The federal government has formally launched the Australian Business Growth Fund to help close the “critical gap” which has kept some SMEs from being able to obtain the finance they need to succeed.

“Today’s launch of the Australian Business Growth Fund is fantastic news for high growth potential SMEs who require essential long-term equity finance to flourish,” said Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell.

The fund will provide SMEs potential access to long-term equity capital investment of between $5m and $15m.

“While businesses need to demonstrate three years of revenue growth and profitability, there are allowances in place for the impact of the COVID crisis on recent business performance,” Carnell added.

Anthony Healy, former NAB chief customer officer of business and private banking, has been named as the fund’s first CEO.

According to his successor Andrew Irvine, current NAB group executive for business and private banking, Healy has been “one of the strongest supporters” of the fund’s establishment from the beginning.

“We are pleased that someone with Anthony’s extensive experience will be leading the fund and we look forward to working with him to support entrepreneurs right across Australia,” Irvine said.

NAB has already invested $100m in the fund; the major sees the platform as an important way for Australian businesses to be able to access long-term equity capital.

Irvine, who recently joined NAB from Bank of Montreal in Canada added, “Access to capital is critical to help businesses reach the next level of growth and I know from my experience with the Canadian Business Growth Fund that initiatives like this are a powerful way to support entrepreneurs.”

“This news will be particularly important to small businesses right now as governments and industry work together to support Australia’s economic rebound.”

The Business Growth Fund has already swelled to $540m in size following contributions from other banks and the government.

“Australia has managed the health and economic crisis extremely well, and we have the opportunity to rebound strongly from the impacts of COVID-19. We will continue to advocate for long-term reform to support SMEs to thrive and power Australia’s economic recovery and beyond,” Irvine finished.

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Source: Australian Broker