Do good and make a profit

Launch of the Columbia Valley’s Community Investment co-op

Columbia Valley residents have a chance to get in on the ground-floor of a new investment cooperative launching in the East Kootenays.

Community Investment Co-ops (CIC) allow members to pool their money to support local ventures, while getting a return on their investments. Essentially, it is a way to save your money and help the local economy at the same time.

Eden Yesh, a leading advocate for investment co-ops and branch manager of the Invermere branch of Kootenay Employment Services, is spearheading the new co-op.

“You invest anyways and the options available to us right now allow us to invest in national or international mutual funds or corporations in stocks. But we can’t invest into local businesses in the Columbia Valley or Invermere easily,” Mr. Yesh says. “It’s really about bringing a portion of our portfolios into the places we live and work and play.”

Mr. Yesh reports that in RSPs alone, the East Kootenays are “leaking” $90 million per year.

“Unlike other investments where you’re completely disconnected to any of the positive or negative returns, (in a CIC) you’re very connected to your local investment, to become ambassadors, to create relationship with entrepreneurs,” says Mr. Yesh.

Businesses within the region can apply for financing, and approved applicants receive business development guidance, collaborative financing and ongoing support.

Mr. Yesh toured the Kootenays, including stops in Radium and Invermere, to promote two new co-ops for the East and West Kootenays. The Radium and Invermere sessions drew out more than 40 people to listen and learn. The presentations netted more than enough founding members to create a viable co-op.

“We had a target minimum of 60 founding members across the East Kootenays, and another goal of 60 in the west. We’ve already crossed that threshold,” shares Mr. Yesh.

The East Kootenay CIC will have four sub-regions: the Columbia Valley and Golden, Revelstoke, Kimberley and Cranbrook, and the Elk Valley. Members can donate as little as $500 or up to $5,000.

The local investment co-ops are not a guaranteed fund like a term deposit. Members share in the risks and rewards of the business portfolio, Mr. Yesh explains.

“When businesses are repaying loans as anticipated, we expect a modest return similar to a GIC.”

The East and West Kootenays’ co-ops are coming on the heels of the successful Creston co-op, which launched in December 2016. In the first few months, they signed up 107 founding members and now have more than $350,000 pooled in the community’s Credit Union. An estimated 30 plus jobs have been created as a result of that financing, Mr. Yesh says, explaining the funds from the co-op were leveraged into other financing as well for Creston business ventures.

To become a founding member, sign up before December 14th. While there are no special bonuses for signing up early, you will get bragging rights that you were a founding member, and that incentive is priceless.

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