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New platform connects investors with social and environmental ventures

With the emergence of social enterprise, and the increasing visibility of many social, and especially environmental, issues, many more investors are becoming interested in using private capital to not only generate revenue, but also tackle some of our greatest problems. Helping to match investors with the enterprises that might achieve these goals: Social Venture Connection (SVX), an online platform that's just been launched by MaRS with the help of the Province and several private partners.

Billed by the Ontario government as the first such system in North America, SVX is a registered dealer with the Ontario Securities Commission. At launch, 12 ventures (including both non-profit and for-profit enterprises) were registered, ranging from an organic farm supply company to ZooShare, which is piloting a biogas plant at the Toronto Zoo. Their goal is to attract what are dubbed "impact investors," ones who have "a focus on achieving positive social and/or environmental outcomes and modest to market-rate financial returns," according to SVX's website. 

It's the first step towards a larger goal of creating a full-fledged regulated market, one that functions much like any mainstream exchange but with an explicit focus on social impacts.

Because SVX vets the enterprises that apply to be listed, and also provides some support services to the ones that make the cut, the idea—or at least the hope—is that those enterprises that do get selected will have an easier time attracting investors. SVX is also actively working to identity potential investors, ones who are known to have an interest in the social implications of the ventures they support.

To be eligible for consideration, ventures must have been incorporated in Ontario for at least two years, and have revenues between $50,000 and $25 million a year.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
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