C is for CAPACITY

Alyssa OplandUncategorized

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C is for CAPACITY

The Canopy C might lead you to believe that when you show up for a meeting here you’ll see lab coats and colliders.  Not quite.  But, the scientific nod is not lost completely.  Canopy was born out of the increasingly intense need for interconnectivity across sectors within regional economic systems.  Every player – from governments to corporations to non-profits and beyond – is feeling the pain of going it alone, and most are finding it difficult to accomplish their respective missions as a result.  Here are a couple of examples from recent conversations:

  1. 3 considerably sized foundations ($130M – $800M) are undergoing significant staffing reductions as the need to run lean intensifies. As a result they are not able to support the early-stage investments their community needs, or the research required to surface them.  They are left with either un-deployed capital, or deployed capital that is not furthering their mission.
  2. A Department of Commerce is stretched to meet the needs of rural communities, and is pursuing one foundation at a time to support small business growth. They have the data to surface investment opportunities, but need private investment partners to provide the scale of capital businesses need, and intermediaries to deploy that capital.
  3. A community development financial institution (CDFI) has been working in the region for decades. They have a unique ability to bring financing to those who need it most with great success rates in a field deemed “too risky” for traditional investors.  This work is incredibly impactful, and would move the dial on rural economies if the profile of their investment opportunities could rise and be de-risked for institutional investors.

At Canopy we have these conversations every day – we see atoms floating and spinning in one space, without ever meaningfully connecting.  Thus, we have set out to be that connective energy within regional economic systems.  To some we are the research arm they need to surface fundable opportunities, but don’t have the capacity for in-house.  To others, we are the educators who help early stage funds prepare for institutional due diligence and investment.  And to still others we are the + in 1+1=3, identifying opportunities for organizations and systems to connect in new and impactful ways, and making those connections possible.  To all, though, we are a long-awaited means to driving capital to a region at a scale that has truly sustainable impact.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Members contribute capital to Canopy.
  2. Canopy utilizes that capital to generate research and infrastructure-building functions that members don’t have the capacity to support on their own. Examples:
    1. Regional capital scans that surface community-identified, early-stage investment opportunities
    2. Training for early stage funds to effectively raise institutional capital and put it to work
    3. Research on new models for collaborative investing
    4. Ecosystem mapping that identifies opportunities for new or enhanced economic collaborations
  3. Members use these functions to make investment decisions – often intentionally co-investing across sectors.
  4. Regions see capital infusions at newly scalable and sustainable levels, deployed where it is needed most.

Over the next week Canopy will announce two foundational research partners who will be building out the base layers on which the rest of this connective infrastructure will be reside.  Stay tuned, and contribute to the conversation around how we can build thriving regional economies @investcanopy.

by Lauren Sato, COO, Canopy