Social Enterprise Funding Support Grows
8 October 2014 at 10:36 am
Three years after it launched, a Federally supported organisation that provides loans to social enterprises has grown to have commitments worth more than $7 million.
Chief Executive of Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) Ben Gales said just one year ago his group only had two loans on their books, with their success showing that their model of funding was the way of the future.
“We are now having great impact helping our borrowers to make a difference in the social, environmental and Indigenous communities in which they operate,” Gales said.
SEFA was founded in August 2011 with a $10 million grant from the Commonwealth Social Enterprise Development Investment Fund (SEDIF) matched with $10 million raised from private investors.
Their founding partners include NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Community Sector Banking and Triodos Bank of the Netherlands.
SEFA says it has just funded three new loans, supporting Indigenous employment and training in Cairns, crisis accommodation in Caboolture, and mental health assistance on the NSW Central Coast.
“Only 12 months ago we had two loans on our books, now we have eight, with loans and commitments worth $7.5 million. We are also looking at a pipeline of lending opportunities worth $15million,” Gales said.
Gales said SEFA was established to provide loans to build and strengthen social enterprise.
“Our focus is social impact, and we support social entrepreneurs and community enterprises that use the power of business to drive social, cultural and environmental change,” he said.
“We add a social dimension to finance and tailor solutions to match the unique circumstances of our borrowers, many of whom would find it difficult to obtain a loan from mainstream financial institutions.”
The organisation lends to a wide range of enterprises including affordable housing, disability services, youth outreach, renewable energy, employment assistance, arts and culture.
Gales said the biggest hurdle to SEFA was selling a new idea to investors.
“It was accepted quite slow in the beginning, but now we appear to be hitting our stride,” he said.
“You should never be happy with where you are, but compared to 12 months ago we have come a long way.
“We don’t want to stop at being a $20 million fund. We believe we can continue to grow because we are servicing an under-resourced sector.”
He said that while SEFA was growing rapidly, it was the organisations it supported that were making real differences.
“SEFA itself doesn’t have any impact at all, it is our organisations that have the impact,” he said.
“We simply enable them to have greater impact.”