Indigenous Social Enterprise Fund Lessons Learned Report

The two-year Indigenous Social Enterprise Fund (ISEF) pilot fund was launched in September 2013 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).

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.

Download the ISEF Lessons Learned Report (PDF, 1MB)

What next?

If your organisation is looking for funding or support, please consider the following information we have compiled.

Investment and Loan Funding

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA)

IBA’s Business Development and Assistance Program assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop pathways to own or grow viable businesses.  The program provides concessional business loans of up to $2 million, as well as introductory business skills training through IBA’s ‘Into Business Workshops’, and access to business advice. For more information, contact IBA on 1800 108 108.

First Australians Capital (FAC)

FAC is a new Indigenous-led organisation in development with Social Venture Australia’s support. FAC will, upon its establishment in 2016, provide concessional capital and capability support to Indigenous social-purpose enterprises and social entrepreneurs. FAC’s services to enterprises will comprise capacity building, access to networks and development finance, with dedicated relationship management. For more information contact Adrian Appo at or 0418 305 974.

The Social Enterprise Development and Investment Funds

The funds improve access to finance and support for social enterprises to help them grow their business and increase the impact of their work in their communities, to the value of $1 million. For more information on SVA’s Social Impact Fund, contact Alex Oppes on (03) 8688 0054 or

Many Rivers Microfinance

Many Rivers Microfinance supports aspiring business owners with microenterprise development support and access to finance. They offer localised support in NSW, WA and QLD. For more information contact the regional officers or (02) 9217 1067.



Westpac Foundation

Westpac Foundation has social enterprise start-up grants of up to $100,000. For more information contact Lisa Waldron on 0402 797 654 or

National Australian Bank (NAB)

NAB’s Impact Investment Readiness Fund offers grants of up to $100,000 to purchase specialised capability building support from providers (eg advisory, financial, legal) towards investment. For more information, contact Matt Taylor on 0437 956 159 or


Capability Support

Social Ventures Australia (SVA)

SVA’s venture philanthropy offers deep support, investment funds and advisory services to social-purpose organisations to increase their impact. For more information, contact David Williams on 02 8004 6745.

Indigenous Community Volunteers

Offers a national network of skilled volunteers to provide practical, hands-on help. For more information, contact Stephanie Harvey on


Jawun offers a partnerships model to engage corporate skills and capacity in Indigenous organisations in eight regions across Australia. For more information, contact or (02) 8253 3619 to be put through to the appropriate regional manager.

The Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI)

AIGI connects Indigenous groups, individuals and organisations to expertise and knowledge, to build effective and legitimate governance on the ground. For more information contact Lara Drieberg on 0498 880 025.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the Indigenous Social Enterprise Fund (ISEF)?

The ISEF, created through $1 million of Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) funding, provided investment and business support to Indigenous social enterprises.  All investments were made with a view to develop and nurture commercially focused Indigenous social enterprises so that they can successfully access further investment (such as SEDIF, IBA or mainstream finance in the future).

We are a corporate/company or government agency and we want to know more about how we can support the development of social enterprises.

If you are a corporate/company or government agency and would like information about how you can support the development of Indigenous social enterprise in Australia please contact Alex Oppes on 03 8688 0054 at SVA.

How do I become a pro bono or financial supporter of social enterprises?

Pro bono supporters provide invaluable support to social enterprises. If you would like to offer your skills, advice and expertise to support the social enterprise sector in Australia please contact Alex Oppes on 03 8688 0054 at SVA to see how you can get involved.

Many social enterprises rely on financial investment from philanthropists, corporate organisations or government before becoming financially sustainable. The ISEF is designed to provide social enterprises with seed and/or growth funding, however many of these enterprises will require further financial support or matched funding. SVA aims to work with philanthropic and corporate organisations to develop investment and co-investment opportunities to support the continued establishment and growth of the social enterprise sector in Australia. For further information please call Nicolas Deloux on 02 8004 6744 or Alex Oppes on 03 8688 0054.