Founders often pursue entrepreneurship to chase after their year(s)-long dream, find something more exciting other than their 9-5 job, or provide solutions to a pressing issue based on their own experience. For Goparity Canada, this route was a bit different. United by their interest in social finance, these three friends, and now Founders, soon realized that their friendship was meant to have a bigger purpose of innovating for the better good of all.
Business partners, friends, and classmates, Emily Mercy, Elliot Warner and Blake Bunting, are revolutionizing the world of social finance by helping Canadians invest to create a long-term positive impact, socially and environmentally. Goparity Canada is an impact investing platform that provides investors with a list of eco-conscious companies/projects to fund Canadian businesses that work towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Prioritizing accessibility to all investors and welcoming SMEs for crowdlending through their platform, the venture captures a unique space in the impact investing world through its democratized process, and transparent, easy-to-understand metrics for investors.
When I first tried impact investing, I realized that this space of social finance is directed towards high net-worth individuals. Retail investors, like you or me, would need to put down thousands of dollars for investment. That’s when I started exploring ways in which we can bring this kind of impact investing model to the everyday person
The exploration began, only to find a model that was already successfully growing in the other part of the world. When the world started to shut down during the pandemic, a whole new array of opportunities opened for the Founders of Goparity Canada. Suddenly, these three Founders were talking to ventures, individuals and teams from all around the globe, including Africa, Europe and South America, discovering various business models that work for impact investing ventures around the world. If you’ve ever taken a business/entrepreneurship class, you’re probably aware of the Business 101 rule – always look for your competitors who are operating in a different market. This extensive search brought Portuguese impact investment platform, Goparity, in the limelight. “We were truly in awe of their phenomenal model. Through their platform, the team was enabling European investors to invest as little as €5 in impactful projects within their communities. Our shared vision in the finance space and alignment with the team prompted us to adapt their model to the Canadian markets,” shares Mercy. And so, Goparity was born on March 2021 with a one-of-its-kind business model in place. “It’s truly a win-win situation. We’re lucky to have the support of their expertise, tools and incredible team who has been implementing this model in Europe, South America and Africa for 7 years now. For the Goparity team, they’ve got deep insights into Canadian consumers, how they behave and what do they expect from the platform through us,” shares Mercy.
Officially launching in June 2023, the platform wholeheartedly invites environmentally friendly Canadian SMEs who often find difficulty in approval for loans, lines of credit and other financing opportunities due to lesser payback or benefits as compared to other huge corporations that might not necessarily be sustainable. To successfully get on the platform, the venture uses a three-pronged due diligence process which includes assessment of the impact measured against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, revenue generation and profitability over the last two years and risk rating analysis supported by their Chief Compliance Officer. The platform’s user interface is different from its Portuguese counterpart, as stricter Canadian regulations ask for more details from the investors to understand their financial position and provide higher-level of security. Once you get through the account creation process, you’re all set to start investing in the future you want to see. With some existing Canadian projects on their website, Mercy ensures that there’s surely more to come in the pipeline and encourages everyone to try the platform with an openness to user feedback.
Reflecting on her journey till now, Mercy remembers that one of the most challenging times that these friends and founders went through together was the process of understanding regulations and rules of the Canadian financial landscape. Known to be one of the most strictly regulated markets, breaking into the Canadian financial markets, especially for selling financial instruments, is a time-consuming and exhausting process. Countless hours of dedicated research and conversations with other entrepreneurs navigating through the same waters helped the Goparity Canada team in demystifying the crowdlending space. The pandemic, however, had different plans and led to a 15-month long wait period before the platform could successfully launch in Canada. “All these regulations were quite shocking to discover, but it’s also a very neat thing to bring this side to Goparity. We’re observing upcoming tighter regulations in the European markets and so now, we can easily support that team with what we’ve developed here,” shares Mercy.
What’s next for Goparity? The venture is currently focused on improving their platform to truly serve the best interests of their investors and businesses, making it even more accessible, transparent and easy-to-use. “We’re so early and have so much opportunity to make improvements at this stage of our business, so any feedback will help us in exploring scalability and executing the many different ideas that our team envisions to make Goparity a leading impact investing platform,” says Mercy.
If you’re interested in investing with Goparity or want to know more, visit https://goparity.ca/