Collaborative funding approach to create more jobs in the Illawarra

Republished  from the Westpac Foundation with permission

Illawarra-based social enterprise, Green Connect, is the fifth organisation to benefit from a new collaborative funding approach led by Westpac Foundation which aims to create more jobs for vulnerable Australians.

Together, Westpac Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation will invest $564,000 in Green Connect to help scale its enterprise to create an estimated 111 new jobs and 262 employment pathways over the next three years. Legal firm MinterEllison will also be involved in the collaboration as a key pro bono partner.

Green Connect focuses on tackling three challenges in the Illawarra region: creating more jobs for former refugees and young people, keeping waste out of landfill, and growing sustainable, chemical-free food.

Kylie Flament, General Manager at Green Connect, said: “The next phase for Green Connect is now possible through this funding and support. We plan to grow each of our business arms and what’s particularly exciting are our plans to establish the Green Connect Farm as a space for environmental education and ecotourism.”

“Importantly, this gives us the ability to increase our financial sustainability, with our long-term goal to be able to self-fund all of the training, support and employment we offer young people and former refugees through the income we get from trade.”

With youth unemployment sitting at 12.8% in the Illawarra, and 22.3% in the Shoalhaven, well above the state average of 10%1, and a growing migrant population, Green Connect has provided much needed job opportunities for the community, while also helping the environment.

“Over the last two years, we have employed 166 young people and former refugees, kept 2,000 tonnes of waste out of landfill, and grown and distributed 55,000kg of fair food.”

“We haven’t done this alone. Every year we have had the support of philanthropic and pro bono partners to sustain and increase what we do. Westpac Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation have been hugely supportive over the last few years, providing funding, advice and connecting us to organisations that buy our goods and services,” Ms Flament said.

Susan Bannigan, CEO of Westpac Foundation, said: “We’ve been proud to support Green Connect since 2014 when they were a small waste recovery business, and today seeing how they’ve grown into a multi-faceted social enterprise with a proven track record for job creation.”

“By collaborating with The Ian Potter Foundation and MinterEllison, we are able to streamline our support so that Green Connect now has one single point of contact, allowing them to put more time towards their primary purpose – creating jobs for young people and former refugees,” Ms Bannigan said.

Charles Goode AC, Chair of The Ian Potter Foundation, said: “The Ian Potter Foundation is pleased to continue its support for a strong organisation with excellent leadership. This grant will assist Green Connect to establish environmental education and eco-tourism opportunities and develop a suite of educational activities. This expansion will allow Green Connect to further strengthen its connection with the community, build its financial stability, and promote sustainable food production and waste management.”

Along with Green Connect, four other social enterprises have benefited from the new collaborative funding approach this year including Jigsaw, The Bread & Butter Project, YMCA ReBuild and STREAT.

The Foundation has brought together 10 like-minded organisations and together they will collectively invest $2.31 million in these five social enterprises to help them create over 2,000 new jobs and training opportunities for vulnerable Australians over the next two years.

The Foundation’s decision to invest additional funds into Green Connect, and these four other social enterprises, is part of its 2030 strategy, focusing on deeper, more collaborative partnerships to drive greater impact. The Foundation has a goal to help create 10,000 jobs by 2030.

For more information on Westpac Foundation and its collaborative funding model, please visit: