In 2009 Leah Armstrong and Jocelyn King developed the idea for a Regional Indigenous Social Enterprise Hub (RISE) in the Hunter Valley of NSW. The pilot went on to be funded by DEEWR and successfully supported four local Indigenous Social Enterprises including Worimi Sand Dune Adventures, which is held up as best practice in Indigenous economic development.
Leah then moved on to further develop the idea of a national program. In September 2013 a two-year Indigenous Social Enterprise Fund (ISEF) pilot fund was launched as a way to support Indigenous social enterprises (ISEs) develop to scale and sustainability through providing them with investment packages and business support. It was set up as a partnership between Social Ventures Australia (SVA), Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and Reconciliation Australia (RA). The pilot was implemented under the guidance of an Indigenous Advisory Group including.
Over the two-year life of the pilot, ISEF focused on working with Indigenous Social Enterprises to help them access this ISEF offering. The purpose of the pilot, however, went further than this. It also set out to better understand the ISE market and to document learnings as a way to assist the establishment of any future Indigenous-led funds.
This report provides an overview of the activities that were delivered through ISEF, highlighting that there is an appetite in the market for an ISEF-type offering that combines capital with capacity building. More importantly, however, it also shares some emerging themes and recommendations which may prove to be useful when considering what a future approach to supporting the growth and aspirations of the Indigenous Social Enterprise sector might entail.
You can download the full report here:
What was overwhelmingly apparent from the ISEF pilot was the need for a non-government Indigenous led organisation that could provide Capital and Business Support in an efficient and effective manner. It was this overwhelming need that birthed the establishment of First Australians Capital.