A group of Black executives launched a new fund to make long-term investments to support Black-led organizations and businesses across the country and to fight systemic racism in corporate Canada. Kim Parlee speaks with Colin Lynch, Head of Global Real Estate Investments at TD Asset Management, and co-founder of the Black Opportunity Fund.
Some August data came out and showed that there was a 41% decline in Black businesses versus only 22% decline for non Black businesses. This summer, a group of Black executives launched a new fund to make long term investments in Black-led organizations and businesses across the country to fight systemic racism in corporate Canada.
Colin Lynch is the Head of Global Real Estate Investments at TD Asset Management. He's one of the founders of the Black Opportunity Fund. Colin, I rattled off a lot of stats at the beginning-- very sobering. Tell me a bit about how the Black Opportunity Fund came about and how it works.
- Well, thank you, Kim. The journey with Black Opportunity Fund started in November of last year. It was accelerated by COVID, and you highlighted a few of the stats that are quite troublesome. And then, certainly, by the summer events and tragic events that we saw in many places throughout North America.
Ultimately, what the collective of Black leaders decided to do was to simply create a permanent body of capital that could help existing organizations that are doing tremendous work, and we could help them by solving their funding gaps by providing capital to help Black charities and nonprofits scale up and Black businesses to accomplish more.
- You have a target, I understand, of growing the fund to $1 billion within 10 years. How has the response been so far?
- It's been tremendous. We came out publicly to state that we support this initiative with 51 individuals. Now that's over 200, and we have engaged with over 70 corporations across Canada in addition to the federal government, and with a number of other philanthropic entities, foundations, and the like.
The response has been actually overwhelming. There's been tremendous support and a lot of movement and positive momentum as we build the Black Opportunity Fund.
- I know that you mentioned you've had lots of support. I know that TD Bank is doing its part as well to help further the objectives of the fund. How has corporate Canada helped?
- Absolutely. Corporate Canada has helped in a few ways. There's been several corporations that have provided monetary contributions to the fund already. There are others that have provided in kind device and help, whether it's a leading management consulting firm providing a full team to help or whether it was organizations such as Mars or Miller Thomson providing advice on legal counsel.
I would say TD has been a tremendous supporter not just with the Black Opportunity Fund, but generally for the Black community. But as it relates to the Black Opportunity Fund, has provided a ton of advice with respect to the creation of it, how we can best amplify our collective efforts and create the best impact.
Ultimately, we're trying to create the world's largest endowment at over $1 billion to the Black community, and having the help of partners such as TD has been instrumental to make sure that we create something that will be successful and permanent in the long term.
- Colin, I've only got about a minute. I'm saving, I think, the most important question to the end. I mean, you're focused on creating that endowment to fund what you're trying to accomplish. So let me ask you, what does success look like in terms of economic or social empowerment? How do you know you're getting the results you want?
- Success looks like change in outcomes. So that means the Black unemployment rate goes down in Canada. That means new Black businesses are formed and grow. That means charities that are able to educate and are able to help change some of our health care outcomes and social outcomes that we've seen. We have a number of KPIs, but we look at those and more to ensure that we're successful in this journey.
- Colin, great to have you on with us. It's an exciting initiative and we look forward to talking to you again to see how it's going.
- Great to be here. Thank you.