SF Showcases: Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund (YSI) Part 2

SF Showcases: Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund (YSI) Part 2

YSI Announces Investments in MENTORnetwork & Growth Mosaic

2014 is in full swing and with it comes the opportunity to tell more stories about the great work happening in Canadian social finance! In two pieces over the past two days we’ve been talking to  Jory Cohen, Managing Director of Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund (YSI). Today, we’ll be finding out about YSI’s most recent investments and the evaluation process that goes into choosing to invest in a venture. As always, we want your input on this and future profiles. Who would you like to know more about? What kind of stories do we need to tell more often? Whose lessons learned would you like to hear? Tweet us, Facebook us, email us or sound off in our Disqus section below!

To start us off, can you give us a quick primer on MENTORnetwork and Growth Mosaic?
MENTORnetwork is committed to creating a culture of mentorship across Canada. They develop programs and resources to support individuals accessing mentorship. Their online mentor-matching platform called MENTORup provides a network of mentors to support entrepreneurs and social innovators in the Greater Toronto Area.

Growth Mosaic is based in Ghana. They work with West African social enterprises to improve internal capabilities and operational efficiency.  Growth Mosaic also helps their clients access and manage growth capital. Their clients generate an economic and social and/or environmental impact.

Obviously, a big factor in the decision to invest in a venture is its business model.  What made you believe in the sustainability of the MENTORnetwork and Growth Mosaic models?
When it comes to MENTORnetwork, we were particularly impressed with the evolution of their business model and client offerings. At first, MENTORnetwork hosted workshops for entrepreneurs on how to best leverage private mentorship programs. Now that they have successfully built a client base around these workshops, MENTORnetwork has recently rolled out software that connects a network of mentors to entrepreneurs and social innovators. YSI strongly believes that the MENTORnetwork combination of workshops and software will play pivotal roles in creating a culture of mentorship across Canada.

Growth Mosaic does what others don’t. They prepare West African social enterprises to raise investment capital by helping them improve internal capabilities and operational efficiency. While there are a number of organizations that invest in social enterprises operating in West Africa, very few concentrate on getting them investment-ready. Alongside preparing their clients for investment, Growth Mosaic also facilitates capital raises and provides post-investment advisory services to most effectively allocate and implement newly raised capital.

Dynamic, committed leadership is key for the success of any venture, possibly even more so for social enterprises. Talk to us a bit about the entrepreneurs behind MENTORnetwork and Growth Mosaic. What makes them tick? How did they sell you on their idea?
In the case of Jeremy O’Krafka, founder and CEO of MENTORnetwork, he is a trustworthy leader that is passionate about mentorship. While encountering personal and professional challenges years ago, a relationship with a mentor catalyzed him into positive action.  Now Jeremy is on a mission to spread the power of mentorship to others. Jeremy is extremely respected among Ontario’s entrepreneur support system. He was the past-President of JCI (Junior Chamber International) Toronto, acted as the Corporate Partnerships Lead for BizLaunch, and even produced a Guinness World Record setting event with the Ontario Centres of Excellence for the “World’s Largest Business Mentoring Event”.

When we got to know Wayne Miranda, founder and CEO of Growth Mosaic, it was very clear the he is a passionate and determined social entrepreneur dedicated to the hypothesis that job creation is the ultimate poverty reduction tool. Wayne has significant on-the-ground experience in sub-Saharan Africa and a thorough understanding of the needs of the West African market. He is also well-known and well-respected in Ontario, particularly among Engineers without Borders (EWB) Canada. Growth Mosaic is one of EWB Canada’s portfolio ventures, meaning they have also invested in Growth Mosaic. In 2013, Growth Mosaic accessed equity capital from EWB Canada and has ongoing access to their strategic support.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about impact. What makes these ventures worthy of the moniker “social enterprise”, or from your end what makes these “impact investments”?
MENTORnetwork generates positive impact through their core offerings. Through their workshops and software, MENTORnetwork develops programs and resources to support individuals accessing mentorship. The benefits of mentorship include personal and professional  development, increased knowledge, and positive venture growth. The YSI decision process takes into account more factors than the entrepreneur, business model, and positive impact of the social enterprise. However, these three categories compose a major part of our analysis and are the most powerful reasons behind our support for Jeremy O’Krafka and MENTORnetwork.

Growth Mosaic is committed to clients that operate in high-impact industries like agriculture, clean water, and health provision. They help grow West African businesses that generate local quality employment, include local suppliers in their supply chains, and create growth in rural communities through improved goods and services.

Both Growth Mosaic and MENTORnetwork create powerful positive impact in the societies in which they operate. YSI is looking forward to playing a pivotal role in supporting the financial, social, and environmental goals of these social enterprises.

On a more general note, YSI supports Canadian leadership at local and global levels. We invest in organizations registered or incorporated in Canada that create positive impact anywhere in the world. YSI is proud to add an investment with local impact and an investment with international impact to our portfolio.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned to SF.ca as we roll out more profiles on ventures, funds, investors and other folks doing interesting and impactful work in the world of social finance!

Also, please join us on Tuesday March 18, 2014 for ImpactOntario – a landmark conference that brings world-changing Ontario ventures together with world-leading investors and intermediaries. Registration is now open!

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