Giving Students Money to Invest in Impact: Steve Petterson – Episode 010

by | Feb 3, 2020 | Podcast

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Steve Petterson jumped straight out of school and dove into impact investing. Not long after he started his own nonprofit to give students the experience and exposure to impact he wishes he had. This conversation (and everything Steve is doing) got me fired up and inspired because I came from a similar situation. I too was introduced to the world of social enterprises from a wonderful teacher who went out of her way to mention it outside of the normal class. And to his point, we need more conscious education around social impact and impact investing in post-secondary education.

In this interview, we talk about the inspiration for the program, the experience of going through that beta test in the first year, the incredible impact that it can have on student empowerment, as well as amazing impact. We also talk about why they became a nonprofit, and how their model for impact investing is slightly different than a “traditional” investment fund.

About Steve Petterson & The National Social Value Fund

Steve is the Executive Director of the National Social Value Fund. The National Social Value Fund is a Canadian endeavor to support high-impact, under-served social enterprises in communities across the nation. NSVF provides impact-adjusted financing to social purpose organizations through a youth-led, experiential learning model. Steve has been building the National Social Value Fund in Vancouver for the past two years alongside local aligned partners and in 2019 helped to launch four new social value fund locations in Calgary, Montreal, London, and Kingston.

Find Steve on LinkedIn

Find NSVF on their website:

Find NSVF on Instagram: @nationalsvf

Find NSVF on Twitter: @nationalsvf

Everything We Talked About on This Episode 

[02:23] What brought Steve Petterson into finance in the first place

[03:07] How a class in University exposed Steve Petterson to social impact

[05:45] What the National Social Value Fund does and how it’s different than other impact investing firms

[07:34] Steve said he was frustrated at how universities were teaching impact investing and entrepreneurship, or rather, how they weren’t

[08:08] What made you think you could do this? Right out of University, most people go looking for a job

[10:16] The first test, trying out 8 students together and give them money to invest, full responsibility

[12:20] We wanted a diversity of students, faculty agnostic to have different viewpoints

[14:37] The capital for the first year came from Helder Ventures, and mentor Barend van der Vorm

[15:39] Quote: “Trust Is Given, Not Earned” – from Steve’s mentor

[18:00] First investment was ChopValueFelix Bock

[19:12] Second Investment, This Fish, transitioning paper to digital in fishing management

[19:40] Third Investment, CleanStart, a cleaning company that hires people with barriers

[20:49] Dylan Goggs, founder of CleanStart

[23:10] Given that we’re not really educating on social impact and impact investing, what was the feedback like from students?

[24:48] How this experience shifts the mindset of students, and the lens they put on their career

[26:12] Steve is hopeful that post-secondary programs will begin to incorporate more social impact focus

[28:37] Quote in relation to our education system: “The piece that is so far away from where it needs to be is the empowerment piece” – Steve Petterson

[30:30] The conversations with investors aren’t actually as hard as you’d think, the model is proven, it’s more about what type of investments are going to be made

[34:07] How does this type of investment compare to philanthropy?

[38:42] Why the nonprofit model was beneficial for the NSVF

[41:00] How they’re in the process of starting funds in Montreal, Calgary, London, Kingston

[45:25] Comparison of the model to Felix’s micro-factory model with ChopValue

[47:17] Steve’s advice to other social entrepreneurs, and nonprofit leaders: spend time learning about yourself

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