7 September 2022 Mary Anne Scully

Bendigo Bank helping to accelerate opportunities for rural communities

The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) today announced Bendigo Bank as the key partner for the 2022 Social Enterprise World Forum Rural Gathering.

The Rural Gathering (2 – 5 October 2022) will showcase and explore innovative ways that social enterprise is delivering new opportunities for rural communities in Australia and across the globe.

ACRE CEO and Co-Founder, Mr Matt Pfahlert, welcomed the support of Bendigo Bank and said the Rural Gathering presents an exciting opportunity to accelerate change for rural communities.

Social enterprises are businesses guided by a social purpose. They exist to benefit the public, community and environment, not just shareholders and owners, reinvesting most of their profits for this purpose,” said Matt.

“When Melbourne hosted the Social Enterprise World Forum back in 2009, the Bendigo Bank community banking model was the only regional and rural approach featured. As the key partner of the 2022 Rural Gathering, Bendigo Bank can share the story behind this unique banking model and its role in the renewal of rural communities.”

The 2022 Rural Gathering program includes an immersive field trip to social enterprises operating in the communities of Beechworth, Yackandandah, Corryong and Bright, including Indigenous and student-led enterprises. A final day forum will bring together some of the world’s most experienced and effective social enterprise policymakers and practitioners with philanthropy and government.

Bendigo Bank Managing Director, Marnie Baker, said addressing social and economic issues at the same time produced a better chance of bridging gaps in society and delivering lasting change.

“This is the power of social enterprise and for 24 years our Community Bank model has been providing people with employment, services, funding and opportunities as a primary objective, not as an afterthought,” said Ms Baker.

“Our Community Bank model is a unique and important story. The product of a partnership forged between passionate and motivated leaders within our Bank and the community to establish the first of what is now more than 300 Community Bank branches across Australia.”

The Rural Gathering is part of the 2022 Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF). the flagship event for the global social enterprise community. Each year, SEWF moves around the world to offer delegates challenging, topical programs that feature local, national and international expertise. Australia is hosting Social Enterprise World Forum in 2022 and this is the first time the Rural Gathering will be held in the Southern Hemisphere.