How We Charity made millions selling buildings for a penny a square foot

Written by Laura Hudson, CNN Toronto, Canada We Charity raised millions of dollars for Children’s Aid over the last 20 years by selling buildings downtown Toronto for about $1 a square foot, at a…

How We Charity made millions selling buildings for a penny a square foot

Written by Laura Hudson, CNN Toronto, Canada

We Charity raised millions of dollars for Children’s Aid over the last 20 years by selling buildings downtown Toronto for about $1 a square foot, at a time when real estate values downtown were skyrocketing.

The real estate nonprofit, now known as Onex Real Estate Investments , was originally founded in 1998 to build a network of 300-350 “participants” with the sole purpose of buying buildings for a small profit and then quickly expanding the network so that every member could be part of one property. The company helped 80 young women get jobs after they completed We Charity’s unique 10-week program.

Once created, they would then sell those buildings to a large-scale development group for big bucks. According to spokesperson Rina Carusone, those small profits were donated back to young women in need as a result of the program.

Not all of the properties, however, ended up being donated. In 2008, two of the properties ended up being bought back by their original owner for way more than what they were originally purchased for — causing a headache for investors of We Charity. We Charity bought back the properties, but at much less than their price point originally, Carusone says.

Still, the deals proved profitable and over the next 20 years the real estate company was able to continue giving proceeds back to charity.

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