Co-op fund aims to double down on impact by handing power back to communities to prosper and grow

19 August 2022

  • Early-stage for-purpose businesses that have members (not shareholders) can now apply to Australia’s first co-operative development fund to receive targeted legal, financial and governance advice to help grow their social enterprise
  • $140K has been raised in the first year from established co-operatives and mutuals to invest in capacity building and scaling for early-stage co-ops and mutuals; it is expected to grow to a $500k per year fund
  • The fund, launched by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) in partnership with its members, was developed to address the critical gap in accessing professional advice and education on the co-operative business model which has resulted in a lack of diversity in Australian social enterprise business models

The Bunya Fund is Australia’s first co-operative development fund designed to help grow the next generation of high impact co-ops and mutuals. Founding funders include Bank Australia, Australian Unity, Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) and CoPower.

The aim of The Bunya Fund is to help emerging co-operatives and mutuals to grow and prosper to increase their positive impact on their members, their communities, the environment and society.

BCCM CEO, Melina Morrison, said “These enterprises operate across Australian society from sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, renewable energy and social care to community banking, community owned retail, Indigenous services and arts and culture. Co-operatives and mutuals empower people to work together to solve their common needs through a democratically controlled and jointly owned business model. It’s about Australians helping Australians and creating a more prosperous society where everyone can thrive by working together.”

“Importantly, the Fund aims to create more co-operation amongst co-operatives, which is a principle that all co-ops legally ascribe to.”

Godfrey Moase, Chair of Cooperative Power said, “As a new co-operative aiming to make energy cheaper and cleaner for a fairer Australia, we understand the value of The Bunya Fund to grow a more democratic economy. The Fund is an important link in a thriving network of co-operatives.”

The Bunya Fund will support up to five early-stage co-operative or mutuals or initiatives (or businesses converting to a co-operative or mutual structure) by providing capacity building, education and advisory services, valued at between $5,000 and $25,000. Eligible organisations are for-profit, not-for-profit or charitable co-operatives and mutuals, or other enterprises looking to convert to a co-operative or mutual.

Further information and application details can be found on the BCCM website. 

Applications are now open and close at 5 pm, Friday, 23 September 2022. Enquiries can be directed to Antony McMullen, Advocacy and Sector Development Lead, BCCM.

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