The Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF) has anointed former Afterpay chair Elana Rubin to lead its board.
Rubin, a former AustralianSuper chair, currently chairs the Victorian Managed Insurance Agency and is a non-executive director at Dexus, Telstra, and Slater & Gordon. She takes on the chair role of ABGF from former NSW premier Mike Baird.
Rubin said she was drawn to ABGF’s public-private partnership model and its mission to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the SME sector.
“There is a clear gap in the market for long-term patient (minority) growth capital at scale to support small-medium businesses to grow and thrive. Providing these businesses with the capital to grow is vital to support innovation, technology, and skills,” she said.
Former NAB Chief Customer Officer Anthony Healey is ABGF’s CEO.
Healy said Rubin brings extensive experience and is driven by the same values as the fund – to back ambitious businesses to help them grow and thrive.
“ABGF was set up as a unique public-private partnership to address a market failure – the lack of depth in the market for long term patient growth capital for SME’s,” he said.
“Leveraging government and private sector capital, the Fund’s purpose is to support SME’s to scale and in turn create jobs, economic growth and support Australian entrepreneurship.”
The independently-managed ABGF was launched in 2020 by the federal government with $520 million to invest in around 30-50 high growth SMEs annually in return for a 10-40% equity stake. The investments are between $5 million and $15 million.
The Big Four banks chipped in $100 million each to the fund, alongside $10m each from Macquarie Bank and HSBC.
It aims to bridge the gap between late-stage venture capital and larger buyout funds by connecting SMEs with capital, expertise, and local and international networks to support their growth.
Its first investment, in 2021, was $15 million into cleantech firm 3ME Technology.