I recently interviewed Tina Crouse, Strategist and Principal of Thornbury Communications and Head of the Ottawa Chapter of Women in Leadership. Tina is also producing a documentary on Canadian women in social finance (you’ll learn more about this film later in this post and I’m honoured to be one of the women Tina chose to profile). I know that she has an interest in impact investing, so I wanted to find out more about what she’s learned through her investing activities.
About Tina Crouse
As the Head of Women in Leadership Ottawa, she creates platforms to inspire and celebrate women’s success. Tina has worked in the non-profit and small business sectors for more than 20 years and began focusing on Public and Private Sector Relations including Program Investment, Fundraising and Business Development in 2008. She is a coach in alternative financing and social enterprise development and is producing a documentary on 10 of Canada’s outstanding female leaders in impact investing. Among her accomplishments, Tina was the creator and host of Canada’s first digital radio program dedicated to social finance – ‘So Fine Canada’ in 2011 and the creator of Canada’s first ‘Women in Social Business Forum’ in 2013. In 2014, she also created the Fascinating Women Series with live interviews of extraordinatry women in Ottawa and in 2015, she was part of the team that developed the Mentor STEM Leaders program, also a first in Canada.
Bonnie Foley-Wong: Are you investing in any private ventures at the moment or have you in the past?
Tina Crouse: I have a stock portfolio that is mostly filtered to support various business sectors such as the environment and cleantech, healthcare improvements, seniors and innovative Canadian businesses not involved in harmful commerce such as banking disruptors.
BFW: What are your “must-ask” questions when evaluating an opportunity?
TC: The top three questions I ask are:
- How much stock do employees and owners have in the company. If employees or the company’s leadership are selling their shares, that’s a bad sign.
- Is new business being announced? Approvals. New contracts. Strategic partnerships. What new thing is the company working on and is it worthy of additional investment?
- Where is the company operating outside of Canada and what is the news from that country and how are they functioning? For example, I do not put money into the clothing apparel industry due to all the complicated and often harmful impacts of this industry, although I am paying attention to innovations in the industry and I support the upcycling trends.
BFW: Can you share a story of the best or worst investment decision you ever made and what you learned from the experience?
TC: My best and worst investing both came from the solar industry. In 2007, I became interested in a Canadian solar company that was also operating in Germany. It announced 3 new factories being built due to contracts. It was solar and I wanted to support that sector. What happened though was the crash in 2008 coupled with a glut of producers storming the market caused a sharp decrease in price for solar products. Within a year, the company was bankrupt and the stock stopped trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. While what happened to the solar industry was not foreseen by analysts or investors and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being frightened by my own lack of judgment. In late 2013, I began pushing myself to get over the loss and get back to investing in solar. In early 2014, solar stocks began going through the roof. It was a confluence of activity coming from outside of Canada and progress made in the industry.
“I made a lot of money as well as supporting positive change, which I believe is the point of impact investing”
BFW: What other exciting things are you working on at the moment?
TC: Right now, I am fundraising for a documentary on 10 Canadian women who accomplished the ‘firsts’ in impact investing. It’s called SKIRTS! Canadian Women in Social Finance.
There is so much to learn from women in social finance and so much that Canada has to be thankful for in regards to the development and accomplishments in impact investing.
I want to tell the story of the strong female leadership that has existed in Canada for 3 decades, far longer than anyone knew. I want to outline how we arrived where we are today. It was through the efforts of these remarkable women, so they are our past, our present, and our future. That is a fabulous story! You can learn more about the campaign here http://igg.me/at/SKIRTSdoc/x/8930209
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Or contact me about getting an impact audit of your current portfolio and find out how to #maketheshift to more impactful investing. Email me at bonnie [at] piqueventures.com.