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Opinion: Stronger social impact means more Indigenous investors

If we are to invest in our future financially and heal our wounds as a nation then we need to embrace and empower our Indigenous Australians. The best way to do this is to invest in their infrastructure though an investment fund that provides the best of both social and financial rewards for everyone.

As a Luritja man from Central Australia it was my vision to create an investment fund that improves Indigenous economic participation and access to infrastructure; such as reliable electricity, safe drinking water, improved health care and better access to quality education to address long-term disadvantage of Indigenous Australians.

There is an urgent demand for infrastructure investment in Indigenous communities around Australia that are fundamental to Closing the Gap. Impact Investing Partners aims to spend $500 million over five years across 15 to 20 direct investments.

The Indigenous Infrastructure Investment Fund will only invest in infrastructure projects that provide social and economic return to both the communities and investors as I believe this is the most sustainable way moving forward. To have an even stronger social impact it is our goal that 50% of the investor pool will be Indigenous Investors.

Because of my heritage and first-hand experience in building infrastructure investments across regional Australia, I know that this investment has the ability to deliver attractive stable returns as well as positive social and economic impact. Something that our nation craves as we honour our recent National Reconciliation Week.

At the heart of Reconciliation Week is the opportunity to unite and deepen the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To foster positive race relations and heal our wounds, it is vital that we unite and empower one another and move forward to create equality, empowerment and financial rewards.

This fund is designed to help us heal and prosper as it addresses essential service gaps in Indigenous communities and increase Indigenous economic engagement via employment, procurement and leasing with Indigenous landholders. It also supports the growth of strong and reliable Indigenous businesses while giving investors the chance to create strong social and financial benefits.

In the 2019 Closing the Gap report, the Australian Government acknowledged significant failures to meet targets, and the need to work in partnership with Indigenous communities to improve outcomes in health, education, housing, economic development and other areas.

I believe that in order to create a better tomorrow, we need to unite non Indigenous Australians with the traditional owners of our land and help Close the Gap. An investment into Indegenous infrastructure will strengthen communities through improved health and wellbeing which will bring needed healing and empowerment.

Chris Croker is the Managing Director of Impact Investments Partners

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