Federal government announces first VCCI inclusive growth stream VC fund recipients

BKR Capital managing partner Lise Birikundavyi and general partner Isaac Olowolafe.
BKR Capital, District Ventures Capital, Ripple Ventures, Sandpiper Ventures, The51 receive portion of $25 million.

The Government of Canada is investing up to $25 million CAD into five Canadian venture capital (VC) funds through the inclusive growth stream of the renewed Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI).

These VC fund recipients include Calgary-based District Ventures Capital and The51’s Food and AgTech Fund, Toronto’s BKR Capital and Ripple Ventures, and Halifax-based Sandpiper Ventures.

Through VCCI’s $50-million inclusive growth stream, the feds hope to advance DEI in the Canadian VC ecosystem.

Through VCCI’s $50-million inclusive growth stream, the federal government hopes to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the Canadian VC ecosystem by providing capital to diverse fund managers to support underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women and racialized individuals.

As part of this investment, BKR Capital, District Ventures Capital, Ripple Ventures, Sandpiper Ventures, and The51 will be required to report on their progress in enhancing diversity and gender equality.

This marks the first of two investments through VCCI’s inclusive growth stream, which the Government of Canada first announced in Budget 2021 as part of the VCCI fund-of-funds initiative’s $450 million renewal. This total also includes a $350-million stream for other funds-of-funds and $50 million for life sciences-focused VC funds that make direct investments.

District Ventures Capital, which is led by Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson, backs innovative Canadian companies in the food and beverage and health and wellness sectors. The51, a fellow women-led Calgary VC firm and VCCI recipient, plans to continue focusing on women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs through its Food and AgTech Fund, for which it had previously closed $30 million of its $50-million target.

RELATED: VCCI fund managers chosen for latest $350-million injection of federal capital

Led by Lise Birikundavyi and Isaac Olowolafe, Toronto’s BKR Capital had previously closed $18.5 million to back Black-founded tech startups. For its part, Ripple Ventures, which is also headquartered in Toronto and currently working towards closing its third fund, has supported diverse entrepreneurs and aspiring VCs through both its funds and its RippleX Fellowship Program.

Meanwhile, women-led, Halifax-based Sandpiper Ventures, which closed $20 million for its first fund last year, targets women-led tech startups across a wide range of verticals.

VCCI, which is managed by the Business Development Bank of Canada, will invest up to another $25 million into Canadian VC funds through its inclusive growth stream. A call for expressions of interest for the second intake is ongoing and set to close on November 22.

UPDATE (10/11/23): This story has been updated to clarify that Arlene Dickinson is a current investor on Dragons’ Den.

Feature image courtesy BKR Capital.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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