Canada’s 1st Socially Responsible Bank — yes that’s not a typo…

We had the pleasure of co-hosting a new startup out of Quebec that is creating a new type of bank — Impak Finance.

The following is an excerpt from their blog, read full story here.

After a 1st week on the road, away from our beds and pets Kombucha, Sputnik, and Minerva, we were a little homesick. When we left Toronto for London at 5 AM on Monday, we had no idea we were about to meet people we now call friends.

As we stepped off the train at 9 AM, our AirBnB host Jeff London (from LONDON… Some things you just can’t make up… or almost) was waiting to greet us at the door. Jeff reminds us of Paul, our CEO: a chatty, passionate man with a somewhat unique story. A disillusioned former financial advisor and disappointed conservative party candidate, Jeff is now a consultant for two tech startups, vegan and AirBnB host from time to time.

Also a newly converted Zen enthusiast, Jeff London generously shared the story of London — a warm city reborn after a recession caused by closures of branches of major banks. In only a few years, over 80 social economy enterprises have emerged. They are run by young entrepreneurs and supported by the entire community.

After a city tour, Jeff dropped us off at the London Food Lab in the Farmer’s Market, a cafe/community kitchen/grocery in East London. This is where we had planned a meeting with David Cook, roaster and owner of a coffee shop chain. We were greeted with caramel apple tea lattes, homemade apple donuts and the aroma of fresh coffee

4 Takeaways from Co-Creation Workshop at Innovation Works

Educate the community — The theme of financial literacy dominated. The bank can become an educational platform on finance to provide adequate community support. It can also become a place for knowledge transfer between experienced investors and young entrepreneurs. Mentoring could allow young entrepreneurs to refine their understanding of the environment and investors would enhance thereof the value their experience.

Build the community — What doesn’t exist in the real world can’t exist in the virtual world. If we want to create a community and an ecosystem, we must listen to its constituents. Our challenge will be to use technological tools to connect with the community and get to know the humans behind the screen. Why not have ambassadors in a place like Innovation Works to work and mobilize the community around a shared vision?

Share the community — Communities can share risks and successes of various projects through crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending. When we achieve mutual success, we share a sense of belonging to the projects we support and encourage. A multi-source funding platform would finance community-supported projects.

Support the community — Not so long ago, banks supported local projects through trust and proximity between citizens and bankers. Why not return to the basics? Let’s consider community support for entrepreneurs as criteria of credibility and solvency.