Australia’s Bunya Fund for co-op development opens for new applications

BCCM says the fund ‘plays a pivotal role in supporting a range of projects that embody the co-operative spirit across different communities’

The Bunya Fund for co-op development in Australia has opened for its third set of applications, after two rounds of funding supported 16 new and emerging co-ops in 2023.

The Business Council of Co-ops and Mutuals (BCCM), the sector body for Australian co-ops, says the fund “plays a pivotal role in supporting a range of projects that embody the co-operative spirit across different communities in Australia”.

It added: “From community living and affordable housing to sustainable agriculture and vocational training, these initiatives contribute to shared social, economic, environmental and cultural development.”

The Bunya Fund, Australia’s first co-operative development fund, was created to help grow the next generation of high impact co-ops and mutuals. Founding funders include Bank Australia, Australian Unity and Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH).

Co-ops supported in last year’s rounds include:

  • Co-operation Housing, which is “pioneering a future of community living that balances sustainability with affordability through shared ownership”;
  • The Pack Music Cooperative, which wants to reshape the music industry so artists can thrive together, “setting a new standard for collective ownership and prosperity through the creating of a co-operatively owned music streaming platform”l
  • Earthworker Construction Cooperative, which works on sustainable building and equitable employment. “This venture exemplifies how co-operative principles can address environmental concerns while fostering job equality, highlighting a green and just future,” says BCCM.

The Bunya Fund offers AU$5,000-$25,000 in capacity building, including advisory services from BCCM members and partners, infrastructure investment, governance training, support with impact measurement, and BCCM associate membership for the financial year.

BCCM says this support aims to remove barriers to growth for co-operatives and mutuals.

It adds: “The Bunya Fund panel of experts seeks applications from emerging co-operatives and mutuals demonstrating ethical practices, clear goals, significant community impact, viability, essential documentation (annual report, business plan, financials), and robust member/community engagement.

“Applications should highlight how they meet these criteria to support their vision for economic, social, cultural, and environmental improvement within their communities.”

Visit the BCCM website for more information and to apply. Applications close at 5 pm, Friday, 12 April 2024.