A Tool To Support The Indigenous Economy

First Australians Capital and Indigenous Impact came together at the start of 2021 to start work on this framework: The Indigenous First Impact Framework.

We believe we can uniquely position the Australian impact investment market with greater Indigenous inclusions, which will have multiplier effects in key impact areas, through equitable access to ‘Right’ capital.

First, we need to shape the foundations. This begins by shifting mindsets about the collective power and capacity of the Indigenous economy, showcasing the opportunities for growth, and demonstrating the knowledge of Indigenous participants to lead the way.

Increasing self-determined futures for Indigenous peoples is the ‘north star’ for this framework. Indigenous ‘Self-determination’ might not be front of mind for all investors, but it is a path that many of our mob still seek after long periods of systemic and institutional oppression, even in contemporary Australia.

This is not just a national issue but also a global issue. Reducing inequalities is Goal 10 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It captures the importance of no-one being left behind. It is increasingly recognised that our dependence on achieving the other 16 SDGs will be determined by our ability to make significant progress with achieving greater levels of equality.

We believe impact capital markets have the opportunity to play a greater and more transformative role in Indigenous economic development and social equality.

We invite all institutions from investors to mainstream finance providers to read and reflect on the Framework. If you would like to discuss the Framework and how you could explore implementing its principles, please get in touch with our Associate Director, Tiarne Shutt.

Principle 1: Leading Indigenous Impact

Indigenous people are best placed to develop solutions and lead decision-making with opportunities relating to Community, Country and impact outcomes.

Funders/Investors can empower Indigenous enterprises to determine the outcomes of a project/investment by changing their own perception on the drivers of change, rather than changing the Indigenous business.

To guide Principle 1, the following three sub-principles support its use:

Principle 1.1

Indigenous businesses have a right to pursue self-determination, and this shouldn’t be compromised to achieve financial outcomes.

Principle 1.2

Indigenous governance is essential to developing and implementing impact strategies involving Community and Country.

Principle 1.3

Indigenous culture is valued and recognised for its importance in achieving successful business objectives and impact outcomes.

Principle 2: Designing Indigenous Impact

Indigenous decision-making and the role and value of Indigenous culture are not adequately recognised in impact measurement and performance frameworks. Furthermore, Indigenous data is often held outside of communities.

The framework advocates the use of cultural indicators in measurement and performance frameworks, where and when appropriate.

To guide Principle 2, the following three sub-principles support its use:

Principle 2.1

Data sovereignty ensures that Indigenous impact data is held by Indigenous peoples.

Principle 2.2

Indigenous impact data is viewed as an asset to creating shared value where Indigenous knowledge contributes to positive outcomes for all Australians.

Principle 2.3

Reciprocity means paying for what you want. Additional data and measurement reporting requirements, such as alignment with investor frameworks, should be funded and resourced by the Impact Investor, not the Indigenous enterprise.

Principle 3: Powering Indigenous Impact

Shifting power to Indigenous businesses requires investment processes and relationships to be underpinned by transparency, timely and adequate information and risk sharing.

Systemic inequities within investment processes can inhibit Indigenous businesses from making self-determined decisions. This often forces the Indigenous business into a predefined structure or agreements that the Indigenous participants have had a limited role in creating. This results in compromises to Community and Country impacts over investor-determined reporting outputs or rates of return.

A Right Capital and Right Support approach bridges the gap between existing financial structures and Indigenous-led impact. Patient time horizons, sharing of resources and flexibility are required to achieve long-term impact outcomes and business sustainability.

To guide Principle 3, the following sub-principles support its use:

Principle 3.1

Partnerships need to be values-aligned and based on a foundation of transparency. Investors should be clear about their intentions for investing, how they deploy and manage capital, and keep Indigenous participants up to date about any changes that may affect the outcomes.

Principle 3.2

Cater for long-term investment horizons. Longer time horizons for investments enable an environment for learning and growing with the Indigenous business.

Principle 3.3

Remove systemic barriers within the investment processes so that Right Capital can be, deployed to Indigenous businesses. This could mean developing financial products that are more suitable to the requirements of the Indigenous enterprise to enable long-term sustainable impact outcomes.