First Australians Capital (FAC), an Indigenous-led organisation focused on empowering economic independence and self-determination for First Nations entrepreneurs, has announced it has appointed former Australian Consul-General & Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Benson Saulo as Managing Partner to complete FAC’s new leadership team to propel the organisation’s growth further. The announcement coincides with the news that FAC is the recipient of a $9 million grant from the Paul Ramsay Foundation to strengthen FAC’s organisational resilience and sustainability.
Benson Saulo joins FAC as Managing Partner. His role at FAC is facilitating private investment and capital into Indigenous businesses and growing a broader impact for the Indigenous economy through corporate development and advisory services.
Benson is a proud descendant of the Wemba Wemba and Gunditjmara people of Western Victoria, and from New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea. Benson brings over 18 years of experience spanning finance, international engagement, economic development and social impact.
Prior to FAC, Benson was the first Indigenous person to be appointed an Australian Consul-General with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission based in Houston, where he spent close to three years driving forward Australia’s diplomatic, economic and trade agenda. Additionally, Benson was the sector lead for healthcare across the Americas, focusing on advanced therapeutics, digital health and medical devices. He was also responsible for building relationships between First Nations peoples globally, facilitating trade, investment and cultural exchange.
Since early on in his career, Benson has accumulated an accolade of prestigious awards, including the National NAIDOC Youth of the Year Award, and finalist for Young Australian of the Year (VIC) and the Human Rights Medal for Youth from the Human Rights Commission of Australia in 2012.
Benson said, “It’s a privilege to join Australia’s only Indigenous-led national business advisory and social impact fund and be given the opportunity to leverage my experience better to support First Nations businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, to build wealth for Indigenous communities and walk beside them on their impact journey”.
“After nearly three years in the US, it is exciting to reconnect with community and re-engage the vibrant Indigenous business ecosystem in Australia. First Australians Capital has been an established and trusted name across the impact investing landscape for over a decade, and I hope to build on its success and continue the important work to support Indigenous businesses to drive commercial and social impact”.
FAC has secured $9 million of funding from the Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF), one of Australia’s largest charitable foundations.
PRF’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor Kristy Muir said PRF was proud to be supporting FAC at a time when it was consolidating for further growth.
“The Paul Ramsay Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the work of First Australians Capital in its vital work in supporting the Indigenous economy. We are proud to provide further capital investment into FAC’s operations to support its work and look forward to being a part of this next phase for the organisation.”
FAC has been operating a $13 million concept fund since 2021 and has deployed $9.1 million (as at 30 June) across 51 finance facilities.
FAC’s Managing Partner Brian Wyborn commented, [TS6] “Thanks to the Paul Ramsay Foundation’s trust in First Australians Capital, these funds will empower FAC to decide how we approach our strategy to better support First Nations businesses and entrepreneurs and create more opportunities for Indigenous peoples. PRF’s commitment to FAC is allowing us to unlock innovation and self-determination for hundreds of Indigenous businesses and founders”.
Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.