Why We Care

Many rural communities in Australia are experiencing stagnation or decline.

The issues behind this situation are complex and require multi-pronged solutions. Despite significant investment, there remains a chronic lack of entrepreneurship education and support for young people in rural Australia and the communities in which they live.

Compared with metropolitan communities, rural communities are experiencing:

Significantly and persistently poorer education outcomes

Double the suicide rate

Double the unemployment rate

Significantly poorer health outcomes

Deepening digital divide

Disproportionately greater impacts from climate change

Essential pillars of our work

In 2013 ACRE Co-founder and CEO Matt Pfahlert undertook a Churchill Fellowship study to uncover the key ingredients required for rural communities to journey from being ‘on their knees to thriving’ again. He identified that communities can become agile, resilient, enterprising whilst decreasing government reliance when five key ingredients are available:


Entrepreneurship to drive social change


Experiential learning, starting young and leveraging the world’s best social enterprise content


Building a community culture and ecosystem that are self-sustaining


Utilising community asset ownership to galvanise action


Cross-sector collaboration to drive place-based change

While entrepreneurship and social enterprise has the potential to rejuvenate rural communities, the culture, skills and infrastructure does not currently exist to foster innovative ideas or build entrepreneurial talent. ACRE exists to address this gap.

Organisations such as Social Traders and Social Ventures Australia have been instrumental in building a social enterprise sector that promotes the benefits of social enterprise and entrepreneurship for Australia. But, to date, the majority of entrepreneurial support in Victoria is concentrated in metropolitan Melbourne.

ACRE is committed to working alongside, and in collaboration with, these organisations to further develop the sector and facilitate the inclusion of rural communities in the development of social enterprise and entrepreneurship capability in Australia.