MEDF was created by the MMF and Province of Manitoba in 2012 and holds a 27.25 % equity share in Voyageuer. Fund CEO John Coutris explains that Voyageur Internet fit perfectly with their goals by investing in “a unique company in a unique sector, that provides a service that beyond major centres, enhances rural communities where so many Metis people live.” He explained, “Our funding assists in start-up, acquiring other businesses, and economic growth, we can incubate new enterprises. Through the MMF, procurement opportunities with government contracts can arise for our investee companies to bid on and grow.”
Coutris has a personal connection to Jeff, as he was the Klause family banker years ago.
“Jeff and I first had a discussion in 2013 about the role MEDF can play and we are proud to have Voyageur Internet as one of our four investee companies. We want to give him a chance to compete and especially to grow outside Winnipeg. Jeff is one to listen and provide feedback. On the panel he was very willing to offer his experience and advice, and with business leaders like him we are creating a community-mentorship of Metis innovators.”
One of the conference attendees, James Fyke of Thompson, echoes the accolades Coutris proclaims about Klause.
“When he speaks, you have no choice but to listen,” said the young owner of James Fyke Land Services. “ I met Jeff at the conference and he told at the panel session how he came up through the ranks to get where he is, all the hard work he put in, he’s like a rock star.”
“Jeff hit on key themes, I was enthralled by the way he described things and was able to speak in a way everyone can understand.”