Our Purpose Build a thriving rural Australia through igniting entrepreneurship in young people and their communities.

The Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACRE) is a small and rapidly growing for-purpose organisation operating as a social enterprise.

A social enterprise is an organisation that trades intentionally to tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training or help the environment.

We use social enterprise as a valuable learning tool for developing citizenship and enterprise skills simultaneously in support of community leadership, resilience and rejuvenation.

Our targeted service offer combines learning and development programs, advice and support and community brokerage services to build the entrepreneurial capability and capacity of individuals, entities and rural communities.


  • Find strength and greater impact through working with others
  • See opportunities in challenges
  • Are role models for entrepreneurial thinking and action
  • Prepared to fail in order to succeed
  • Don’t need to find excuses to enjoy ourselves
  • Take our work seriously, not ourselves
  • Be the bridge-maker between industries, sectors and generations
  • Measure what matters
  • Are tenacious, fiercely independent and nimble


ACRE is taking a whole of community approach to developing an entreprenuership ecosystem and is playing the role of ‘bridgemaker’ between sectors. In support of the research below our work needs to start early and take a whole of community approach. 

  • By 2020, technology will replace 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies. This will affect every person, every business and every community. Preparing young people who are entrepreneurial-minded innovators is a must. (Australian Learning Lecture, Yong Zhao, Mitchell Institute 2016)
  • Youth unemployment has tripled since 2007 and is up to 50% in some rural areas (Brotherhood, Lost Generation Report 2013)
  • 60% of young people are training for jobs that are unlikely to exist in 10-15 years (FYA, New Work Order, 2015)
  • Young people are not learning the mindset, skills and behaviors required to create their own jobs in the future. From job seeker to job creator!
  • Only 30% of our young people return to rural Australia after leaving for study and career opportunities. (McKenzie, DPCD 2011)

From job seeker to job creator

One of our great challenges is how we prepare students for the 21st century and a knowledge economy that is rapidly changing, highly globalised and uncertain. To date we have successfully prepared students as job seekers for positions and industries with strong employment. However, as we speak these industries are moving employment off-shore and to technology.

Globally there is a fundamental shift towards students being supported to become job creators and not just job seekers through involvement in entrepreneurial learning. We are piloting the potential benefits in our part of the world without having to re-invent the wheel.

Entrepreneurial learning engages a students entire range of talents and results in experiential education that builds leadership, enterprise and employability skills.


Matt Pfahlert | CEO

Matt is a well-known social entrepreneur with a long standing commitment to rural Australia.

In 1996 Matt received the Sir Weary Dunlop Young Australian of the Year Award for his work in establishing the Typo Station Youth Project for disadvantaged young Victorians (now named Evolve). Matt received Leadership Victoria’s Community Leader of the Year award in 2004 and in 2013 was awarded a Churchill fellowship to study youth entrepreneurship programs and social enterprise models in rural communities in the UK, Canada, and the US.

Peter Sacco | Program Manager

Peter is a highly accomplished, experiential educator, facilitator and project leader.

Peter has delivered a broad range of successful community based natural resource management initiatives in Australia, US, Europe and South Africa. He has a proven track record of working on projects with multiple stakeholders and across sectors including community, government, tourism, education and business.

In 2014 Peter was awarded a position on the Sante Fe, New Mexico 2015 Study Tour to research the role that schools play in their communities and the benefits of broader school community engagement on student outcomes.

Caz Humby | Operations Manager

Caz has a strong background in community engagement and communications and is well recognised across the region.

Caz has worked in the government sector for over 15 years and has an excellent understanding of project delivery, strategic planning and stakeholder engagement.

Caz has also worked with a diversity of sectors across the community and has experience in team leadership and internal communications.

Caz has also worked as an educator, locally and abroad and provided support to many volunteers across the region.

Clayton Neil | Strategic Projects Manager

Clayton has extensive experience in working in rural areas and a strong background in economic and community development.

Clayton moved to North East Victoria in 2007 to take up the Cycle Tourism Development Manager role with the local council and become a trusted advisor on this issue nationally. Clayton is an avid cyclist and has a strong background in economic development, tourism, events, business development and business finance.

Clayton brings experience and skills in community development, stakeholder engagement, rural development and entrepreneurship and is leading the community buy back of the Old Beechworth Gaol.


Jonathan Chapman: Chair of ACRE

Chartered Accountant

Professional Services

Investment Markets

Experienced Not-for-profit Chair

Senior Executive roles

Former CEO Australian Communities Foundation

Matt Pfahlert: Co-founder of ACRE

Rural Business Consultant

Founder/ CEO Typo Station (1994-2003)

Not-for-profit experience

Social Enterprise

Telstra Foundation Board member

Social Traders Board member

Churchill Fellow

Clayton Neil: Co-founder of ACRE

Business Banking

Cycle Events

Regional Cycle Strategy

Economic Development

State Cycling Reference Group

Adrian Appo OAM: Board member

Founding CEO of Ganbina (1997-2014)

Not-for-profit experience

Recipient of the following:  Defence Service Medal, Centenary Medal, Order of Australia Medal

Directorships: Children’s Ground, Goulburn Broken CMA, Indigenous Leadership network in Victoria, Impact Investing Australia, Social Ventures Australia


  • David Brookes – Managing Director of Social Traders (Australia)
  • Gerry Higgins – CEO Community Enterprise Scotland (Scotland)
  • Tim Draimin – Executive Director of Social Innovation Generation (Canada)
  • Pete Ekstedt – Executive Officer of Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation (Australia)
  • Peter Holbrook – CEO of Social Enterprise UK (England)
  • Maggie McGuire – CEO of Abbottsford Convent (Australia)

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