Connect with us


Great interview Sévrine Labelle, CEO of Evol | Financing inclusive and responsible development



Founded 25 years ago to financially support and promote female entrepreneurship in all regions of Quebec, the Femmessor organization expanded its field of action in 2021 while changing its name to Evol. The organization now finances companies with diversified and inclusive ownership that have a positive human and environmental impact, explains its CEO Sévrine Labelle.

Femmessor was born on the North Shore in 1995, with the creation by a group of entrepreneurs of an initial investment fund of $50,000 to support women who wanted to launch or grow their business.

The initiative was quickly replicated in all 17 regions of Quebec while being financially supported by the Ministry of Economic Development.

In 2016, Femmessor set up an initial investment fund of 19 million thanks to the financial participation of Investissement Québec and Fondaction de la CSN, which each invested 8 million.

“In 2018, we undertook a strategic reflection after realizing that there were many categories of entrepreneurs who were under-represented as women were,” explains Sévrine Labelle, CEO of Evol since 2017.


Sévrine Labelle, CEO of Evol, when the company was called Femmessor, in 2018.

We decided to broaden our mandate and support diversity entrepreneurs, whether they are racialized people, immigrants, indigenous people, disabled people or the LGBTQ2+ community.

Sévrine Labelle, CEO of Evol

“We also decided to support companies whose actions are aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals,” says The beautiful.

This new strategy was implemented in September 2021 when Femmessor transformed into Evol, just after launching a new impact fund of 52.5 million thanks to the addition of new partners who joined Investissement Québec and Foundation.

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ, the National Bank and the BDC participated in the establishment of this new fund, which will allow the financing of multiple projects over the next five years.

A more inclusive economy

“From 2016 to 2021, we carried out with the fund of 19 million more than 300 financings of companies which were held at least 25% by women, details Sévrine Labelle. Financing to support start-ups, to generate growth or make an acquisition. »

“Our loans averaged $58,000, but could reach a maximum of $150,000. And 80% of the companies we have supported are still in business, which is higher than the national average which is 65%”, underlines the CEO of Evol.

With its new strategy of wider openness to minority groups, Evol partners with companies that intend to have a positive impact in society and that are eco-responsible.

Evol has financed companies such as OLA Bamboo, which used to make toothbrushes and other objects from bamboo and which now uses maple residues obtained from a company which manufactures guitars, or malterre, which manufactures crackers from craft beer spent grains.

Evol has also funded Latour residences, which want to specialize in housing seniors from the LGBTQ2+ community.

“We are an agent of change, we have a social and economic mission, and we have found financial partners who also want to transform society. Creating businesses to create businesses is no longer useful today. We have to build different models that take into account social, environmental and sound governance criteria,” explains Sévrine Labelle.

However, this investment theory did not rule out the initial mandate of the non-profit organization, which was to promote the emergence of women entrepreneurs and to aim for parity.

“The new generation is increasingly equal, as Réseau Mentorat demonstrated in a recent study, and we continue to participate in the arrival of women as business leaders since 90% of the projects we financed in 2021 had women in their shareholding”, points out the CEO of Evol.

projects and partners

Already, one year after the launch of the new impact fund of 52.5 million, Evol has carried out in 2022 for 9.2 million dollars of financing in more than sixty companies, of which 30% of the owners come from the indigenous, immigrant or disabled minorities.

The amount of loans granted to businesses is now higher since it can vary between $100,000 and $5 million. Typical businesses applying for financial assistance have between 5 and 20 employees and are mainly active in services, manufacturing, tourism and catering.


Sevrine Labelle

We currently have 150 projects in the pipeline and we are associated with 40 major national partners, whether Aboriginal groups or racialized minorities such as Groupe 3737 in Montreal North. Our funds are open to this diversity.

Sévrine Labelle, CEO of Evol

“What needs to be clarified is that we don’t just do financing,” says The beautiful. For each of our interventions, we provide support to the companies with which we intervene. »

“We even provide pre-financing support, particularly with start-ups to help entrepreneurs set up their business plan thanks to the support of the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation,” explains Sévrine Labelle.

The Evol group has a team of some 75 professionals and has offices in the 17 administrative regions of Quebec. The organization is completely decentralized and does not have a head office as such, all functions being distributed among the various regional offices.

“We were decentralized before the pandemic, so it was not a shock for us, telework,” says the CEO.

The next step in the deployment of Evol will be to achieve equity financing within five years, by taking equity stakes in companies that want this type of partnership. “It’s going to be patient capital. We are not looking for performance, but to make a difference,” says Sévrine Labelle.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *