Who We Are

ACRE’s purpose is to drive the renewal of Australia’s rural communities so that future generations may thrive.

ACRE is a for-purpose social enterprise with a BIG mission. We want a positive, vibrant future for rural and regional Australia. We believe in lighting a spark for young people to think creatively, to be entrepreneurial, to be innovative and to be supported by their community.

Established in 2013, ACRE has a deep commitment to and proven track record of delivering activities and programs that raise aspirations and inspire entrepreneurship in communities.

We offer guided learning and development programs, community brokerage services, advice and support to build entrepreneurial skills in individuals, organisations, government and community. We educate around the emerging model of Social Enterprise as a means of re-generating rural communities in Australia. Read more about our work here.

The back story

The idea for ACRE emerged in 1993 from Matt Pfahlert’s experience with Typo Station, an organisation and place he founded in the King Valley, Victoria to support and upskill country kids at risk of falling through society’s cracks.

Matt found he was being contacted by young people from all around rural Australia who were looking to put their good ideas into action but there was nowhere to send them. He then decided his career legacy would be creating environments in rural and regional Australia where this could happen. Matt was encouraged by wider support for this vision. In 1996 he received the Sir Weary Dunlop Young Australian of the Year Award for his work in establishing the Typo Station Youth Project and in 2004 he received Leadership Victoria’s Community Leader of the Year award.

In 2013 Matt was awarded a Churchill fellowship to study youth entrepreneurship programs and social enterprise models in rural communities in the UK, Canada, and the US. Matt is also a board member of Social Traders and the Telstra Foundation. Inspired by international know-how and emerging business connections, Matt teamed up with Clayton Neil in 2013 to establish the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship. ACRE had arrived with the goal of giving young rural Australians genuine hope for a better future.

"ACRE advocates for the emerging model of Social Enterprise as a means of rejuvenating communities in Australia. "

Building social enterprise expertise in communities

In the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, more people are employed by social enterprises than the traditional sectors of fisheries, forestry and agriculture combined. These new enterprises are focused on building economic, social and cultural capital and leveraging local assets and know how.

ACRE advocates for the emerging model of Social Enterprise as a means of rejuvenating communities in Australia.

We’ve partnered with the Social Enterprise Academy in Scotland to bring its suite of internationally-recognised entrepreneurial learning and development programs to Australia, and the Social Enterprise Institute in Canada – a pioneer in online learning.

In 2016 ACRE worked with the Social Enterprise Academy to develop and establish Social Enterprise Schools in Australia and offered a pilot program. Social Enterprise Schools has now reached more than 3,500 students in over 30 schools. With support, this opportunity can scale further.

Community led asset ownership is another important part of ACRE’s impact. In 2016 ACRE led the community buyback of the Old Beechworth Gaol through a consortium of local investment and philanthropic support. The site is becoming a vibrant precinct for the social, cultural and economic benefit of the region.