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Blair Miller, TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good

Blair Miller

Managing Partner, TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good

Leah Nguyen, TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good

Leah Nguyen

Investment Director, TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good

Paul Lacerte, Raven Capital

Paul Lacerte

Managing Partner, Raven Capital

As the deadline for the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development approaches and challenges like poverty and climate change grow in urgency, corporations have an important role to play in supporting real change.
The current business model of profits above all else is no longer sustainable. World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwap describes corporations as social organisms that can bring the world closer to achieving shared goals. By investing in solutions to today’s problems, corporations can lead the creation of a new model where positive social impact and prosperity aren’t mutually exclusive.

The rise of impact investing

Impact investing — the idea of investing in companies or funds with a strong social mission — has picked up traction among global corporations in recent years. One McKinsey study analyzing 48 social impact exits in India found the top one-third achieved a 34 percent median internal rate of return.

“There’s far greater demand today from investors to find products that are aligned with their social values,” says Leah Nguyen, Investment Director of the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good, a $100-million fund investing in companies focused on driving a positive social impact.

Impact investing, guided by positive social principles, can directly fund the potential solutions to ongoing social issues.

“Solving for the root cause of these critical societal issues requires innovation and disruption, and impact investing is the fuel that drives it,” adds Nguyen.

Breaking ground in a new industry

Because impact investing is nascent, corporations pursuing the model are leaders in a new way of building business.

Private companies across any industry should look inward to core values and leverage them to guide investment decisions, and in turn, profit. The TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good focuses its investments in healthcare, economic inclusion, agriculture, and cleantech — each ladder up to core areas of the business and are deeply entrenched in the company’s social purpose values.

Blair Miller, Managing Partner of the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good, says these verticals are a “natural extension” of the corporation. TELUS is the largest digital health company in Canada and also recently launched its agriculture business, quickly becoming a global leader in this space.

“We see a vast pool of opportunity arising from the need to drive social change and solve global problems through technology. The market is a critical mechanism to drive that change,” says Miller.

As impact grows, so do businesses

For companies with a social mission at their core, it is possible for revenues to grow alongside the impact they create in people’s lives with the proper capital, changing how for-profit companies tackle complex issues.

Raven Capital is an Ottawa- and British Columbia-based fund that invests in Indigenous entrepreneurs. Raven was founded to remove funding barriers and support economic reconciliation. As the first Indigenous-owned and -led fund in Canada, they can start from a place of trust with entrepreneurs in a way that others can’t.

“We’re experiencing a pivot towards Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the investment world, which isn’t just good for Indigenous peoples, but it’s also good for all Canadians,” says Paul Lacerte, Managing Partner of Raven.

With a large network, capital and resources, corporations can invest in companies like Raven — a TELUS Pollinator Fund investee — to take social impact even further.

“We’ve clearly seen that business can be a force for good, and we think it’s an imperative and obligation now,” says Miller.

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