Zooshare and how you can invest in waste
Tell us about ZooShare, what you do, the social/environmental issues you set out to solve, and the business model you’re using to make it work.
When most people think of greenhouse gases and global warming, they think the culprits are smoke stacks and traffic…Few people realize that Canadians waste $31B worth of food every year, and that in a landfill, this food waste releases methane (21x worse than C02) and contributes to climate change. At ZooShare, we are trying to show people that there is no such thing as waste—only wasted resources. Our project will be North America’s 1st zoo-based biogas plant—it will turn poo from Toronto Zoo and local food waste into power for the Ontario grid. The plant will generate enough power for 250 homes every year and will reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 10,000 tonnes of C02 annually. What’s left over is a nutrient rich fertilizer, which will be used for growing plants and vegetables. To fund this project we are leveraging our local supporters: Last year we sold out of $2.2M worth of bonds (that will be used for construction, beginning this May). Now, we are offering another set of bonds that earn 5% each year for 5 years (we’ve already sold over a quarter million). These bonds will be used to pay back a construction loan from our technology partner after the biogas plant is built, so there’s no construction risk.
How can individuals invest in ZooShare? (Can anyone invest or do you have to be a qualified investor?)
Anyone can invest in ZooShare: individuals, corporations or foundations…As long as they reside in Ontario and become a member of our co-op (which costs $10). The bonds can be purchased online at www.zooshare.ca, or you can download a form from our website and mail in a cheque.
What are the terms of the investment?
Funds will be held in escrow until construction is complete in December 2016 (earning 0.5% interest), at which point the 5% interest and 5-year term begin. The accrued interest from the escrow account will be paid out with the first annual 5% payment. The bonds purchased through this offering will rank equally with each other, but behind all previously issued bonds and any Senior Debt Financing.
Is the investment RRSP or TFSA eligible?
ZooShare bonds are not eligible for an RRSP/TFSA account at the current time. They will most likely be eligible once construction is complete. At that time, an independent valuation by a financial services company will be used to underwrite a legal opinion that ZooShare bonds are eligible and this legal opinion will be available for anyone who would like to transfer their bonds into a registered account, however, there is no guarantee that your financial institution will allow you to hold them in your registered account.
Have you measured the impact of your work up to now and could you tell us about this?
We haven’t measured the impact of our work, but we do see our work as part of the growing Responsible Investment/Impact Investment movement. More and more people want to align their portfolios with their values…What better way to do that than supporting the mission of a local renewable energy project? One of our members, Don, describes ZooShare in this way: “ For us [owning a ZooShare bond] wasn’t as much about the return as much as it was about being a part of an innovative, creative and positive environmental project with high-visibility: We like that [the ZooShare biogas plant] will be in a public place (at the Zoo) where millions of people will see how energy is produced. It will trigger thoughts about how energy is made and consumed. I know we’ll be taking our grandkids to the Zoo again, and we’ll be able to point to the plant and say, ‘we helped to make that happen’ and ‘we can make the world a better place’.