Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has launched a $100-million venture capital fund to support proven, viable companies through unexpected business disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launched in partnership with Forage Capital Inc. – a Calgary-based venture capital firm – the Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund is set up to provide companies with the stability and flexibility they need to rebuild their business models during challenging times.
FCC is the sole investor in the fund, which will primarily offer convertible debt investments, as well as other flexible financing solutions. (Convertible debt investments give companies the flexibility of paying down debt or providing the investor with equity in the business.)
Michael Hoffort, FCC president and CEO, said the need for this type of venture capital fund is especially evident in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the need will exist beyond the current crisis as companies can experience business disruptions for various reasons.
“This strategic investment is another way FCC is supporting growth and innovation in the only industry we serve – especially at this time,” Hoffort said. “As a commercial Crown corporation, we serve as catalyst for private investment in Canada’s agriculture and food industry and we are here for the long haul, through all business cycles.”
In addition, FCC also recently invested more than $50 million into three new venture capital funds and provided funding to an innovation and growth accelerator to support various parts of Canada’s agriculture and food industry.
These recent investments include:
InvestEco Sustainable Food Fund – is a $100-million fund to invest in expansion-stage private companies with the goal of promoting health and sustainability in the food and agricultural sector. The fund manager offers expertise in sustainable agriculture and food production and believes these activities are important to environmental and health outcomes. InvestEco has previously invested in many leading food and agriculture brands across North America. FCC’s commitment to this fund is $20 million.
District Ventures Fund – is a $100-million fund that focuses solely on investing in companies operating in the food and beverage sector, health, wellness and beauty consumer goods categories. In addition to capital, District Ventures Capital provides recipient companies with marketing, programming and commercialization support. FCC’s commitment to this fund is $20 million.
Ag Capital Canada Fund – is a $24-million fund aimed at discovering, developing and nurturing Canadian agricultural businesses through capital investment and entrepreneurial expertise. The focus is on established businesses in need of growth capital and business management mentorship. FCC’s commitment is $12 million, which represents 50 per cent of the fund.
Bioenterprise – is a non-profit corporation established in 2000 to provide accelerator, mentorship and support services for entrepreneurs and innovative companies in Canada’s agribusiness and agri-food sector. Through its network of regional offices, Bioenterprise provides hands-on mentorship for innovative entrepreneurs and start-up companies. FCC committed $1.35 million in program support to facilitate expansion of Bioenterprises’ services to underserved areas across Canada.
“Our investments focus on promoting innovation and sustainability within Canada’s agriculture and food industry, supporting start-up to growth stage businesses, as well as filling the gaps in financing for underserved parts of our industry,” Hoffort said. “This is another way FCC can support entrepreneurs and promote innovation and success in this exciting and dynamic industry.”