Sunshine Coast investment fund receives $2 million from Telus

A local investment firm is one of the first three companies to receive support from a $100-million corporate impact fund recently launched by telecommunications giant, Telus.

Rhiza Capital, an “impact investment group of companies” co-founded by Community Futures Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Credit Union and Powell River Community Investment Corporation, will receive $2 million from Telus’s Pollinator Fund, which it launched Nov. 24.

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The Pollinator Fund will invest in early-stage companies focused on health care, sustainable food production, improving the environment and on social and economic inclusion, according to the Nov. 24 release. Companies don’t have to be Canadian.

Rhiza was described as one of three “cornerstone partnerships,” alongside Windmill Microlending, a registered Canadian charity that offers small loans to skilled migrants and refugees, and U.S.-based company Tidal Vision, which produces a biopolymer out of crab, shrimp and other crustacean shells.

Rhiza will use its money for a fund that invests in eligible business corporations (EBC) – a B.C. designation that offers investors a tax credit – and businesses that “deliver impact aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” according to its website.

This is Rhiza Capital’s third impact venture fund and at slightly more than $3 million, is the largest. “Our goal is to reach just over $10 million by the end of the year,” Rhiza Capital CEO Brian Smith told Coast Reporter.

No decisions have been made about how the capital will be invested yet, as the company is not yet receiving applications.

Rhiza was chosen following a six-stage “gating process,” said Smith, who also acknowledged “we were fortunate to have a relationship with the team at Telus even before the fund was launched,” and supported the telecommunications giant in its shift to impact funding.

Blair Miller, a managing partner with the Telus fund, told Coast Reporter a “key reason” they tapped the Sunshine Coast company was its focus on B.C. companies that “enable inclusive communities” and on economic development in smaller regional communities, which he said are “underserved by traditional capital.”

“From a Telus perspective, we believe that we have an accountability to invest in and support new responsible businesses to ensure their success and impact. And we believe that the Pollinator investment in Rhiza Capital will help us forward that,” Miller said.


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