At TDi we dream of an economy that is worthy of the human spirit.
an economy that is inclusive, embraces diversity, shares prosperity and is sustainable.
Inequality is rising and our current economy is frankly unsustainable. This has threatened peace, deepened poverty & is fuelling our climate crisis. People don’t believe it’s possible to do good and make money.
We work with the difference makers to awaken the possibility of doing good and making money. We work to reclaim entrepreneurship and demonstrate new models. These are the seeds of a future economy.
TDi provides business modelling and social impact consulting for organisations looking to make a difference for people and the planet. As a group of creative practitioners, entrepreneurs & innovators we are driven by a deep belief in the power of business to achieve change.
We bring diverse voices together to generate and support new actions towards societal well-being. We believe that building more sustainable and equitable businesses not only addresses big societal issues, but also improves business performance.
We’re here to help business leaders to make that happen. Through strong impact driven business modelling and powerful conversations between the business, government and community we demonstrate that is not just possible to do good and make money, but that it makes good business sense.
We enter with curiosity and the courage to say ‘I don’t know’. We’re in constant search of better questions, finding our way on untraveled paths.
We cultivate connection through shared stories, truth spoken with kindness and humility. We believe in each person’s brilliance, we seek to draw out their magic and breathe life into the possibilities.
Pioneer a new way
We challenge givens, ‘too hards’, and ‘not possibles’. We pioneer new models. We inspire hope and possibility.
We work to reinvent the field, not just level it.
It’s the uncompromising pioneering spirit that will take us to places we don’t dare to dream about. We look for the win-win that does not require compromise on either side of the social or financial equation.
We are in the dirt and alongside in this pursuit of transformation. We bring people together to do this deep, immersive work to achieve sustainable business social impact and fulfilled lives.
We make things happen
We’re practitioner-led but systems savvy and can work across worlds. From the government office, corporate board room or remote community we know how to create solutions where everyone wins.
We’ve got the right mix of business & social impact
We’re creative innovators and number-crunchers all in one. We’re passionate about helping you create impact but have the investor mind-set to reality check it.
We live and operate in an era that requires great acts of bravery, creativity and fresh approaches to entrenched social problems.
TDis founders Bessi Grahame & Paul Steele, demonstrated these qualities from our inception & were driven by a desire to change the game around capacity building for social entrepreneurs. The TDi journey began with donkey wheel foundation having a desire to align their granting & investment strategies and invest in the types of organisations they’d typically grant to. They quickly recognised a gap in the market to bring these two worlds together. This was TDi’s birthplace and has become its foundation and purpose to prove out new models to deliver real value to people, planet & the economy. Today we call this Blended Value.
We initially embarked on this journey in 2010 as a project of donkey wheel foundation supported by the Sidney Myer Foundation, and the McKinnon Family Foundation.
We later evolved into a separate organisation, growing and refining our own business model. The first group we worked with was Streat Café helping them build out a Café model to engage homeless and disenfranchised young people.
This work lead to one of Australia’s first impact investment deals where 5 pioneering investors came together to accelerate this model forward. Our early story revolved strongly around how could we create models that attracted investment capital to address deeply entrenched social & environmental problems.
As with any start-up, many of our first assumptions didn’t play out as planned. Initially it was assumed it would be simple, draw up a plan and off we go, but it has been a really difficult journey. We’ve had to continually rethink our support to market and our own business model. Initially it was assumed TDi would work with growth stage enterprise ready to think about their pathway to investment. It soon became apparent that there was a lack of maturity in the market. This was our first pivot where we decided to move into early stage development and Two Feet was born, an accelerator program working with early stage entrepreneurs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and initially supported by NAB. Today this approach has been translated across sectors into tourism, disability, health and cross culturally into Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu & Indigenous Australia.
Early into our journey we realised that the market needed stimulation and help to create investment ready enterprises. We looked to the UK on how they had created an investment and contract-ready grant that was designed to pay for capacity and capability building to get social enterprise ready to take on investment. We approached our partners at NAB and partnered to design Australia’s first Investment Readiness grant. NAB initially committed $1 million to stimulate and build capability. Today this grant is known as the Growth Grant managed by Impact Investing Australia and has been further seeded by DSS Australian Government.
In 2013 we were engaged by DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) to begin to test what it would take to leverage private capital into emerging markets with a focus on the Pacific. This began with a pilot program in Vanuatu, Samoa & Tonga, it resulted in two investments – Tanna Coffee & a Samoan Coconut business. It also led DFAT to create Pacific Rise with the focus on leveraging impact investment into the Pacific.
Our development work has grown in reputation and impact over this time and will be a key pillar into our future. Off the back of this work in 2018 we partnered with IBA (Indigenous Business Australia) to run a pilot accelerator with Australian Indigenous entrepreneurs. This has resulted in an ongoing accelerator for Australia for Indigenous entrepreneurs, and a number of other open doors to work with Indigenous Australians.
Along the way, we have been amazed by the resilience and assets of those often overlooked in our current economic system. It’s exciting to see new diverse economic centres in nascent form and to dream together about scaling for inclusive thriving economies that fit their culture and world.
We have focused much of our efforts on capacity building businesses in the Pacific Islands and with Indigenous Australians.
As social change and market reform has altered the traditional not-for-profit sector, TDi has been heavily involved bringing blended value to chart new pathways to a sustainable future. This has involved coaching, consulting and a tailored NFP accelerator, with the same focus of developing business models based on a NFPs strengths. As the energy for a sustainable and inclusive economy grows in Australia, it is not surprising that TDi has diverse customers and beneficiaries including large global corporates seeking genuine Shared Value projects and philanthropic trusts and foundations.
Embracing innovative new approaches that push the boundaries, exploring how we can leverage what we have and what we’re good at, maximising our impact through enabling others is what we do best.
For much of our journey, it’s been about helping people to believe that doing good and making money together is actually possible. Paul Steele our cofounder tells the story of the Platypus – where the first British sightings and specimens of the unique platypus were too mysterious and wonderful to be believed.
It was thought that the explorers had created their own mythical creature, combining a duck with a beaver or other wild combinations. It was quite a feat to convince people that it was indeed true. This is a lot of what it’s been like to convince people that doing good and making money together is possible & I promise we’re not sewing together ducks & beavers.
This hasn’t been an easy journey. Over the past nine years we have had our fair share of failure, things not working and moments of not being able to make ends meet at TDi. Despite this we’ve forged a way forward and built out a sustainable business model for TDi itself.
We’ve worked closely with the difference makers to demonstrate new models to deliver value to the planet, we’ve created many alliances and partnerships that are the backbone of our work today. We are convinced more than ever that development with out economic development will only continue to lock people in poverty and not see the future realised we all dream of.
The next few years TDi will focus on continuing to prove out new economic models that are inclusive, dismantle inequality & address injustice.