NAB helps streetwear social enterprise scale-up

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Fair trade fashion brand, Etiko, is the latest social enterprise to receive a grant from National Australia Bank’s (NAB) Impact Investment Readiness Fund.

The company, which focuses on producing fair trade footwear and clothing, has received a $75,000 grant which will help attract further investment and take the brand into international markets.

Launched in 2015, the Impact Investment Readiness Fund offers grants of up to $100,000. It is the only fund of its kind, helping social enterprises not classified as charities to access growth rather than seed funding. The $1 million fund supports not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises to build capacity by granting access to the necessary advisory, financial, intermediary or legal services to get investment-ready and scale up.

Etiko’s founder Nick Savaidis said the grant will help raise additional investment to scale the business.  The company has twice been ranked Most Ethical Fashion Brand in Australia, largely due to its commitment in addressing child labour and sweat shop labour in fashion industry supply chains.

“We have adopted a different type of business model – one that aims to make profit while addressing an important social issue – child and sweatshop labour. We want to mainstream our ethical fashion ethos, both in Australia and internationally, so are seeking investors who will look at social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.  This grant will assist us tremendously to connect with this type of investor”.

The other recipients of the grants program address a variety of issues, including in education, renewable energy and disability services.

NAB’s Head of Community Finance and Development, Corinne Proske, said the fund would support innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges facing Australia.

“These grants will help bridge the gap in Australia that exists between mission-driven organisations in need of funding and investors actively seeking impact investment opportunities,” Ms Proske said.

“These organisations will be able to develop their plans and hopefully attract the necessary investment needed for them to succeed.

“But this is just the start. It’s time for the corporate sector to show greater support for funds such as this if the social finance market is to truly develop,” she said.

Impact Investing Australia CEO, Daniel Madhaven, said NAB’s leadership in building the impact investing market in Australia is encouraging other organisations to contribute to the Fund.

“Since its launch, the Impact Investment Readiness Fund has seen high demand from social enterprises and we see a real opportunity to grow the Fund to $10-20 million to deliver more impact,” Mr Madhaven said.

The first grant recipient, Maths Pathway, has already used its grant to pay for business advice that has helped attract an additional $750,000 from investors and grant recipient Hire-up used its allocation to complete an oversubscribed $2.5 million capital raising.

The grant recipients include:

  • Maths Pathway – An online learning tool that aims to address a decline in the maths competencies of school students by transforming the way the subject is taught in classrooms.
  • Ethical Properties Australia – EPA brings together organisations wanting to co-locate and raise impact investment.
  • Hireup – An online platform which enables people with disability and their families to directly find, engage, manage and pay for their support workers.
  • AshOil –An indigenously owned manufacturer of environmentally-friendly fuel, biodiesel and fuel logistics/transport organisation.
  • Sydney Renewable Power Company – A company established to enable Sydney residents to invest directly in renewable energy projects located within their community.
  • Etiko – A fair trade ethical footwear and clothing fashion brand.

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