By Kenzie Love
Local Investing YYC, an associate member of CWCF through its participation in Common Good Capital, was incorporated in the fall of 2017. Its founders were looking for ways that all types of investors could invest into the local economy in businesses having a positive environmental or social impact. Travis Inlow, the Co-op’s treasurer, notes that it’s commonly thought that only wealthy, well-connected investors can participate in such projects, and the founders wanted to change this.
“The mission from the beginning was to find ways to provide an accessible channel for all different types of investors,” he says, “and one structure that they became aware of was investment co-operatives.”
Inspired by the way investment co-ops elsewhere in Canada had supported local community projects and brought together like-minded investors, the founders wanted to do something similar for Calgary, and ultimately made the Co-op’s first investments early in 2019. The democratic nature of investment co-ops was a key factor behind Local Investing YYC incorporating as one.
“As a co-op, everybody has the same voting share, regardless of how much you invest,” says Inlow. “However much you invest, you’re still on the same page, and have an equal voice.”
Although it remains a relatively small-scale investor, Inlow believes Local Investing YYC has still had a notable impact on the community, investing over $1 million dollars in eight local businesses, which has helped them generate new business opportunities and increased their impact. He’s also appreciated the opportunity to work with a committed board and with members whose interest in the Co-op extends beyond the financial return.
“Connecting with the board, as well as our members, who are investing their capital but also bringing their passion for supporting the local community has been really rewarding,” he says.
The Co-op has also faced some challenges, Inlow acknowledges, among them the sometimes difficult balance between being accessible to potential investors while also raising larger amounts of capital to grow the investment portfolio and overall impact.
“Ultimately you need a really large volume of individuals to join while also attracting institutional investors to really grow to a point where you can be a more self-sufficient entity,” he says.
But investment co-ops, Inlow also notes, needn’t be entirely self-sufficient. Local Investing YYC’s experience, he believes, offers lessons for others in the field.
“I do think there are opportunities where we can leverage our collective experience of doing this and working with others to make it more accessible,” he says.
Local Investing YYC is committed to ensuring opportunities remain for investors who share its values, and you can contact the Co-op at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more about how to join.