Water Rangers Making Waves in British Columbia

By Kariann Aarup
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Water Rangers, the winner of the very first AquaHacking Challenge in 2015,  has been growing steadily ever since, successfully engaging citizens across Canada in connecting to their local watersheds through water quality monitoring.

Water Rangers is a small non-profit with a mighty mission of helping monitor the health of freshwater in Canada. With determination and focus, the team, led by founder Kat Kavanagh, has refined their water quality testing kits and built a user-friendly interactive platform for users to upload and share water quality data online. The tools and data-sharing platform offered by thousands of Canadians to engage in citizen science to monitor the quality of their local water bodies.

From their headquarters in Val-des-Monts, Quebec, this bold and transformative organization is expanding to British Columbia thanks to recently secured financing.  Yes – financing and not funding.  Water Rangers are among the latest cohort of enterprises to receive financial backing from Thrive Impact Fund (TIF).

TIF provides flexible and patient loans to help social enterprises grow, by removing barriers to capital for those traditionally overlooked by conventional lenders. The TIF acts as a positive platform for greater social and environmental impact.

“We are investing in Water Rangers to expand its model for citizen-led water testing and monitoring across BC. We are excited to support this highly impactful project, offering accessible water-quality monitoring tools and data systems to increase community knowledge and help advocate for protecting their waterways,” says Emeline Le Guen, TIF  Impact Investment Manager.

Receiving such financing is critical to an enterprise like Water Rangers, explains founder Kat Kavanagh. “We sell physical products as part of our mission and that means buying quite a bit of inventory. This working capital is so integral to keep our cashflow healthy as we grow. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to move out into B.C. in the way we’re able to now!

Alongside financing, Water Rangers will benefit from coaching and peer-learning provided by TIF.  This new impact-first fund in BC is investing in high impact organizations and social enterprises through a mix of flexible and patient debt. This is a ground- breaking opportunity for early-growth social enterprises like Water Rangers.

Feedback from the AquaHacking Alumni network of 36 water tech start-ups across Canada confirms that the lack of more flexible, non-diluted funds is a significant obstacle to their growth.

We celebrate Water Rangers’ success and we salute TIF for its revolutionary approach in this sector. Innovative financial models that are impact-focused are a critical step to supporting the growth of early-stage water-tech start ups like Water Rangers.