The Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund Launches With Pitch Competition

The Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund (YSI-CF) launched yesterday, May 23rd, at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto with an inspiring keynote speech and the final round of a social enterprise pitch competition that provided the winner with a micro-loan.

YSI-CF is a newly established non-profit organization focused on bridging the financial and business advisory services gap for young social entrepreneurs that inhibits many high-potential youth innovators from implementing their ventures. YSI-CF provides debt and equity financing, non-financial support and social metrics services to clients. The fund was founded on the principle that investment should be driven by more than just profits.

“Exclusively maximizing business profits, instead of considering a triple bottom line approach of financial, social and environmental impact, leads to poor decision-making and value creation,” said Saumya Krishna, YSI-CF Managing Director, in her opening remarks.

The fund’s official launch saw leaders in the social finance, not-for-profit and entrepreneurial world come together to celebrate this exciting new youth-focused initiative. The event was kicked off by a keynote speech from Adil Dhalla, an experienced young social entrepreneur; he co-founded My City Lives in 2009, an application which provides a narrative to Google Streetview through geo tagging and user-generated content.

Facing many challenges as a social entrepreneur himself, Adil offered some significant advice to the young entrepreneurs at YSI-CF’s launch: “It’s only when you’re able to look back and connect the dots that it all makes sense – pioneers often have the most challenging paths.”

Arguably, the highlight of YSI-CF’s launch event was the final round of a pitch completion which saw a young social entrepreneur receiving a micro-loan to unleash their business idea, through the Social Finance Chain program. The judging panel consisted of Julie McDowell, Founder of TARIS; Rebecca Dew, Chief Financial Officer at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, and Ana Skinner, head of Youth Organizing at the Laidlaw Foundation.

The first finalist, whose ideas were presented using a short video, was Illana Ben-Ari, the founder of Twenty One Toys, a socially-motivated toy company. Twenty One Toys was created to help children build the critical creative, collaborative, learning, innovation and problem solving skills necessary for life in the 21st century through carefully designed toys. Using her designs as tools for social change, Ilana is leading the way for learners of all ages to thrive in an ever-changing and complex world.

Susie Pan and Stephanie Chan from Science Expo were the second finalists of the YSI-CF pitch competition. Science Expo is a student-run non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the many personal and professional opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics available to high school students. The organization intends to do so through a flagship annual conference, mentorship programs and student/teacher outreach initiatives. Not surprisingly, Susie and Stephanie are both Queens University students with a passion for science.

After a series of questions by the panel and a break for deliberation, it was decided that the Twenty One Toys would be the recipient of YSI-CF’s micro-loan. The selection was based on a mix of factors, taking into account character, business model and repayment capacity. It was ultimately decided that Twenty One Toys’ business plan could best benefit in the immediate future from the funding.

However, both finalists will be provided with mentors through YSI-CF, and the judges offered their support as well.

The pitch competition was a unique and exciting way to kick off a dynamic new social finance initiative; YSI-CF’s launch event only confirmed that there is no limit to socially-driven business ideas in Canada’s marketplace. As a result, initiatives like the YSI-CF are critical to unleashing the next generation of innovations, which may drive our society in coming years.

If you are interested in learning more about the Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund – or are keen to get involved as an investor, mentor or client – visit youthsocialinnovation.org.

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