GUELPH, ONJune 24, 2015 /CNW/ – The Co-operators has announced that they will increase their pledge to the Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF) to $10 million. The Fund, which will be launched in the coming months, will support the development and expansion of Canadian co-operatives with loans and other funding sourced from the co-op sector.

The Fund, a first of its kind in Canada, was created under the leadership of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada to address the challenge co-operatives face in accessing capital from conventional sources. It will provide funding with favourable conditions to developing co‑operatives throughout the country. The Fund is to begin its operation once it has reached its target of $25 million committed from the Canadian co-operative and mutual sector.

“Access to capital has long been recognized as a significant challenge facing co-operatives and we’re pleased to support this solution designed by the co-op sector for the co-op sector,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “Co-operatives have a long tradition of helping one another, and this is an innovative approach that will provide a new source of funding for emerging co-op and strengthen the Canadian co-op sector as a whole.”

Because co-operatives are owned and democratically controlled by their membership, they are not able to access capital markets in the same way as investor-owned companies. A study by Deloitte in 2012 showed that 74 per cent of co-operatives around the world identified access to capital as “somewhat difficult” or “difficult.”

The concept of the Fund is that Canadian co-operatives will invest with the expectation of a modest return on their investment, but with the additional aim of enabling a new and more flexible source of funding specifically for developing co‑operatives.

“With the commitment announced today by The Co-operators, the investment Fund has now reached a tipping point and is ready to launch” said Jack Wilkinson, the newly elected President of CMC. “Now is the time for this idea, it is a first class impact investment opportunity that will support the development of co-ops in Canada.”

The pledge by The Co-operators represents new funding, which does not replace any of its existing programs that support the co-op sector, such as the Co-operative Development Program.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $40 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean’s magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

 For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, 519-767-3937