As social finance and impact investing gained steam throughout the 2010s and the availability of early-stage capital grew for many social purpose entrepreneurs, a gap persisted when it came to financing available to Indigenous-led start-ups.
Seeing the need and opportunity in Indigenous communities, Jeffrey Cyr, Paul Lacerte, and Stephen Nairne founded Raven Indigenous Capital Partners in 2018 to specifically invest in Indigenous enterprises in Canada and the United States. Headquartered in Vancouver, Raven is North America’s only Indigenous-led and owned impact investment firm.
Earlier this year, Raven closed its over-subscribed $100 million Raven Indigenous Impact Fund II, which had an initial target of $75 million. This built on the success of their $25 million Raven Indigenous Impact Fund I, launched in 2019.
Unique in the impact investing space, Raven provides patient capital along with culturally grounded support to Indigenous entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs like Jenn Harper, the founder of Canada’s first Indigenous-owned cosmetics company, Cheekbone Beauty. Initially run out of Jenn’s basement, Raven’s $350,000 investment in 2020 helped her move Cheekbone’s operations into a 2,000 square foot warehouse in St. Catharines, build an in-house cosmetics lab, and hire a full-time chemist.
Born from a vivid dream Jenn had one night in 2014 of “two little girls who looked like me when I was small, with the rosiest cheeks,” Cheekbone is now a successful brand known for its sustainable products and values featured in InStyle, Marie Claire, and VOGUE.
Other companies Raven has invested in include digital agency Animikii, software-testing venture PLATO Testing, and composting and waste recycling company Salish Environmental Group.
For Metcalf, impact investing is another way for us to make a difference with our money beyond our grantmaking. We are proud to have invested in both of Raven’s funds and celebrate the significant growth in funding they have secured — funding that will be fully dedicated to early and growth stage Indigenous companies and support the ongoing revitalization of the Indigenous economy in Canada and the United States.