Real estate investment with social impact

Community bonds

‘This is a new model of raising money. It’s a tool that allows us to change the way we design cities. We don’t need to wait for the city to build new community centres, we can build them ourselves!’ – Tonya Surman, CEO and co-founder of CSI.

Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) is a social enterprise that supports individuals, businesses and organisations who are trying address the world’s economic, environmental and social challenges.   They currently have three locations in Toronto and one in New York City.

As part of their development in Toronto they realised that ownership of their space was a key priority to provide long term stability, against a backdrop of increasing real estate prices.  To enable the purchase of the new 64,000 sqft building they have released community bonds, which allow people to invest in the development, whilst supporting CSI to pursue its mission and build its resilience.

How does a Community Bond work?

The Community Bond is an interest-bearing loan that allows a nonprofit to leverage investment from its community.  Investment earns an annual return, is backed by the building, and has a social impact.

More info about the project can be found here, and this blog post from the CEO and co-founder, Tonya Surman, explains the board’s reasons for making ownership a core strategy to their work.