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London to receive a share of $4M Government of Ontario investment

MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2015 

At a meeting of the Economic Club of Canada, the Government of Ontario announced a $4 million investment in 11 projects designed to stimulate our economy by helping social enterprises launch and grow. In the London region, an investment of $375,000 will be used to launch the VERGE Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund – a loan fund which connects local caring investors with local social enterprises that have a social or environmental mission at their core.

Lina Bowden, a social investor with a long history in the financial services sector is excited by the recent news. “Social enterprise is a growing concept that provides another way to tackle community needs with significant potential for impact,” she explains. “Social entrepreneurs often identify their inability to access financing as a barrier for growing their business. VERGE will match socially conscious investors with social enterprises in need of financing in the early growth phases of their business.”

The fund, set to launch in spring 2015, was born out of a community collaboration of partners and investors including Libro Credit Union, London Community Foundation, Pillar Nonprofit Network, Sisters of St. Joseph, and United Way London & Middlesex. By working together on a local solution, the collaborative was able to successfully leverage this significant investment by the province. A combined committed investment of $885,000 includes grants and in-kind contributions by the partners, a gift by the Ursuline Sisters of Chatham and private investor commitments for loans to social enterprises. Once launched, VERGE will provide loans to both nonprofits and social enterprises - businesses that are involved in the production or selling of goods and services for the blended purpose of generating income and achieving social, cultural, or environmental goals.

Bowden points to Textbooks for Change, London’s first company to earn a B Corporation designation, as an example of the power of social investing. “After a successful pitch session, Textbooks for Change have found investors that have helped them scale their operation from the local London market to a national social enterprise that is creating lasting impact in local and international communities.”

Quick Facts
• Social enterprises are ventures that use business strategies to drive social, environmental and economic change
• The Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund is one of the key commitments in Ontario’s Social Enterprise Strategy Ontario has about 10,000 social enterprises that employ an estimated 160,000 people
• Over the next decade, the global social finance market is expected to generate up to $1 trillion in new impact investment capital
• It is estimated that 68% of social enterprises in Ontario have a poverty reduction focus

About Pillar
Pillar Nonprofit Network supports more than 340 nonprofit member organizations in fulfilling their missions in our community, while also making connections for community impact. Pillar provides leadership, advocacy and professional development, and promotes volunteerism, networking opportunities and information sharing. Pillar also believes fostering social enterprise, social innovation and cross-sector collaboration are key strategic priorities in building stronger and more inclusive communities. For more information, please visit: www.pillarnonprofit.ca

Media Contact:
Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director
Pillar Nonprofit Network
Tel: 519-433-7876 Cell: 519-668-4456
mbaldwin@pillarnonprofit.ca @PillarNN

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