Community Investment Co-ops: A Growing Co-operative Sector in BC

November 8, 2018

British Columbia Community Investment Co-opsThe demand and necessity to invest for impact, globally and locally, is on the rise. However, current investment options and regulations in BC & Canada significantly restrict Canadians from investing into local opportunities. The result is that nearly all investment capital leaves local communities and is placed into far-off stock markets and corporations.

An unintended consequence is that while our investments create significant jobs and wealth elsewhere, the places we live, work and play are overlooked and under-financed. At the same time, rural business development studies and economic development organizations have identified that ‘access to capital’ is a top barrier to business (including co-ops) start-ups, expansions and successions.

Community Investment Co-ops (CICs) are a new and innovative support system for rural and urban economic and business development that effectively bridge the gap between local investors and local ventures in need of financing. CICs are a cost effective, community owned and controlled impact fund. They enable residents to become partners in locally driven economic development, which leads to stronger and more sustainable economies.


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<p>Community Investment Co-ops across Canada have successfully financed ventures that generate significant local impacts including: affordable housing; renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and food production; locally-owned small business development; technology; and community economic development projects.</p>
<p>In the past few years, eight new Community Investment Co-ops have established in British Columbia. This growth can be attributed to the sixth global Co-operative principle: cooperation amongst co-operatives. With help from the BC Co-operative Association, The British Columbia Community Impact Investment Coalition (BC CIIC) has brought together Community Investment Co-ops and other local lending organizations from across BC to build a movement for local ethical investing that benefits rural and urban local communities. The mission of the BC CIIC is to be a learning community for Community Impact Investment practitioners to advocate and develop enabling Community Impact Investment programs with the Provincial Government and other BC organizations.</p>
<p><strong>Four of the eight Community Investment Co-ops are launching local impact funds in November and December.</strong></p>
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