Raven Indigenous Capital Partners
Environment & Sustainability
Human Rights & Equality
Indigenous Peoples & Reconciliation
Science & Technology
INDIGENOUS ECONOMIC SELF-DETERMINATION
The Challenge: When it comes to Indigenous business, Canada is stuck in a colonial mindset. Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities are systematically excluded from opportunities to access the venture capital needed to grow businesses and generate wealth — paving the way to perpetual poverty.
The Solution: With Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, Jeff Cyr and his partners are connecting Indigenous business with the social investment community. Their Indigenous Impact Fund, the first of its kind in Canada (and the world!), provides much-needed capital and support to enterprises across the country.
From forced dependency to economic self-determination
With Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, Jeff Cyr is connecting Indigenous entrepreneurs with capital — and creating opportunities for economic Reconciliation within the investment community.
The reconciliation economy
Canadians are increasingly aware of the devastating, multigenerational impacts of residential schools on our Indigenous populations. But colonialism continues to reinforce poverty in our Métisand First Nations communities by lesser-known but highly problematic means: the systemic exclusion of Indigenous people from the mainstream economy.
Paternalistic and racist policies treat Indigenous communities as “wards of the state” rather than as full economic citizens. For example, reserve land cannot be used as collateral, making it hard to get loans. On many reserves, people may own their houses but not the land they are built on, a situation that makes it impossible to build equity. The vast majority of First Nations communities do not have a bank within their boundaries, making it difficult for residents to establish or maintain credit ratings, or access financing. Generations of colonialism and systemic racism have disproportionately excluded would-be Indigenous entrepreneurs from tapping into intergenerational wealth — a common source of capital for startups from more privileged communities.
Métis negotiator and entrepreneur Jeff Cyr has developed a new model for Indigenous economic growth. In 2017, he and two partners co-founded the Raven Group, which includes Canada’s first Indigenous venture capital intermediary and the Raven Indigenous Impact Fund, the first of its kind in Canada. The fund will provide not only capital but education and support to Indigenous social enterprises across the country.
With the Raven model, communities — not the federal government — set their own development priorities, and then brainstorm Indigenous-led solutions to address those priorities. Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs are supported through a solutions-lab model to identify needs and desired outcomes, map existing assets, and connect with impact investors as well as “outcome purchasers” — like government departments and foundations — who repay the original investors once the venture is successfully launched. The model, Jeff explains, transforms historical power dynamics from dependency to self-determination and makes use of the federal government “pay-for-performance” policy that rewards organizations that deliver on desired social and environmental outcomes.
Fundraising for the Raven Indgenous Impact Fund far surpassed its initial goal of $5 million: with $17.5 million in committed capital, Jeff and his partners are looking to raise $20 million by the year’s end. There’s a huge opportunity, he says, for sustainable, Indigenous-led economic growth in Canada. Through Raven, he’s determined to foster it, bringing full economic citizenship to Indigenous communities.