investment. So tell me, what role does story-telling play in an impact investment campaign? 

Ryan: Storytelling is vital. When we think of an impact investment, it’s really about understanding what the impact of this project is and who it is impacting, down to an individual level or environmental level, and getting that message out. This is where a community bond investment varies from the rest of the investments in your portfolio. This is likely the only investment where you can actually see, feel, touch, visit, and know where your money has gone. So yes, it’s vital. 

But I would say Tim, it’s not on its own what’s going to close the deal. So maybe that’s where impact investing and traditional fundraising shares a lot in common in the value of storytelling. But the separation is that the story will get someone in the door, but then they need to understand the business model, the repayment strategy, and have confidence in the team that this is a fair and wise investment.

Tim: Yes, I think confidence plays a huge role. This is a bit of a new thing to both non-profits, who might be raising capital for the first time, but also for the investors that are often making these types of impact investment for the first time. Having that transparency and being on the same page is key. Understanding that risk return, just like we do for any other investment, and really having that information allows us to make confident investments – both from a financial standpoint but also from that impact standpoint. People do want to make sure that their investments are having an impact. Do you agree with that?

Ryan: The first, and exciting thing, is that this is new for everyone. Anytime I meet with an organization thinking about issuing an impact investment, it’s the first time that their staff and their Board is learning about it. And likewise, when they go out to their community of investors, it’s the first time that that community is learning about investing in community bonds. It’s still very nascent and new. I was reflecting back to a few years ago when we could all be in person at the Social Finance Forum at Mars, when you were moderating a session on impact investing and you asked the panellists and the crowd “how many of you have made an impact investment, raise your hand?”. Do you remember what the response was like?

Tim: It wasn’t a huge number of people in the room.

Ryan: So even in the “in group” of people who know about impact investing, they aren’t that personally involved with making these types of investments. That’s changed a lot over the past few years due to the availability of more products, but I’m excited to see the space of impact investing grow from everyone involved to friends and families, to colleagues and institutions, and outwards from there. 

Tim: I think it’s cool that when I deal with clients, it’s often the first time they make an impact investment. That first time is often the toughest decision they make, and then after they do it, the experiential learning kicks in, such that once they’ve made one investment they tend to be a lot more open and receptive to other impact investments on the market. 

Are there any impact investments of organizations that you are working with now that you can share with us? 

Ryan: One that I’m really excited about is Earth Day Canada (Jour de la Terre) based in Quebec. They are developing Canada’s first non-profit, community owned, electric vehicle charging network. This project, called EcoCharge, is starting with 100 charging stations across Quebec and New Brunswick and is going to be scaling across Canada. Anyone across Canada is able to invest as little as $1000 and make 3.5% a year on a 5-year bond. That’s one that I’m really excited about. (To learn more about the EcoCharge investment opportunity, visit the Earth Day Canada website here)

Tim: Same. I don’t own an electric vehicle but when I talk to people that do, they often worry about this idea of range anxiety, and not being able to take a road trip. So, I love this idea of being able to finance charging stations. I think it’s along the trans-Canada highway and they’ve partnered with grocery stores, such that when you are along the highway, you don’t really have to worry about it – there will be somewhere to charge your car. You can go in, have a little bite and take a break on the roadtrip that you’d want to take anyway.

This is a great opportunity where investors can put up some of that upfront capital, earn an interest rate on that community green bond and hopefully have that network of charging stations across the country. 

Thanks for joining us Ryan! 

For those that are interested in learning more about impact investing, check out Tim’s Good Investing online Course here.

Calling all affordable housing providers!

By News

There is a critical need for flexible sources of financing that can be designed to meet the budgets and timelines of affordable housing providers. At the same time, there is a need for greater, and more meaningful participation of communities in affordable housing projects. 

Tapestry Community Capital is leading the development of a social finance program, specifically designed to meet these complex needs of affordable housing providers. 

Tapestry has been shortlisted by the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge program to work on this idea. We are recruiting non-profit and co-operative housing providers from across Canada that are interested in the use of community bonds to help inform the design of the program. 

We are offering:

  • Coaching to your team and Board to understand how community bonds could be used by your organization 
  • An assessment of your project financing and viability to utilize community bonds to unlock private capital within your community 
  • Preferential participation in the implemented program, which may involve financial support to launch a community bond campaign 

To find more details, click here

If you are interested in this idea or want to know more, please contact info@tapestrycapital.ca.

About Tapestry Community Capital

Tapestry is a non-profit organization that supports social purpose organizations across Canada to raise impact investments using a social finance tool, called a Community Bond.

We have developed a straightforward process that allows organizations to efficiently use community bonds to achieve their funding goals within 8-12 months. We help them to structure their investment offering, take their product to the community to raise investment, and professionally manage their investors.

In the past 8 years, we have supported in raising over $90 million in community investment from more than 4,000+ investors. This capital has been deployed by our non-profit and co-op clients to develop a range of essential community assets, including those in renewable energy, arts & culture, and education. 

We hope to connect with you!

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