Biripi Capital, Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned private equity firm, has closed an initial tranche of $20 million investment from the Hudson Food Group. It is believed to be the largest impact investment into an Aboriginal business ever made in Australia.
Biripi Capital established the Supply Nation registered company The Dreaming Food Group earlier this year to compete at scale in Australia’s food industry, focusing on food manufacturing, brand creation, and mainstream food services distribution.
Hudson Food Group’s investment gives it minority ownership in the group.
Biripi men David Liddiard and Michael Manikas co-founded the food group with the goal of redefining the role business can play in having a positive social impact.
One third of all The Dreaming Food Group’s profits will go to The Dreaming Foundation, a not-for-profit charity established to fund Aboriginal-led organisations in delivering programs and initiatives that directly contribute to Closing the Gap.
At the core of the model, the more successful The Dreaming Food Group is by profit, the greater the funding pool for The Dreaming Foundation to invest in Aboriginal-led organisations which are working to Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Liddiard and Manikas said The Dreaming Food Group is on track to be profitable within its first year, which in turn will translate to immediate funding for The Dreaming Foundation to begin its work in achieving impact. The Dreaming Food Group business will also support Indigenous employment, supply chain and other social outcomes.
Co-founder and executive chair Manikas said the business offered a new model for corporate purpose.
“We’ve been working closely with the Hudson Food Group over the past six months to develop an investment structure that embeds maximum social impact into the very core of our operating model. This investment will be critical for our growth and impact ambitions over the next two years,” Manikas said.
Manufacturing capability is set to come online in early 2022, with The Dreaming Food Group targeting $100 million in revenue within the next two years.
It is focused on four key areas of growth: food services (providing hospitality venues with over 5500 pantry style food supplies); food manufacturing; the development of consumer food products and brands; and native ingredients.
For Hudson Food Group CEO Frank Karkalas it was an opportunity for the established company to make an impact investment.
“We were determined to ensure that there was a model that could exist for us to help fund the growth and development of the business and make a meaningful difference to our reconciliation journey as a company and as individuals to Close the Gap. More needs to be done by corporate Australia, and through this investment, more can be done,” Karkalas said.
The funds will help The Dreaming Food Group scale up more quickly and open additional growth opportunities across the business, specifically on establishing a world-class manufacturing capability.
The Dreaming Food Group co-founder and chief impact office of the Dreaming Foundation Liddiard said in 2021, business has, more than ever, a responsibility to create value beyond the balance sheet.
“With today’s announcement, we are making a compelling argument to the Australian business community: doing well is not in conflict with doing good. Our ambitions for success with The Dreaming Food Group are fuelled by our vision for the impact we can make to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia through The Dreaming Foundation,” Liddiard said.
The Dreaming Foundation is the only charity or foundation of its kind, looking to provide non-governmental funding across the 17 Close the Gap targets, Liddiard said.
The work of the foundation is to champion Closing the Gap independent of government, and to connect government, corporate Australia and Aboriginal-led charities and organisations. The first grants to be awarded by the foundation are expected to be made in the areas of Indigenous mental health, culture, and healing.
“Today we’re excited to share with Australia a new model for corporate purpose, and it’s incredibly fitting that we are doing so as a First Nations-owned and led business,” Manikas said.
The impact investment was led and structured by Biripi Capital in house by its Chief Operating Officer Anthony Ward and supported by K&L Gates as strategic lead advisor to the transaction.
Biripi Capital is a 100 per cent Aboriginal owned private equity firm founded by Liddiard and Manikas. Through its work and investments, it is committed to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians via ownership of or in sustainable Aboriginal businesses, which through profit generation can fund Close the Gap initiatives. Founded in 2020, Biripi Capital has set itself bold and ambitious plans to change the model of Aboriginal business in Australia.
The Dreaming Food Group
The Dreaming Food Group has four key elements to its business: food services (the provision of pantry style supplies to hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants etc), manufacturing (food manufacturing), brands (development of consumer food brands) and native ingredients (for food and health). A third of the profits of The Dreaming Food Group are donated to The Dreaming Foundation to fund Aboriginal led programs and initiatives which Close the Gap. The balance of the profits is reinvested in building a mainstream food company which can compete on a national level.
The Dreaming Foundation
The Dreaming Foundation was launched in 2021 in conjunction with for purpose company The Dreaming Food Group. The Dreaming Food Group uses ‘food as an enabler’ to provide one of the primary sources of income into The Dreaming Foundation by donating a third of its profits to The Dreaming Foundation every year. The primary model is the more successful The Dreaming Food Group is, the more income which is donated to The Dreaming Foundation allowing a greater funding pool to invest in Aboriginal led organisations which are working to Close the Gap. The Dreaming Foundation Limited is registered as a Public Benevolent Institution and a charity which is Advancing Social or Public Welfare with the Australian Charities & Not for Profit Commission and holds tax deductible gift recipient status with the Australian Tax Office. Major philanthropic supporters of The Dreaming Foundation include ANZ Bank and leading global law firm K&L Gates.
David Liddiard OAM
David Liddiard has dedicated his life post a successful NRL career to helping, support and guiding Aboriginal Australians. As an Biripi man, David is passionate about Closing the Gap between the opportunities that exist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the rest of the community, particularly in the areas of economic security, education, employment, health, and wellbeing. He is committed to facilitating opportunities for improvement through Indigenous traineeships, apprenticeships, and mentoring. In 2009 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in Minority Supplier Diversity – through which his research helped create the model for what is today known as Supply Nation. In 2014 he received an OAM for services to Indigenous youth, sporting, and employment programs.
Michael is a proud Biripi and Worimi descendant from the Cook and Syron families. Michael has forged a path of business leadership in Australia. He is a respected Aboriginal business leader and sits on a number of boards and committees including deputy chair of the NSW Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the Property Council of Australia. As executive chair of The Dreaming Food Group and The Dreaming Foundation, Michael is determined to see funding improved independent of government to Close the Gap.
Hudson Food Group
For more than 40 years, Melbourne based Hudson Food Group has been a leader in the Australian food industry. Founded by Ken Skoullos and Frank Karkalas, the core of the Hudson business is the provision of food services to hotels and restaurants. In 2016, The Hudson Food Group was sold to ASX listed Retail Food Group (RFG). In 2020, RFG sold the business back to Ken and Frank who were determined the ‘second life’ of Hudson under their ownership would turn to ‘giving back’ via philanthropic pursuits such as its significant impact investment into Aboriginal business The Dreaming Food Group.