June 8, 2021
Indigenous entrepreneurs are benefiting following the Final Close of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners’ (Raven) Impact Investment Fund with $25 million in capital commitments from 38 investors drawn from across Canada and the United States. The Fund closed on January 31, 2021.
The Raven Indigenous Impact Capital Fund I was launched in response to the resource gap faced by many Indigenous entrepreneurs. Despite Indigenous entrepreneurs’ strong ideas and product offerings, systemic racism and colonization have blocked their access to the capital and crucial capacity-building opportunities that spur growth in non-Indigenous enterprises.
“We partner with Indigenous entrepreneurs to increase their chance of success, and by doing that, we are collectively injecting adrenaline into the Indigenous economy in Canada,” says Paul Lacerte, Managing Partner of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners. “Investors are not only recognizing their responsibility to invest in Indigenous businesses, they want to be part of this decolonization journey through finance. Reconciliation in this economic context is being seen as a must-have, not a nice-to-have.”
“At Raven, we are actively transforming the relationship many of us have with money. Instead of symbolizing power, we want the role of money to be similar to love or medicine,” said Jeffrey Cyr, Managing Partner of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners. “When we treat money differently, it sets us on a path of healing and provides an opportunity to tap the emerging Indigenous entrepreneurial market. We are grateful to our partners and investors for seeing the potential and believing in our Indigenous ways of knowing and doing.”
The Raven Indigenous Impact Fund provides equity and equity-like capital to innovative, scalable, purpose-driven Indigenous enterprises. The Fund looks to support entrepreneurs who are at the seed and/or early stage. Through the Raven Fund, innovative Indigenous enterprises can access the support they need to grow from a trusted partner. The Fund represents a sustainable, values-driven approach to poverty reduction and community resilience that will directly contribute to the development of an Indigenous middle class. Enterprises are screened through a unique, Indigenous impact lens and receive investments ranging from $250,000 to $2 million.
“When Virtual Gurus officially closed with Raven, it really hit home. Someone from a similar background as me, someone who heard me, someone who listened to me and understood me - they invested in me and they're my people,” said Bobbie Racette, the founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus. “With Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, they're building a community in the process of making investments. You feel lifted afterwards and know that you are a part of something - giving support to a people who've traditionally been left behind.”
For investors, Raven combines a strong social and environmental impact thesis and generates competitive returns. The fund targets a net annualized rate of return of 6-8% over a ten-year fund life.
“At TELUS, we believe that companies operating in Canada have a responsibility to support Reconciliation. Through our investment in Raven Capital’s inaugural Indigenous Impact Fund, we will ensure greater opportunities for Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs, whilst helping to bridge the socio-economic digital divide experienced by Indigenous peoples and communities,” said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO, TELUS. “The TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good fund was designed to connect purpose-driven companies, like Raven Capital, to the resources required to drive meaningful social and economic change. Together, the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good and Raven Capital will help to address some of the most pressing issues facing Indigenous communities across Canada.”
The Raven Fund reflects a growing recognition of Indigenous entrepreneurs as innovators and knowledge keepers leading an economic transformation that will lift up Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island. The overwhelmingly positive response to the Fund from the investment community will bolster Raven’s efforts to build a portfolio of dynamic technology-driven and enabled Indigenous enterprises, as well as plot initial steps toward raising a successor fund in the near future.