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  • Writer's pictureDave Ives

Investment and Return - Know Your WHY!

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

I’ve reached the stage in the ‘GSVI’ process (Groundswell Social Venture Incubator), where I’m learning a bit more about business models. This got me thinking about the whole subject of ‘investment and return,’ which is the subject of this blog.

Let me start by setting the scene so you know my angle, (not that you have to agree!). For many, the words ‘investment’ and ‘return’ have become pretty ugly words today. I associate these words with the world of realty, a world of greed where the rich keep getting richer. But as I take a moment to pause; step back from my cultural filter and reflect; I am reminded of the positive principles of ‘I&R’ (investment and return) that make it a good and worthy concept to meditate on further (and by meditate I mean fill your mind, not empty it!).

A few thoughts for you to ponder…

First, let’s remove money from the equation when speaking of I&R; not that money itself is bad, but there are plenty of other forms of capital out there; knowledge, space, social, etc…

Second, social ventures are about investing in people. As I think back over the most influential people in my life; my parents, that teacher, a youth worker, close friend; they were all people who invested hugely into me; their time, love, trust, patience; not to mention blood, sweat and tears!

Third, social ventures are about investing in people for their profit. In the context of realty, the one who invests is usually the one who gets the greatest return. In contrast, in the context of community based social ventures, the return is shared between those who invest and those who are being invested in. Think about it… When we invest in those in need, our motivation and hope is that they will benefit from our efforts, the beauty is that we too also get a return in the process. For example, I used to mentor young people living through challenging circumstances. I’m pretty sure that they benefited from my efforts, but I know that I also benefited from seeing them grow and overcome their hurdles. This kind of investment is special because the investors yield a return as well as those being invested in; and this return is arguably greater than any monetary investment. Can anyone put a price tag on that kind of fulfillment?!

As Social Venturers, we shouldn't feel constantly bogged down by how to make money. Not that making a financial profit isn’t a good thing, anyone who wants to stay in business needs to find a model that generates sustainable revenue; especially if they want to keep living in Vancouver! But let’s not make financial return our main motivation. Let’s keep hold of why we are doing what we are doing; investing in the cause and letting the return follow… and my bet is that the return will be greater than you expected!

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