Introducing Deetken Horizon, the machine intelligence team at The Deetken Group

For many of us the term “artificial” or “machine” intelligence conjures up images of kind-hearted Sonny from I, Robot or the deceptively doe-eyed Dolores from Westworld. For some, an AI/MI future is dark, even apocalyptical, with aggressive machines taking over the world and relegating us to second class citizens… or worse.  For others, AI/MI promises a future utopia where daily drudgeries are performed by robots and humans are left to explore higher pursuits.

Whether we like it or not (or we’re just not sure what to think), machine intelligence is already a big part of our lives. (Learn more about MI in everyday life by reading one of our blogs.)

“Machine intelligence” refers to processes where computers perform some of the cognitive functions that we typically associate with the human mind, like learning, reasoning, and problem solving.  

In the way that tractors, assembly lines and robots have automated the agriculture and manufacturing industries, machine intelligence holds unprecedented opportunities to bring automation to the services industries.  This can help organizations work better, faster and cheaper.

The Deetken Group is proud to introduce Deetken Horizon, our machine intelligence team.  Deetken Horizon uses machine intelligence tools and techniques to harness the potential of automation for services industries, like healthcare, insurance, finance and law.

We have used MI to help clients improve their customer service and retention; to accelerate their sales to cash cycle; to reduce financial, operational and occupational safety risks; to measure the effectiveness of partners and suppliers; to free up time to work on high value activities; and, ultimately, to make better decisions, faster. 

The Deetken Horizon team is excited to tell you about our work. Click here to watch our latest video and to learn more about who we are and what we do.  You can also visit our MI webpage on The Deetken Group's website for more information about our team and some of our recent projects.

Ready to make a DIFference? Deetken Impact Fund teams with Frontfundr to make it easier than ever for Canadians to invest in impact

 

Deetken Asset Management is excited to announce that Deetken Impact Bonds* are now available on the Frontfundr platform. This means that investors from across Canada can use their savings to benefit communities in Latin America and the Caribbean while earning market-based returns.

Deetken Impact Bonds are used to support a portfolio of exceptional businesses that are committed to our impact goals: decent work and economic growth, affordable and clean energy, good health and well-being and quality education for all. Examples of DIF’s investments include:

  • Financial services NGO in Ecuador, providing loans to help entrepreneurs rebuild after a devastating earthquake
  • Small run-of-river hydro project in Peru, adding clean energy to the grid with minimal adverse environmental impacts
  • Micro and small enterprise lending in Argentina, offering vital health services and business training alongside business loans

Frontfundr is an innovative platform that offers regular investors access to private market opportunities like the Deetken Impact Bonds.

If you’re ready to make a DIFference, check out our campaign on Frontfundr today!

* Deetken Impact Bonds are issued by Deetken Impact Investment Corp., a feeder vehicle for the Deetken Impact Fund. Please be aware that investments of this nature carry risks to your capital as well as potential returns. Please read all investor materials before deciding to invest. You can also learn more about informed investing on InvestRight, a program of the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC).

      Written by Alexa Blain, Chief Operating Officer of Deetken Asset Management Inc.

Deetken joins the B Corp Movement

At Deetken Asset Management, we are committed to identifying and supporting companies that generate sustainable returns while making a meaningful, positive contribution to their communities. Pursuing more than one “bottom line” is core to our business model and our investment philosophy.

That’s why we decided to become a Certified B Corporation.

Certified B Corporations are a new type of company which use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification to milk.

We are proud to join a growing community of over 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries who have voluntarily chosen to conduct business in a way that creates value for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. In Canada, Certified B Corps include a diverse range of businesses from coffee roasters and sustainable food providers to major banks and media companies.

To become a Certified B Corporation, Deetken Asset Management participated in a rigorous evaluation process. Because most business decisions have the potential for positive impact, our operations were assessed from end to end, from our governance framework to the way we treat our workers to our environmental impact. We achieved a particularly high score on our practice of investing in businesses which have a proven and deliberate strategy to benefit the communities in which they operate, by promoting entrepreneurship or increasing access to renewable energy, affordable housing or education.

“The B Corp movement is a tremendous force for changing the way that the world does business,” said Alexa Blain, Chief Operating Officer of Deetken Asset Management. “The ultimate goal is to encourage companies to grow in a way that creates shared and durable prosperity for all. It’s a natural fit for Deetken to join this collective movement. The assessment process provided us with a new lens on our business, and we look forward to continuing to drive best practices alongside this global community of like-minded companies.”

Using Business as a Force for Good.jpg

For more information on B Corporations, visit www.bcorporation.net.

For more information on Deetken Asset Management, visit www.deetken.com.

Fundación Covelo and DAMI: Making a Difference in Central America

On October 28th 1998, Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras and caused the worst flooding the country has experienced in close to 100 years.  In addition to claiming thousands of lives and destroying an estimated 35,000 homes, Mitch decimated one of the main markets in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital.

In the aftermath of the disaster, most lending institutions were reluctant to provide credit to businesses that relied on a market that had been destroyed. How would these businesses repay loans, they asked, without a market to sell their products?  Without these loans, people would not be able to restart their businesses, making the impact of the hurricane even more devastating.

Fortunately, one organization was willing to provide this much needed credit. This was Fundación Covelo (“Covelo”), a pioneer of microfinance in Central America.

Today, Covelo functions as a second level institution and facilitates US$ 31.7 Million in loans to 40 microfinance institutions, which in turn serve close to 300,000 clients in rural Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. Covelo’s support targets low-income, mostly rural households. More than 53% of Covelo’s clients are women.

Covelo has had a catalytic impact on the microfinance sector in Honduras.

The foundation has supported the drafting and approval of regulatory laws for the sector and promoted a new field of study at the national university focused on building a technical career in microfinance.

Through its MFI clients, Covelo provides or supports a range of services that have a social and/or environmental impact. These include, among other areas of focus, providing credit to micro, small and medium enterprises, including rural businesses; supporting social housing; and offering micro-insurance. 

In addition, Covelo is one of the few providers of student loans. It has not only promoted the creation of a specialized institution dedicated to educational loans but has also contributed its own funds to the project, targeting young students in Honduras in need of financial support in order to finish their studies and/or to progress to a higher or more specialized level of studies. Covelo has lent to approximately 800 low income students who have demonstrated high academic achievement.

Covelo is also committed to the generation of clean energy to serve the needs of non-electrified rural homes. An estimated 1.5 million people, approximately 30% of the rural population in Honduras, do not have access to the national electrical grid. The “Sol y Luz” (“Sun and Light”) project enables households to borrow US $ 1,000 to purchase a solar panel to generate electricity.  To date, Sol y Luz has provided electricity to over 750 families in Honduras and Nicaragua. This has allowed these families to extend their study or chore hours. It has also increased their access to radio and television as well as enabled them to charge cell phones and other electronic devices.  In short, Sol y Luz has helped increase productivity and made an enormous contribution to improving the quality of life for its beneficiaries. (Learn more about the Sol y Luz project by watching this video.)

At DAMI, we are very pleased to be in negotiations, together with Inter-American Development Bank, to provide subordinated loans to Covelo. Our contribution will help the Covelo team support the 40 microfinance institutions who with whom they work.

Learn more about Covelo by clicking here.

Video: Experience a typical day at The Deetken Group

At The Deetken Group, each day brings a new challenge.

Our management consulting team has a core set of skills - economic modelling and analysis, strategy development and planning, organizational design, advanced analytics, and other areas - to help clients solve complex problems. We've learned that no two problems are ever alike and we are constantly developing and refining our approaches to helping provide clients with the best possible solutions.

Our asset management team is now fully committed to impact investing in the areas of healthcare, clean renewable energy, small business and micro lending, and social housing with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. We recently launched the Deetken Impact Fund, one of the first impact funds in Canada with an international focus.

With so much going on, we've put together a short video so you could get to know us better. Click here to join us for "A Typical Day at The Deetken Group".

Deetken reflects on the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) Forum

Last month I attended the RIA Foundation & Endowment Forum in Toronto. The forum was hosted by the Responsible Investment Association (RIA), Canada's membership association for socially and environmentally responsible investment. It focused on responsible and impact investing through the incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

The event was run exceptionally well with informed and engaging speakers. Discussions surfaced some of the real issues that investors face in adopting an impact focus, including accessing investment vehicles that deliver commercial risk adjusted returns, provide liquidity, and deliver measurable impact.

As investors, these issues are front of mind for us at Deetken. I was encouraged to see that they are directly addressed by the Deetken Impact Fund (DIF), one of Canada's first registered international impact investment funds. I came home feeling even more confident that our approach with the DIF is something innovative and that the Fund is in uniquely positioned to meet the needs of other investors looking to tilt their portfolio towards an impact focus.

Of special note, we were pleased to attend as special guests of our new partner Oikocredit and look forward to the next RIA event in Vancouver in 2017.

Read more about Deetken Asset Management Inc. and the Deetken Impact Fund.

Written by Samir Shah, Managing Partner and Co-founder of The Deetken Group

Oikocredit and The Deetken Group announce exempt market dealing agreement

The Deetken Group (1) and Oikocredit have entered into an Exempt Market Dealing ("EMD") Services agreement to distribute Oikocredit's securities ("Depository Receipts") in several Canadian provinces, including, but not limited to, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. The sale of these securities will take place by way of private placements.

"We are pleased with the agreement to help Oikocredit as an Exempt Market Dealer in several Canadian provinces," said Samir Shah, Director of The Deetken Group, "There is a strong alignment between our organizations in terms of our focus on impact investments. Oikocredit is a global leader in this investment category, and The Deetken Group is committed to continue to strengthen commercial bonds with like-minded organizations. We see this agreement as part of our mission to improve access to impact investment products for Canadians."

"We see a lot of demand for impact investments that combat poverty and contribute to sustainability in developing countries," said Eugene Ellmen, Canadian Director for Oikocredit. "This agreement permits us to reach out to accredited investors across Canada to help meet this demand."

The Deetken Group is a management consulting and investment firm based in Vancouver, Canada. With close to a decade of active investing in impact-based organizations, The Deetken Group is a pioneer in the impact investment space in Canada. Through deep financial and strategic analysis, and strong local relationships in the countries we work in, we are able to generate sustainable, long-term returns on our investments.

Oikocredit has over 40 years' experience in funding to partner organizations active in inclusive finance (including microfinance), agriculture and renewable energy. Oikocredit's loans an investments enable people living on low incomes to sustainably improve their living standards. Oikocredit finances more than 780 partners in over 70 countries and its outstanding capital totals € 940 million.

(1) Deetken Asset Management Inc. is registered as an Exempt Market Dealer in the provinces it is distributing Depository Receipts.

For further information:

The potential of machine intelligence

What is machine intelligence?

For those of you that have an interest in the world of technology, whether personal or professional, you have almost certainly encountered the term “machine intelligence” in recent years.  Machine intelligence is not a new concept. In 1959, Arthur Samuel defined machine intelligence as “the ability of a machine to generalize knowledge from data without being explicitly programmed.” (1)  In other words, machine intelligence refers to the ability of a system to recognize patterns and to make predictions based on these patterns without human intervention. The computer “learns” by continuously gathering data to improve the accuracy of its predictions.  Since the term was coined, programs have been created that have simplified the use of machine intelligence, allowing machine intelligence tools to be widely applied to anything to do with the processing of data.

Many of us don’t realize that machine intelligence is a big part of our everyday lives. When ATMs are reading the written numbers on the cheques we deposit, Facebook is automatically tagging and identifying our friends and Siri is giving us those directions we asked for, we are seeing machine intelligence in action!

The potential of machine intelligence expands beyond the everyday.  IBM has created a robot named IBM Watson that is making groundbreaking progress in artificial intelligence. In 2011, IBM Watson competed on Jeopardy against former winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. IBM Watson had access to four terabytes of storage but no internet access -- and won! (2)  In other words, IBM Watson was able to identify the question being asked, predict what the best answer by running probabilities against storage data, and provide a verbal answer faster and with a greater degree of accuracy than the experts themselves.

Today, IBM Watson is learning how to identify objects using visual recognition, a machine intelligence application. Check out this video of IBM Watson using visual recognition to identify a hand of cards. (3) 

IBM is not the only company making breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. Google Glass has teamed up with Dapper Vision to design a product called OpenShades. (4) OpenShades uses speech recognition and text-to-speech machine intelligence applications to answer questions about the physical environment. For example, when shopping at the grocery store you can take a picture of the dairy section and ask, “where is the 2% milk?”.  OpenShades will send the photo to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace, and Twitter to ask the public for help and the answer is read out loud to the user. OpenShades has tested the base models on users to demonstrate how this technology can benefit people who are visually impaired.

Imagine combining the OpenShades product with IBM Watson’s visual recognition capacities to create a product that could give visually impaired individuals real-time answers about their physical environment.

We have only started to scratch the surface when it comes to the potential of machine intelligence. It may be that the only limiting factor to find new ways of applying machine intelligence techniques is our imagination!


(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_learning

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watson_(computer)

(3) https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson/2016/06/programming-robots-play-poker-one-summer-watson/

(4) http://www.openshades.com/

The Deetken Group welcomes Thomas Reimer to the team!

The Deetken Group is pleased to welcome Thomas (Tom) Reimer to the team.

Tom joined Deetken in mid-August as an Associate in our consulting group. He brings deep experience in applied advanced analytics and a strong skill set in data manipulation to the team. He has refined this expertise while working as a research assistant on various projects at the University of British Columbia (UBC), including a recent project focused on engineering a complex web scraping program.

Tom spends his free time hiking, backcountry skiing and volunteering in his community, including as a math tutor. He is also a member of the UBC’s Varsity Outdoors Club and Sailing Club. Tom has a BA in Economics and Math and a MA in Economics, both from UBC.

Check out Tom’s full bio in the About Us>Team section.

The Deetken Group welcomes Kelli Gruhl to the team!

The Deetken Group is pleased to welcome Kelli Gruhl to the team.

Kelli recently joined Deetken as Office and Communications Administrator. She brings significant experience from previous administration positions in the health sector, together with a unique perspective on communications and social media.

Kelli recently graduated from Queen’s University with a BSc in Biology and Health Studies. With a strong personal interest in business intelligence, Kelli is working towards building on her degree through data analytics studies. After living in Vancouver for about a year, Kelli has become a member of the Vancouver Women’s Australian Rules football league and spends her free time exploring the mountains in BC.

Check out Kelli's bio in the About Us>Team section our website, along with the rest of the Deetken team.  

The Deetken Group launches our new website

The Deetken team is proud to announce the launch of our new website: deetken.com

Many of you may be familiar with bits and pieces of our work. We are pleased that our new website brings together our diverse experience and skills and showcases the connections – and distinctions – between our consulting branch and our asset management division. Our news section offers a space to share reflections on what we are learning through the work we are doing. The Deetken Blog, updated regularly, provides snapshots of some of the exciting things we are thinking about or doing.

For us, this is more than a website. It’s the story of who we are – as a company and as individuals. Please visit often and share widely!

Deetken Impact Fund closes

Deetken Asset Management Inc. is pleased to announce the first close of the Deetken Impact Fund (or “DIF”) -- - one of Canada’s first registered international impact investment funds.

DIF aims to deliver strong, consistent returns by investing in exceptional businesses that promote entrepreneurship and improve access to basic services, including clean renewable energy, healthcare and affordable housing. 

It has a clear double/triple-bottom line mandate: to have a measurable positive social and/or environmental impact in the communities where it operates as well as yield market-based returns.

The Fund’s geographic focus is Latin America and the Caribbean, where Deetken Asset Management has a strong pipeline of investment opportunities in sustainable mid-sized projects and businesses.

“These mid-sized business, which are financially stable and often fall below the radar for larger funds, have a strong demand for capital combined with a need for customized technical assistance,” said José Lamyin, Chief Investment Officer. “We strongly believe that by investing in and collaborating with these businesses, we are helping to create new opportunities for growth and development in their communities.”

Alexa Blain, Chief Operating Officer, added: “We are tremendously excited to be offering Canadian and international investors the opportunity to invest in a truly unique portfolio of double or triple-bottom line investments. It’s an important step in our commitment to creating high quality impact investment products that are accessible to both large and small investors.”

DIF is domiciled in Canada and managed by Deetken Asset Management Inc., a registered Investment Fund Manager, Portfolio Manager and Exempt Market Dealer with the BC and Alberta Securities Commissions. 

Deetken Asset Management Inc. is a joint venture between The Deetken Group, a Vancouver–based asset management and business advisory firm, and Cooperativa Abaco, Peru’s largest credit union. Together, these founding partners bring decades of experience in impact investments across Latin America and North America.

Deetken writes and directs our first animated shorts!

You may not think that, as a management consulting and asset management company, Deetken would be in the animation business. Think again!

We recently completed a major project focused on improving employment outcomes for immigrants. As part of this project, Deetken developed three training modules (which can be accessed here) to help employment and settlement counsellors to improve employment outcomes for immigrants. To reinforce learning outcomes, Deetken developed animated shorts that tell the stories of two newcomers to Canada: Priya from India and Zeina from Syria.

Here’s a snapshot of each story:

Priya’s story

Priya has immigrated to Canada with her husband Ajay, who entered the country through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and their teenage son, Anil.  Priya’s story illustrates the mix of emotions she experiences leaving India and settling into life in a small town in northern BC. Priya’s story focuses on her quest to find employment and the support she receives from an Employment Services Centre and an Immigrant Settlement Organization. Priya’s story part one, can be found here and part two here.

Zeina’s story

Zeina had been living with her children in a refugee camp in Jordan when she was selected for the Canadian refugee program.  As Government-Assisted Refugees, she and her children receive Permanent Resident status upon their arrival in Canada. Zeina’s story tells of both the sense of loss and the relief she feels leaving Syria and settling in Burnaby. We accompany Zeina in her search for employment and get a glimpse into the support she receives along the way. Click here for part one of Zeina’s story and here for part two.