It takes a village to grow an inclusive sustainable business

A reflection on the long term commitment to supporting businesses that help to create a better future.
Anthea Smits, CEO The Difference Incubator

TDi has been committed to inclusive sustainable businesses since the early days of the social enterprise movement in Australia. We’ve partnered with NAB to start our Two Feet accelerator program for early stage social entrepreneurs and our founder Bessi Graham was behind the design of Australia’s first investment readiness grant which is now managed by Impact Investing Australia and funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS).

These were designed as part of a long-term mission to build a critical mass of successful social enterprises across Australia. Now, years on we’re seeing the real fruits of these initiatives.

There’s a saying it takes a village to raise a child. I think this saying can also be applied to social enterprise, and business looking to do good in the world. These models are tough to build, and they need support and help. Refugee Talent is a good story of how that support has kicked in at different stages of their journey to propel them forward.

We’re excited to be working again with founders of Refugee Talent, Nirary and Anna, who we met right at the beginning of their journey through our Two Feet Accelerator in 2016. Two Feet was an accelerator program working with early stage entrepreneurs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and initially supported by NAB.

Refugee Talent is a recruitment and technology platform connecting Refugees with Employers. Nirary and Anna never had thought of themselves as business entrepreneurs, but it was their commitment to solve a problem that drove them to start a business. They were both passionate about breaking down barriers for refugees and helping employers to see the opportunity – the skills, experience and talent of people who want to contribute to the world. They recently shared how the TDi accelerator helped them at the early stage of their journey: “It was really good to learn about all the different concepts of social enterprise and governance, marketing, strategy and all these different aspects you’re not necessarily thinking about when you first start. It helped us get more business savvy and work out what we needed to do. We won the prize too, which kind of launched us.”

“It was really good to learn about all the different concepts of social enterprise and governance, marketing, strategy and all these different aspects you’re not necessarily thinking about when you first start. It helped us get more business savvy and work out what we needed to do.”

Over the past four years Refugee Talent have grown their model taking on two early stage rounds of investment and are now ready for their next big step in taking on a significant capital raise round. They have extended their business to include a Social Inclusion Recruitment Platform to support diversity in employment and they need more resources to grow and scale their impact. We are very pleased to be part of Refugee Talent’s ongoing story and to be supporting them through the Investment Readiness grant that we helped to create.
Early in TDi’s journey we realised that the market needed stimulation and help to create investment ready enterprises. We approached our partners at NAB and worked together to design Australia’s first Investment Readiness grant. Today this grant is known as the Growth Grant managed by Impact Investing Australia and has been further seeded by DSS Australian Government. With the support of the IIA Growth Grant TDi will work with Refugee Talent over the next 12 months helping them design a pathway to their future. Anna shares, “They know us, they are aligned with our work in social impact and it’s really nice to come back again and work on our future plans together. I think we really want to get clear on our business plan and best approach to scale this platform as quickly and as best as possible and continue to build a sustainable organisation.”

‘Early in TDi’s journey we realised that the market needed stimulation and help to create investment ready enterprises.’

We live and operate in an era that requires great acts of bravery, creativity and fresh approaches to entrenched social problems. We believe that business can be a powerful tool for this and we’re here to help make it happen. But it takes a village. It takes funders like NAB with a vision to catalyse a future we can only imagine, it takes market builders like IIA & Bessi Graham (TDi’s previous CEO) who are able to understand the gaps and advocate for the right support and it takes strategic implementation partners like TDi who are able to design and build. And it take difference makers like Nirary and Anna, who are committed to create a business to solve a problem that they are passionate about. At this time, more than ever before we require a chain of collaborators and actors to design and build our future. Are you part of this village? Let’s explore the possibilities together.
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