Renewal Funds is a mission venture capital firm investing in early growth stage companies in Canada and the United States. We add value for entrepreneurs through capital, networks, and expertise. We deliver above market returns for our partners while catalyzing positive social and environmental change.
Paul Richardson, CEO
Prior to launching Renewal Funds, Paul co-managed the Renewal Partners’ venture portfolio from 2003-2009. In that time, Renewal was active in over 20 significant transactions with companies in its portfolio. From 2004 to 2006, Paul also led an international consortium of philanthropic foundations and private investors in successful negotiations with the Federal and Provincial governments and the Coastal First Nations to structure a financing deal that supported the conservation of the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest intact, coastal temperate rain-forest left in the world.
Paul brings both legal and business experience to Renewal Funds. He practiced law at Fasken Martineau in Toronto for four years before leaving to become a senior partner at Strathy & Richardson, a leading Canadian litigation firm in Toronto, where he continued his legal practice for eight years. Paul is a graduate of Queen’s University (Biology) and the University of Toronto (Law). Paul is a Board Director for Renewal Funds on the Alter Eco, Elevation Brands, OptiRTC, Sensible Organics, and Sweet Earth Natural Foods boards. He is also a Board Observer on the Miovision board. Paul has considerable not-for-profit board experience, having served as Vice Chair of the Coast Opportunities Funds and is the past President of Ecojustice Canada. In 2013 Paul was named as one of Canada’s Clean50.
Joel Solomon, Chairman & Co-Founder
Joel is Chairman of Renewal Funds and President and CEO of Renewal; he brings a vast network and wealth of deal experience to Renewal Funds. Joel was instrumental in the development of Renewal Partners and the Endswell Foundation and has led them since their inception in 1994. Renewal Partners has invested in over 75 companies that share its commitment to socially responsible growth.
Prior to founding Renewal, Joel spent ten years building businesses in Nashville’s decayed urban core where he co-founded Village Real Estate, CORE development, the Bongo Java chain of coffee houses and roasters and 32 West Corp. (a chain of three independent restaurants). Joel is a founding member of Social Venture Network (SVN), Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), and Tides Canada. He is Board Chair of Hollyhock Foundation, and sits on numerous other boards and civic engagements. He is a Senior Advisor to RSF Social Finance in San Francisco and is a member of the SVN Hall of Fame. Joel represents Renewal Funds on the board of Spud and is an observer for Renewal Funds on the Farmhouse Culture board.
Carol Newell, Co-Founder
Carol Newell is the Founding Investor and Principal of Renewal Partners. Through this organization, she has established a life’s work as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist, placing over $60 million in organizations and businesses working toward sustainability in BC.
Carol is also the co-creator of Play BIG, an initiative to encourage others with wealth to activate their resources for social change.
Ms. Newell is an active member of Hollyhock, the Threshold Foundation, Canadian Women’s Foundation, Women’s Donors Network, Investors’ Circle, Social Venture Network, and the Wealth & Giving Forum. In 2007, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2008 she was honoured by her Alma Mater, St Lawrence University with a Doctor of Humane Letters.
Nicole Bradbury, Senior Vice President
Nicole joined Renewal Funds in 2008 as a member of the investment team from Phillips, Hager & North Investment Management Ltd. (PH&N), where she managed private client portfolios. Nicole brings over 15 years experience as a portfolio manager for institutional and private clients with Merrill Lynch in London and Geneva, AllianceBernstein in New York, and PH&N in Vancouver. Nicole is a CFA charterholder, holds an MBA from Columbia Business School (Finance Value Investing concentration), and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours, Co-op) from Memorial University. Nicole has volunteered as a Board Director of the Canadian Memorial United Church and the Pacific Parklands Foundation, and Family Services of Greater Vancouver. Nicole is a past Board Member of Elevation Brands and currently sits on the board of PRANA. Nicole is currently on sabbatical, returning September 2016.
Cathering (Kate) Storey, Vice President
Kate joined the Renewal Funds investment team from CIBC World Markets. At CIBC she worked in both the equity and debt capital markets and originated public market financings for corporate and government clients. Kate is responsible for assisting with Renewal Funds’ investment screening and analysis, deal sourcing, due diligence, and deal execution. Kate sits on the Board of the Georgia Strait Alliance and on an advisory board for the Aboriginal Mother Centre in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. She holds an MBA (Finance) from Dalhousie University, a B.Sc. (Honours, Biology) from Mount Allison University and a Certificate in Carbon Finance from the University of Toronto. Kate is a Board Member for Renewal Funds investee companies, Better Bean and a Board Observer for Sweet Earth Natural Foods.
Mike Cormack, Venture Partner
Mike is a key member of the investment team and brings with him significant U.S. deal experience. Prior to joining Renewal Funds in 2008, Mike oversaw planning and acquisitions for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). He was the President of Archipelago Holdings, an electronic trading company, which in 2006 executed a historic merger enabling the NYSE to become a public company. At Archipelago, Mike was responsible for sales and operations, successfully executed several mergers, and took the firm into the public markets in 2004. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. Mike has volunteered as a Board Member for Recovery Point Systems and Ecojustice Canada and currently sits on the Board of Renewal Funds investees Aquatic Informatics, OptiRTC and Cascadia Windows.
Geordan Hankinson, Associate
Geordan assists Renewal Funds with company research, due diligence and financial analysis. Prior to joining Renewal, Geordan worked at Ecotrust Canada where he helped to develop its sustainable business initiatives and provided financial advisory services to a variety of First Nations clients. Geordan has worked on a range of social and economic impact measurement projects, leading evaluations of investments in social housing and support programs for at-risk populations. Geordan has a BA in Sociology and an MBA from Simon Fraser University, where he was co-president of the school’s Net Impact chapter.
Bernadette Feist, Operations and Administration Manager
Bernadette joined the Renewal team in November, 2014. Her extensive legal and business experience includes over 15 years as a paralegal, 10 years of senior management experience in a renewable energy corporation in British Columbia, five years as joint owner and operator of a health, wellness and yoga studio, and more recently on-the-ground experience in the organic food production industry in Cawston, B.C., in the Similkameen Valley, the “organic capital of Canada”. Bernadette is originally from Saskatchewan and grew up on an organic farm; she often remembers the words of her father—‘We can’t forget about our farmers and our land!’
Emily Danaher, Operations Assistant
Emily joined the Renewal team in June of 2015, bringing with her a strong belief that true success is based on the triple bottom line. Her background in general and administrative roles, along with extensive volunteer and work experience in values-based organizations, including the United Way, makes her a great fit for our team. Emily holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University, and continues to study Sustainable Development through elective coursework. Renewal Funds’ appeal to Emily is our strong environmental and social mission, an area of business that she strongly supports.
Elyse Crowston, Executive Assistant
Elyse is the newest member of the Renewal team, having joined us in November of 2015. Elyse’s passion for impact investing comes from the strong belief that economics and ecology are inherently linked, that dividing the two does not benefit people nor business. Elyse came to Renewal Funds after years of working with our environmental allies, Ecojustice. In addition to her years of fundraising and marketing experience, Elyse has a strong background in client relations and event management, with an emphasis on sustainability. Elyse holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of British Columbia in Environmental Geography, with a minor in Mandarin.
Renewal Funds invests in early growth stage companies in Canada and the United States. We add value to entrepreneurs through capital, expertise and our networks. We target above market returns by investing in companies that advance meaningful solutions. Paul Richardson and Joel Solomon make the final decisions, working with a stellar team of mission motivated professionals in a collaborative effort to find and support outstanding entrepreneurs.
Renewal Funds partners with entrepreneurs with strong values who have exceptional ideas, exceptional products and services aligned with our core values. Companies have a minimum $1 million in annual revenues and a compelling pathway to strong growth. We place minimum $1 million initial investment.
Our sectors are traditionally underserved but are now building momentum. We build 10 year funds that need a shared exit philosophy with our portfolio companies. We reserve capital for follow on investment to support the growth of our companies. We generally serve on the boards, bringing expertise and connections to add further value.
Renewal Funds grew out of a partnership between Carol Newell and Joel Solomon. They met through a network of people using wealth for the common good and saw business as a unique opportunity to create change.
In 1994, Carol and Joel assembled a team , joined by Paul Richardson in 2003, to operate the investment and philanthropic sister entities Renewal Partners and the Endswell Foundation. The model was a whole portfolio activation to mission by one woman’s family office. With a 50-year strategic outlook inspired by a 500-year vision, their central focus was on their home region of Vancouver and British Columbia, Canada. While investing through their larger networks across Canada and the USA, their aim was to model an integrated use of capital for long term change.
Renewal Partners has a 20+ year track record of aligning mission and purpose with successful debt and equity investments with entrepreneurs in an early triple bottom line model. Financial returns balance with positive community impacts and ecological intelligence.
The Endswell Foundation, founded and funded by Carol Newell, was an early pioneer in using mission related investment strategies from its core asset base. Endswell played a central role in the Great Bear Rainforest initiative, the largest conservation development transaction on the planet, where Paul Richardson served in a major role. Endswell actively engaged in social purpose real estate transactions in both rural and urban environments.
With Paul Richardson in the lead, along with Joel Solomon and Carol Newell as partners, Renewal Funds company was launched, inviting outside investors to join its pioneering work, now expanded across Canada and the United States.
To read stories from the Renewal Partners portfolio, please click here.
Our Sustainability Commitments
Long term societal sustainability is central to our business model.
Renewal Funds is a Canadian founding B Corporation. We are a Global Impact Investment Rating System (GIIRS) Pioneer Fund. For a number of years, we were named an Impact Assets 50 Manager. The
We are a 1% for the Planet member, donating 1% of management fees to environmental organizations. Renewal Funds is a Living Wage Employer and was named Best in the World for Workers by B Lab in 2014 and 2015.