White Box Enterprises has announced plans to establish a $5 million patient capital fund. The Sustainable Employment Loan Fund (SELF) is aimed at providing low-cost finance for jobs-focused social enterprises in Australia.
The fund will help create more employment opportunities for disadvantaged Australians by offering loans ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.
“Access to capital is one of the biggest barriers jobs-focused social enterprises face when it comes to their growth,” said Luke Terry, CEO of White Box Enterprises.
“While impact investors face the challenge of finding high impact, low risk social enterprises to invest in, it’s our aim to bridge that gap.”
The Westpac Foundation will contribute $500,000 towards the establishment of the fund. As well as committing an additional $1 million in first capital loss once White Box raises $4 million.
“Westpac Foundation has been supporting jobs-focused social enterprises for over 15 years. Like us, they recognise the social and economic contribution these businesses make, as well as the barriers they face. It’s great to have their support for this project,” said Luke.
White Box will collaborate with other investors focussed on catalytic impact. The aim is to match the provision of affordable finance, on flexible terms, while also paying investor returns.
“To advance jobs-focused social enterprise in Australia we need to find ways to unlock new opportunities for these businesses. We’re excited to support White Box as they explore this new funding model.” said Amy Lyden, CEO Westpac Foundation.
This is not White Box’s first attempt to create a loan fund. In 2019 they attempted to raise $50 million for a similar project. Luke recognises they may have been too bold, and approaches this raise with more pragmatism.
“We need to continue to challenge current approaches and explore new ideas if we are to mainstream social enterprise.” Luke says.