How do we respond to COVID-19? Stories from SVX Issuers (Part 4)

Over the past month, SVX has shared several Medium posts to provide insights to drive a collective response to the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. We have outlined gaps in the current response, explored the role of impact investing and social enterprise, and identified a list of three key actions that can be taken in the short and medium term to best support our communities.

As we continue to work with partners on a collective response, it is encouraging to see that several initiatives are already underway within the community sector and impact investing ecosystem aimed at addressing the needs of the most vulnerable. SVX is proud to be working with a few of those sector leading organizations.

But how are individual impact ventures, funds and organizations managing through this complex and challenging time?

Below you will find a roundup of SVX issuers and their respective responses, including their plans for continued commitment to their social and environmental impact mandates. Their top priorities include prioritizing the health and safety of their staff; increasing support to portfolio companies, if any, to weather COVID-19 related disruptions; and reorienting efforts where needed to continue making their respective impact. It isn’t easy at the best of times to manage an impact fund, run a mission-focused business, or lead a nonprofit organization. Today, it is just plain hard to make the most basic things happen. But these organizations are committed to finding a path through this crisis. We wanted to share their unfiltered stories.

Deetken Impact invests in emerging economies to generate long term returns while making a positive social and environmental impact in communities.

Response: Our first priority is the safety of our staff. We are grateful that all staff are healthy and working from home safely in Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru, Jamaica, and Canada. We are conducting conversations with our portfolio companies to learn about the measures they are taking both to protect their staff and to ensure the continuity of their business, and to learn how they anticipate this will affect their business operations.

In the financial inclusion space, we are starting to see reduced disbursement of loans by the institutions in which we have invested. This is related to social distancing, as people around the world avoid meeting in groups or visiting branches. So far, institutions continue to collect and renew loans as normal and currently expect any impact on their portfolios to be temporary in nature. For our sustainable energy investments, we anticipate that operating projects will continue to produce clean electricity without major disruptions.

As impact investors, we believe in the importance of not further destabilizing organizations facing operational challenges. Currently, all companies in our portfolios have carried on with their operations and intend to make all scheduled payments, and we remain in close communication with portfolio company management, who are prioritizing crisis management and the protection of their staff and clients.

InvestEco is a private equity management firm and certified B-Corp founded in 1999 that specializes in investments in the sustainable food sector. We aim to partner with innovative companies that are building a healthier planet.

Response: The team is working remotely from home in line with our Business Continuity Policy. With respect to our portfolio companies, they are all in the food sector and are therefore continuing operations at the moment. Many areas of the food sector (such as packaged food and deliveries) have experienced sharply increased demand over the past few weeks. Time will tell how long this increased demand lasts, but so long as consumers eat at home and prefer not to go shopping, we expect elevated demand for these company’s products. It will be important for these companies to manage their supply chains to ensure they are able to satisfy demand in case of COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions.

On the other hand, those companies that are heavily reliant on food service are likely to experience significant challenges over the coming months. We will therefore be working with all our portfolio companies to help ensure they have ample liquidity to weather a prolonged downturn, and to institute best practices to reduce the risk to their workers, including such measures as deploying non-overlapping shifts. We are confident the leaders of our portfolio companies are acting responsibly to ensure the health of their workers and safely manage COVID-19 cases as they arise.

InvestEco’s Sustainable Food Fund III’s next close is meant to occur in April 2020, or soon thereafter, thanks to the long-term outlook of the institutional investors taking part.

Marigold Capital backs overlooked, undervalued, underrepresented and marginalized entrepreneurs, customers and markets toward equity, inclusivity & prosperity.

Response: The Marigold team is healthy as we work remotely. So too are our families. We are thankful, and acknowledge the privilege we have to have shelter in position strategies at work. Our portfolio companies’ families are also all doing well. Additionally, their businesses have all picked up due to their involvement in accessibility issues around supply chain logistics and transparency, as well as locally engaged journalism.

As central to our investment thesis, we expect demand to continue, as much attention is being applied to supply chain management and mitigation issues in light of concerns around globalization receding to regional or even national levels. This plays into our themes of social justice and equity, (mental and sexual and reproductive) health and rights, and safety — in particular for marginalized communities who are exponentially at risk right now vis-a-vis other populations. A major re-skilling of workers for digital economies has also been a long time coming.

We will undoubtedly see new opportunities and challenges arise within our portfolio companies and our thesis. Social inequities are being exacerbated by COVID-19, (early stage) private market investments are drying up, roles of communities, states, and individuals will evolve, and supply chain analysis and its effects on migration, production and globalization and nationalism will impact policies. While we cannot predict anything, we know there is plenty to invest in to help solve some of the issues highlighted here. Disasters of the past have taught us that in moments of despair, people’s understanding of what’s possible shifts. We must not lose sight of this — a simultaneous collective vision and beacon of hope.

Rhiza Capital (Rhiza) invests in direct response to the challenge of financing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We build Positive Impact financial portfolios, programs, and partnerships that localize the SDGs and connect community to opportunity.

Response: The companies in our CVR3 portfolio are mobilizing to not only persevere through this global challenge, but to support the impact ecosystem and continue advancing social/economic justice, and environmental sustainability. Ethelo is working with local governments to rapidly assess public needs and increase participation in decision making in the time of social distancing. Keela is supporting hundreds of charities and nonprofits that are providing urgent services, while also needing urgent support themselves. New/Mode is enabling digital organizing campaigns for urgent issues like healthcare and economic relief. No business is immune to the present global economic circumstances, and we are working hard to support and advocate for the companies we are invested in together.

We are proud of the dedicated group of investors that has joined CVR3 to date, and we remain in active due diligence with institutional investors, many of whom remain or are more motivated to increase their impact portfolio.
Investing as a force for good is more important now than ever. The world is quickly learning through the COVID-19 experience just how interconnected we are — how health, community, strong institutions, and environmental stewardship are critical to economic growth. We’re in this together.

The YMCAs of Québec is a registered charity whose vision is to inspire and mobilize each person to achieve their full potential, to thrive, and to contribute to their community. The Alternative Suspension Program supports secondary-level students who have been temporarily dismissed from the school setting through a 3–5 day offsite program.

Response: As our communities reorganize to confront the challenges presented by COVID-19, so too does Alternative Suspension. As students stay home, our youth workers have reoriented their work to remotely addressing the most acute impacts of the recent social distancing measures, increased social isolation, lack of access to key resources as well as academic backsliding. Our youth workers continue to engage with students through online workshops, discussion groups and individual check-ins. They have expanded their outreach to parents, ensuring that they know what resources they have access to, while maintaining relationships with school personnel to facilitate information flows to youth and families.

Ultimately, our teams continue to support youth through this difficult period, while strengthening the social infrastructure for a successful school reintegration.

TAS is a community-focused, mixed-use developer that is deeply committed to building resilient urban villages founded on sustainable connections to food, family, and future.

Response: Over the past weeks, TAS has proactively implemented a Business Continuity Plan that prioritizes the health and welfare of our people, clients, suppliers, and communities. This plan allows us to operate effectively as we adapt to COVID-19 consequences with minimal disruptions to our normal business.

In regards to our TAS LP 3 offering, we look to target opportunities to acquire assets at value with a lens on the long-term horizon of the fund. We still believe the thesis around Toronto is reinforced by these events; namely geopolitical stability, tech growth story, and conservative culture and fiscal position. The local impacts from COVID-19 further support TAS’ impact agenda including our focus on community resiliency through initiatives such as commercial and housing affordability targets.

Disclaimer: This Medium post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investment advice, or an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. SVX is registered as an Exempt Market Dealer (EMD) under applicable securities legislation in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan; however, no securities regulatory authority has approved or expressed an opinion about the securities offered on this platform. Investing in the exempt market has significant risk. You should be aware of these risks, and as appropriate, consult with appropriate financial professionals to support your decision-making processes.

SVX is financial services firm & impact investing platform connecting ventures, funds, and investors to catalyze investment capital for impact. #ImpInv #SocEnt