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Ethical Property Australia Grows Fund to $26M Through a New Deal

24 August 2016 at 11:43 am
Ellie Cooper
A newly-purchased building in Canberra has grown Ethical Property Australia’s fund to $26 million, 260 times its seed funding.

Ellie Cooper | 24 August 2016 at 11:43 am


Ethical Property Australia Grows Fund to $26M Through a New Deal
24 August 2016 at 11:43 am

A newly-purchased building in Canberra has grown Ethical Property Australia’s fund to $26 million, 260 times its seed funding.

View of Canberra CBD where Ethical Property Australia has purchased a new building

The acquisition of Endeavour House marks the social businesses’ second purchase, following on from Donkey Wheel House in Melbourne which is home to a “social impact community” including The Difference Incubator (TDi), STREAT and Kinfolk Cafe.

Endeavour House will similarly be a hub for organisations with social or environmental impact, and independent think tank The Australia Institute has signed on as the first tenant.

“The focus of Endeavour House is to enable organisations who are not currently based in Canberra to have a base there, but also to really access the corridors of power through the networks that they’ll create in that building,” Ethical Property Australia CEO Peter Allen told Pro Bono Australia News.

“And so we see it in terms of what it can achieve, but it actually could be quite substantial and game changing as a result of the networks in that property, organisations in Melbourne and Sydney and elsewhere are able to actually affect policy before it gets made rather than always having to react once it’s been made.”

Ethical Property Australia, a joint venture between Donkey Wheel Trust and the UK-based Ethical Property Company, raises social impact investment to purchase and refurbish properties to deliver a financial, social and environmental return.

Ethical Property received a $100,000 grant from NAB’s Impact Investment Readiness Fund to work with TDi to build out the model and establish the fund in a form that would be most attractive to investors.

“The Ethical Property deal is a really solid example of why NAB set up the Impact Investment Readiness Fund in the first place,” TDi co-founder and CEO Bessi Graham told Pro Bono Australia News.

“Ethical Property wasn’t in a position to pay that kind of money to help to get them ready to take on investment, and most organisations in the social sector aren’t in that space where they can pay for the kind of capacity building or technical assistance that’s required to fill the gaps in your business model or structure things to be able to then take on investment, so really it’s a story of leverage there of the grant.

“It’s not so much that you can start a business with $100,000 and turn it into $26 million, it’s a grant that came into Ethical Property that allowed them to get that help to then be able to be in a position to take on further investment. So it’s exciting in the magnitude of that leverage, 260 times leverage is very good on all international standards for those types of funds.”

Graham said it would now be easier for Ethical Property to grow further.

“The first deal or setting up of the fund is that foot in the door that allows the next deal to be easier,” she said.

“And one of the things that Peter had identified as quite challenging was the timing of trying to align getting investors on board, getting the right tenants and finding the right property at the same time, which was a big focus of the challenge of setting up this fund.

“But the structure is set up, it’s got current buildings in the mix, and it allows the ability to be able to be quite responsive to opportunity now that he didn’t have before, so I think what it has unlocked and made possible now for future deals … Ethical Property Australia is now in a really good position to grow from this point on.”

Allen, already looking at next projects, said he was currently talking to organisations in Sydney.

“There’s quite a lot of interest from tenants there because we always start with the tenants rather than the buildings, and so we’re putting together a bit of a list of organisations who may want to co-locate in the CBD fringe, mostly, currently environmental and campaigning groups, but we’re interested to hear from anyone interested in doing something in Sydney,” he said.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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