The new partnership will assist indigenous businesses – including salons – as they grow, assisting them with the resources they need to become financially viable. The aim is to see more indigenous businesses gain access to mainstream funding to ensure their further success.

Speaking for the partnership, Suzi Hullick, Westpac’s National Head of Indigenous Banking said Westpac said: “As Australia’s first bank, we are committed to backing all Australian businesses, including supporting the growing Indigenous sector businesses and entrepreneurs through our great partnership with FAC. We recognise Indigenous business is an important growth element of Australia’s economic recovery. That’s why we’ve come up with a unique shared security structure which will help transition those businesses to become sustainable in their own right to qualify for mainstream lending products with the confidence to pursue the next best thing for them.”

Through the partnership, FAC will work with businesses to get them loan-ready and provide ongoing support after the loan is guaranteed by Westpac and FAC in equal shares.

Ms Hullick says loan readiness includes ensuring robust due diligence and building capacity as needed. This will be done by supplying salon owners and entrepreneurs with access to a panel of pro bono service providers across legal services, IT, marketing and sales, inventory and supply chain management.

FAC has already provided support to more than 400 Indigenous businesses.

According to Leah Armstrong, Co-founder of FAC: “The unique partnership with Westpac plugs a huge gap in the market. Historically, Indigenous entrepreneurs with viable businesses have been unable to access mainstream banking because the barriers are higher. There’s much less of the inter-generational wealth transfer or homeownership you need as security for loans, and they don’t have a track record of trading. We’re definitely seeing a lot more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people considering business ownership as their way of achieving economic outcomes for their community as well as their own wellbeing and family wealth.”

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