First Australians Capital

Purpose-driven capital is empowering Indigenous-led businesses to grow and thrive.

Grant Type
Community
Focus
Economic Empowerment
Date
2022
Partner

The key to a micro or small business moving to the next stage lies in capital, good advice, and support. And when that business is Indigenous-led, it’s important to nurture and develop relationships and benefits for the entire community.

First Australians Capital (FAC) meets these needs by providing First Nations-led business with advisory support and access to financial capital support services. In 2023, Bennelong Foundation contributed to FAC’s Seed Fund, which, unlike most traditional forms of capital, accepts disproportionate risk or concessionary return to generate positive impact.

“We have two main philosophies at FAC: right capital and right support,” says Tiarne Shutt, Director of Business Development at FAC.

The ‘right capital’ addresses the problem that traditionally First Nations businesses struggle to access appropriate finance from mainstream lenders. About 70% of Indigenous businesses supported by FAC would not otherwise have been able to secure mainstream finance.

“Because of the cultural context Indigenous people exist in, there is a bias, and some people view Indigenous people as inherently risky,” Tiarne says. “We’re not. But it comes from what we’ve seen in the media, how Indigenous people are represented, and the lack of Indigenous entrepreneurship.”

The ‘right support’ is where FAC focuses most of its energy. When a business approaches FAC for support, the first step is the ‘investment readiness’ process. At this stage, the business works one-on-one with FAC’s business advisory team to get it in the best possible position to take on finance. This can include sense-checking business forecasts or legal support.

If FAC can validate the business model, understand the entrepreneur and see a high chance of success, it provides finance and support. In many cases, this has multiplier effect for the business’ growth. In 2023, there was a 36% increase in employment in businesses funded by FAC.

FAC likes to say it “moves at the speed of trust”, which is a novel approach for the finance and business sector.

“Trust is built through action,” Tiarne says. “We’re not trying to get our money out the door and earn. We’re trying to put the business in the best position possible, which really flips what mainstream finance does. Of course, we need to deploy our money, but not at the expense of the business.”

FAC works with a range of businesses across different industries, but it focuses on areas where First Nations people have a cultural competitive advantage, like industries that are linked to First Nations knowledge systems.

“Native botanicals, native grains and native foods are directly linked to our knowledge systems because of our connection to land,” Tiarne says.

“We don’t want our knowledge to be profited off by other people who don’t have that connection - we’re trying to drive investment into industries like aquaculture, agribusiness, renewable markets, tourism, the arts and how art translates into fashion.

“Our organisation – even though it’s providing finance and business advice – links back to that cultural connection we have as being in relationship with each other.”

Read more about First Australians Capital here.

Impactful results

The Benefit

First Australians Capital has enabled indigenous-led business owners to participate in employment opportunities.

Outcome

Better access to the training and capital Indigenous business owners need to become self-supporting.

Outcome

More opportunities for Indigenous business owners to learn, work and connect with others, and to have a voice.

We don’t want our knowledge and our connection to be profited off by other people who don’t have that connection. We’re trying to drive investment into industries like aquaculture, agribusiness, renewable markets, and tourism.

Tiarne Shutt

Director of Business Development, First Australians Capital

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