ABGF is an investment fund for growth-ready Australian businesses.

ABGF was established as a public-private partnership between the Federal Government and six leading banks, purpose-built to back SME businesses to pursue growth activities.

Founded with an initial capital of $540 million, our aim is to fill a critical gap in the market for flexible growth capital that’s tailored to each individual business. Our investment can facilitate expansion into new markets, new product development, mergers and acquisitions and succession planning.

In establishing our team, we have carefully selected individuals with a passion for SME businesses, each dedicated to supporting our investee companies to thrive. With ABGF, you’re getting more than financial investment – you’re getting true backing.

Our people

Our team is made up of experienced business leaders, strategists and finance professionals with a purpose-led approach to what they do and a passion for backing innovation.
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Leadership
Investment
Business Development
Talent Network
Operations
Board
Anthony Healy
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Anthony Healy
CEO & Managing Director
Anthony Healy
CEO & Managing Director
Anthony joined ABGF as its inaugural CEO in October 2020 after twenty-eight years in banking and financial services, including CEO, C-suite and board-level roles across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Middle East. He is a member of ABGF’s board and chairs the investment committee.

Anthony’s career covers a broad range of financial services sectors, predominantly serving SME businesses, financial markets, wealth management, investment, and funds management. He graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Science and Graduate Diplomas in Economics and Finance.

Sought out as a change agent, he has led start-ups, growth businesses and turnaround situations, with a strong focus on growth, innovation, and cultural transformation.

Anthony lives in Melbourne with his wife Kate, a lawyer, and their two children, Patrick and Caroline. When he is not driving his children from one sporting event to the next, he finds time for cycling, the occasional game of golf or tennis, and sharing a nice bottle of wine with friends.

“I have worked with, supported and served SME businesses for most of my career, including serving on the board of the Icehouse, New Zealand’s leading growth fund and business accelerator. I love working with entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses, helping them grow and innovate – they are the heart and soul of the Australian economy. That’s why, in my previous role as Chief Customer Officer for NAB, I led the initiative to establish ABGF and why I was so excited to take on the role as founding CEO, to build Australia’s leading mid-market growth fund, and fill the gap in the market for long-term, patient (minority) growth capital for Australian SMEs.”

Ghazaleh Lyari
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Ghazaleh Lyari
Co-Head of Investments
Ghazaleh Lyari
Co-Head of Investments
Ghazaleh joined ABGF in March 2021 from CHAMP Ventures. With a career spanning almost three decades, she has a diverse set of experiences across the technology industry, investment banking on Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and founding and running her own business. Ghazaleh has a track record of supporting and investing in SMEs across a broad range of sectors in Australia, and building strong relationships with SME founders as a dependable partner through their growth journey. She is a member of ABGF’s investment committee.

Ghazaleh grew up in Tehran, living through war and revolution, and moved to Australia as a teenager. She graduated from the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Science (double majors in Physics and Computer Science) and subsequently obtained an MBA from The Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago. She now lives in Sydney with her husband and son.

Ghazaleh is a strong advocate for diversity and equity in the workplace, dedicating her spare time to mentoring female entrepreneurs as well as young women interested in business and finance. She also enjoys travelling and exploring the world, reading, and entertaining friends and family.

“ABGF is uniquely positioned to be a true change agent, fueling growth in the SME sector, while leaving control in the hands of the business founders and owners. The fund is built on a purposeful foundation and allows me, as the co-head of the investment team, to do what I love professionally while doing good for the country.”

Patrick Verlaine
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Patrick Verlaine
Co-Head of Investments
Patrick Verlaine
Co-Head of Investments
Patrick was previously a partner with Crescent Capital Partners and started his career as a corporate strategist with LEK Consulting in London. He is a member of ABGF’s investment committee.

Having led multiple Investments and chaired numerous SME boards over his career, Patrick has extensive experience across a broad range of industries with particular expertise in building products, industrials, mining technology and consumer goods. He graduated from Imperial College London, with first class honours in a Master of Aeronautical Engineering.

A citizen of the world with Belgian heritage, Patrick grew up in South Africa and Spain passing by France and the UK on his way to Sydney where he sought to combine his passion for surfing with investing in SMEs. His childhood abroad enabled him to become truly tri-lingual and is a native English, Spanish and French speaker. Married with three children, he spends most of his spare time trying to selfishly force his young family to indulge in his own passions of Real Madrid, surfing and mountain biking – in that order.

“I joined ABGF because the opportunity to co-lead the investment team of a newly created, for-purpose fund that enables Australian SMEs to execute their growth aspirations whilst always retaining control was too good and unique an opportunity to turn down. I feel truly privileged to be able to share this journey with all these incredibly gifted entrepreneurs and hope to assist them in achieving their goals with my own experience and perspective along the way.”

Frederick Charette
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Frederick Charette
Head of Talent & Capability
Frederick Charette
Head of Talent & Capability
Fred joined ABGF after building the global direct private equity investing arm of CDPQ, Canada’s second largest asset manager. A former McKinsey consultant, he was also a founding shareholder and COO of Daisee, an artificial intelligence startup. He is a member of ABGF’s investment committee.

Fred’s functional expertise centers around organisational performance, business culture, talent and leadership. His background covers a variety of sectors including retail, higher education, healthcare, manufacturing and technology. Fred completed a post-doctorate in Law and Economics at UC Berkeley.

Fred lives in Sydney with his wife Coleen, a diversity consultant, and their two children, Alicia and River. A native French speaker, he grew up near Université de Montréal among a family of psychologists, while managing the operations of a 9-hole country town golf course during the summers.

“Aside from capital, what small businesses need most is access to expertise and talent. The thread that connects my professional journey is a constant curiosity about human behaviour, how it impacts the health of an organisation and ultimately, its performance. That’s why I joined ABGF: to provide SMEs with capable board members and advisors, and to assist small business owners in making decisions about their people and organisation in a way that will most effectively use our capital injection to support their growth.”

Rayna Toman
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Rayna Toman
Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer
Rayna Toman
Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer
Rayna joined ABGF after 10 years with private equity firm Next Capital where she was responsible for the finance, company secretarial, compliance and investor relation functions. Prior to this she worked in finance roles at Macquarie Bank and Schroders Australia. Rayna is a co-company secretary of ABGF.

Rayna has worked in private equity and financial services for most of her career and has had exposure to a wide variety of investment structures, investees and investors, from both a finance and an operational view. Rayna is a Chartered Accountant (CA ANZ), has a Bachelor of Business from the University of Technology Sydney, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment (FINSIA) and has completed an Executive MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management.

Rayna lives in Sydney with her husband and children. They have shared many interesting holidays both in Australia and abroad and are always planning their next adventure. When not out bushwalking in the local national parks, Rayna loves to read.

“There comes a time when you realise that there is more to work than just doing what you have always done. The opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself in a business as unique as ABGF is very attractive. It is very rewarding to be part of the leadership team and leverage my experience in private equity to shape a business that will assist SMEs.”

Stefanie Allen
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Stefanie Allen
General Counsel
Stefanie Allen
General Counsel
Stefanie joined ABGF from Lazard where she was responsible for the legal and compliance functions of its financial advisory and private equity businesses in Australia, Singapore and Japan. Prior to Lazard she worked as an M&A lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills in Melbourne and Freshfield in London. Stefanie is a co-company secretary of ABGF.

Stefanie has worked with a wide variety of businesses spanning multiple sizes and sectors during her time with Lazard and her time in private practice. Stefanie has a Bachelor of Commerce and Laws (Honours) from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment (FINSIA) and has completed the AFMA/International Compliance Association AML/CTF Management Program.

Stefanie lives in Melbourne with her husband Neil, and their children. Stefanie and her family love to travel and enjoy the spectrum of experiences it brings.

“I really enjoy working as a lawyer and I feel strongly that organisations need to create legal and compliance frameworks that are fit for purpose. In joining ABGF from the early stages I have the opportunity to apply that to the fund itself as well as share my knowledge and experience in this area with SMEs.”

Dries Venter
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Dries Venter
Business Development Director
Dries Venter
Business Development Director

Dries joined ABGF after 10 years in leveraged finance with Commonwealth Bank and HSBC where he had the privilege of leading Commonwealth Bank’s middle market leveraged finance business. Previously, he worked in advisory roles with Deloitte in Australia and Africa. He leads ABGFs business development efforts and works closely with the bank secondees to find the fund’s next great investment.

Dries has led numerous investments with Australia’s leading middle-market private equity funds across various industries. He labels himself a “just-in-time” expert, being able to quickly get up the curve on the industry or nuances a business operates in. He’s a Chartered Accountant and spent 10 years working in hospitality, so knows his way around a set of financial statements and a bar (behind it of course).

He lives in Sydney with his wife and two children. They are always out and about, either bushwalking, at the beach or catching up with friends. Dries grew up in South Africa, loves rugby, travelling and single malt whisky (Islay).

Dries’s passion for investing in SMEs stems from his father who worked for an African business development bank and helped SMEs at grassroots level. “My father was immensely proud of all the businesses he helped start and grow. I firmly believe SMEs are the growth engine of the Australian economy. They help countless people put food on the table, invest in innovation and technology, and contribute positively to their local communities. They will drive Australian prosperity for generations to come. I am excited about how ABGF can contribute to this great purpose and feel immensely privileged to be part of this journey”.

Trisca Scott-Branagan
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Trisca Scott-Branagan
Chief Marketing Officer
Trisca Scott-Branagan
Chief Marketing Officer
Trisca joined ABGF from ANZ Bank where she held senior positions as Head of Personalisation and Institutional Marketing. Prior to this she worked in higher education and ten years at Deloitte. Trisca is a member of the Australian Business Growth Fund Executive.

Trisca has over 20-years’ experience working across financial and professional services in business and consumer marketing. She is an Industry Advisor to the Australian Data-Driven Marketing Association (ADMA), the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA), and Deakin University School of Marketing.

Trisca was awarded #5 most innovative Chief Marketing Officer in Australia by the CMO Council and Marketing Executive of the year by CEO Magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Industrial Relations, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Marketing, with Distinction.

Trisca lives in Melbourne with her husband, three children and Cavoodle. She finds her serenity hiking the mountains. Her greatest accomplishment was surviving 10-days exploring the Kokoda Trail in Papa New Guinea.

“SME’s play a critical role in Australia’s future to drive innovation and growth. Their success is dependent on their ability to engage meaningfully with customers. I am honoured to work directly with the businesses we invest in, advising on how they can maximise their marketing efforts to drive business outcomes.”

Nicole Backhouse
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Nicole Backhouse
Westpac Secondee
Nicole Backhouse
Westpac Secondee
Nicole joined ABGF as a Business Development Manager secondee from Westpac, where she was the Business Manager supporting the Commercial Customer Relationship Management team in Westpac’s business bank. Since joining Westpac in 2018, Nicole has business management experience in business banking (SME and commercial banking), consumer banking and wealth.

Before joining Westpac, Nicole was an M&A lawyer with Herbert Smith Freehills and Clifford Chance and has over 15 years’ experience advising on deals in Australia, the UK and Europe. During that time Nicole worked on a wide variety of transactions covering a diverse range of industries. Nicole has a Bachelor of Economics, Social Sciences (Honours) and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Sydney and has recently completed the Graduate Certificate of Executive Leadership with the Australian Graduate School of Management.

Nicole lives on the Northern Beaches in Sydney with her husband and two young children. When not attending swimming lessons, gymnastics classes and rugby practice with the kids, Nicole and her family love going to the beach, visiting local cafes and restaurants and exploring the trails around Narrabeen lake.

“I joined ABGF because the mission of the fund, Backing Australian Business to Thrive, is so compelling. Small and medium-sized businesses are the centre of the Australian economy and I am excited to be part of an organisation which supports these businesses, through both capital and access to the talent network, to help unleash growth opportunities.”

Greg Bell
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Greg Bell
Finance Manager – Operations
Greg Bell
Finance Manager – Operations

Greg joined ABGF from a fintech startup where he was the Head of Finance. Prior to this Greg has worked with professional services firms including EY in Australia, US and UK. Greg is a member of the ABGF finance team.

Greg has worked as an adviser to SMEs across a variety of industries for most of his career, on aspects of accounting, finance, risk and operations. Greg is a Chartered Accountant (CA ANZ) and has a Bachelor of Economics and an MBA from Macquarie University.

Greg lives in Sydney with his son. When he is not indulging his son’s pursuits he can be found on a soccer field. Greg also enjoys movies, reading, sport and catching up with friends and family.

“My career has been focused on SMEs and I was captivated by ABGF’s mission to support the growth of the sector through financial investment and access to its talent network. I enjoy the passion and energy entrepreneurs bring to their business. I’m also inspired by the high quality and capabilities of the ABGF team, who are dedicated to its mission and the Australian SME sector.”

Lucinda Bradshaw
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Lucinda Bradshaw
Investment Manager
Lucinda Bradshaw
Investment Manager

Lucy joined ABGF from BBRC Private Equity, an Australian mid-market private equity fund focused on consumer, healthcare and technology investments. Lucy originally trained as a commercial lawyer and worked in capital markets and M&A at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. Lucy is a member of the ABGF investment team.

During her three years investing at BBRC Private Equity, Lucy partnered with founders and management teams to help them scale their businesses locally and overseas. In her previous career as a commercial lawyer, Lucy specialised in capital raisings and saw first-hand the transformative potential of investment capital on a business’s growth trajectory. Lucy has a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from the University of Sydney.

Lucy lives in Sydney, where she spends her free time catching up with family, running in Centennial Park and visiting local wine bars with her partner Alex.

“I joined ABGF because I truly believe it offers a unique form of investment. As a minority, for-purpose investor, ABGF allows shareholders to maintain control of their business while providing them significant support, capability and experience to help them scale. For me, working alongside entrepreneurs and learning about their business is a privilege that makes every day an exciting experience. I’m really looking forward to working with Australian SMEs to help them achieve their goals.”

Lori Broner
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Lori Broner
Investment Associate
Lori Broner
Investment Associate
Lori joined ABGF from Anacacia Capital, an Australian mid-market PE fund. Prior to this, Lori was a management consultant at L.E.K. Consulting, where she worked with leading corporates and private equity firms across a wide range of sectors on transactional due diligence, growth strategy development and execution and operational improvement. Lori is a member of the ABGF investment team.

Prior to entering the commercial world, while studying, Lori trained and practiced as a Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapist focusing on targeted behavioural outcomes for children diagnosed with Autism and was able to complement this with a range of academic internships. She graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Biochemistry.

Lori was born in Johannesburg and moved to Sydney with much of her extended family at the age of three, where she has been lucky to live ever since. In her spare time, Lori enjoys long bush walks with her husband Dovi, cooking, dance/barre classes, reading and thoroughly spoiling their 1 year old disabled rescue cat Oliver.

“In joining ABGF I not only get the incredible opportunity to work with entrepreneurs and founders of SMEs to help them achieve their goals and dreams, but I get to do so through the industry leading framework ABGF is bringing to the market. ABGF is truly unique in its patient equity, minority investment and partnership approach which puts as much focus on doing good for society and business owners as it does for investors.”

Alex Chang
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Alex Chang
Investment Associate
Alex Chang
Investment Associate
Alex joined ABGF from Greenhill & Co, where he advised clients on mergers and acquisitions, and capital markets transactions across the industrials, professional services, real estate, and financial services sectors. He is a member of ABGF Investment Team.

Prior to joining ABGF, Alex had the opportunity to work at non-profits in the US and India focusing on economic empowerment and childhood education. He studied and lived in the US and China before graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies), majoring in Finance, Economics, and Chinese Studies.

Alex was born and raised in Western Sydney. Being the younger brother of two sisters, he enjoys keeping himself busy – riding his motorbike, competing on the tennis court, and dabbling in photography to stimulate his creative side.

“I’m attracted to great people and ideas. I’m also a big believer in working to lift up those who need the most help. SMEs are the lifeblood of the Australian economy but an underserved sector. It’s my ambition to help founders and their teams make a splash!”

Dev Koppikar
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Dev Koppikar
CBA Secondee
Dev Koppikar
CBA Secondee
Dev has joined ABGF from Commonwealth Bank, where he has spent the last 6 years managing a portfolio of clients in the corporate banking segment.

Dev has over 16 years’ experience in banking, including his time at NAB, ANZ, and Commonwealth Bank. Dev’s banking experience spans across business and corporate banking with focus on SME clients across various industries and up to turnovers of $150M, specialising in cash flow lending. Dev has an MBA from University of Technology Sydney, and a Bachelor of Commerce, Financial Accounting from the University of Mumbai.

Dev grew up in Mumbai and came to Sydney as a 20 year old to pursue further studies after his graduation. He lives in Gables, which is about 40km northwest of Sydney CBD, where he lives with his wife, Shruti, and 5 year old son, Kiyaan.

Outside of work, his passion is music, and he is also a trained Indian classical vocalist and has performed at various music festivals in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. He also enjoys going on long walks with his better half and being a travel enthusiast – he cannot wait to visit his next holiday destination, the Maldives!

“I am absolutely amazed by the opportunity I have been given to spend 12 months at ABGF. The core values of this fund resonate with me personally, and I am honoured to be able to add value and help grow businesses and stimulate growth and create employment in the SME sector which is the true heartland of the Australian economy.“

Jack Lin
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Jack Lin
Investment Director
Jack Lin
Investment Director

Jack Lin joined ABGF from AUA Private Equity Partners, an operationally-focused lower-middle market private equity firm backed by one of the most successful Hispanic-owned family businesses in the United States. He previously worked within investment banking, management consulting and corporate law environments in Australia. Jack is a member of the ABGF investment team.

During his ten year tenure at AUA Private Equity Partners, Jack specialised in investing in founder and family-owned SMEs across the United States, partnering with entrepreneurs to accelerate growth in their businesses. Jack has a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from University of Sydney and studied at Cornell Law School.

Jack recently returned to Sydney from New York with his wife Susie, having grown up on the Northern Beaches. He regularly plays in weekend soccer leagues, likes to uncover new audiobooks, and enjoys learning about new technology innovations around the world and thinking about how they can be applied locally.

“Purpose, passion, impact, and a drive to make our lives better – SME entrepreneurs are the unsung heroes of our society. The past ten years in New York taught me an incredible amount about scaling SMEs and the meaning of true partnership with entrepreneurs. I am incredibly excited to share these lessons and my experiences with Australian entrepreneurs in supporting them to realise their visions.”

Ashley March
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Ashley March
Executive Assistant to the CEO
Ashley March
Executive Assistant to the CEO
Ashley joined ABGF team from Yarra Valley Grammar as Executive Assistant to our CEO, to support the leadership team and to assist with office management. Ashley held EA roles among C-Suite executives in multiple industries including financial, retail, hospitality and academic organisations in Sydney and Melbourne. This has provided her with an invaluable opportunity to operate under different structures and management styles, being the critical point of contact between senior internal and external stakeholders.

Ashley lives in Melbourne with her partner Ilan, her three boys, Eamon, Jack and Hugh and two Newfoundland dogs, Vida and Georgie. Ashley and Ilan share a passion for travel, shopping for fresh produce in the market, cooking, and nature walks. Ashley grew up in Sydney where her family continues to run a small upholstery business in Lane Cove. Ashley spent much of her teenage years in Coolangatta, QLD as well as a couple of years in Fremantle, WA where she enjoyed the beautiful Australian beach lifestyle.

“I am so thrilled to be part of ABGF, a company that will make a difference to many Australian SMEs which I am incredibly passionate about. It is amazing to be able to work alongside a dedicated team and in a company with a strong culture of integrity and ethical behaviour, delivering outstanding business results to all those inspiring entrepreneurs out there. For me, this is the dream job.”

Mark Massara
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Mark Massara
Finance Manager
Mark Massara
Finance Manager
Mark joined ABGF from Australian Unity to assist the working group shareholders to establish and incorporate the fund. He previously held senior management roles in the agribusiness sector and a start-up fund. Prior to this, Mark spent 10 years in London working at hedge fund GLG Partners on their flagship credit and convertible bond funds. He is a member of ABGF’s Finance Team.

Having worked in both financial services and commercial businesses, Mark brings a broad range of experience including valuations, risk and operations. Mark is a Chartered Accountant (CA ANZ) and graduated with a Bachelor of Business in Accounting & Information Systems from Edith Cowan University.

Mark lives in Melbourne with his wife and they both enjoy travelling and dining out with friends. Mark grew up in Western Australia where he enjoyed the perks of being part of a family fishing business – eating good seafood!

“I joined ABGF because I’m inspired by entrepreneurs who take a leap of faith to start their own business. I wanted to be part of a unique fund that not only offers entrepreneurs long-term patient capital, but also a network of strategic advisors to help achieve their growth objectives. I’m looking forward to working with the ABGF team to build a fund that has a positive impact on SMEs and the broader community.”

Catherine Poblete
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Catherine Poblete
ANZ Secondee
Catherine Poblete
ANZ Secondee
Catherine joined ABGF as its Business Development Manager for ANZ, having been in corporate and commercial finance across ANZ, Macquarie Bank & NAB over the past 20 years. She has spent time in Port Moresby PNG with the ANZ team but has been part of the Sydney business community for most of her career. She has a Masters in Applied Finance (FINSIA); and has supported business owners, their families and their teams, from a diverse range of sectors locally and internationally, in their growth aspirations.

Born in the Philippines, Catherine migrated to Australia and grew up along the NSW coast, and now lives in Manly. In her spare time she loves diving, cooking with family and friends, and the English classics.

“I get to work with interesting people, and despite their many sacrifices they have incredible drive and passion for their business and the industries they are in – I never fail to learn from them. I joined ABGF as there are few chances in finance to create meaningful change in family businesses with the capacity and capability that we have with the fund. Because our business owners retain majority ownership, the fund is in a unique position to partner with mid-market businesses and help with Australia’s growing succession and innovation needs. I’m excited that our SMEs have access to the support needed to succeed as they are key to helping our business communities thrive.”

Steve Power
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Steve Power
NAB Secondee
Steve Power
NAB Secondee

Steve joined ABGF as a Business Development Manager secondee from NAB where he was the Health Banking Executive leading NAB’s health business banking specialisation in Victoria.

Having joined NAB in 1999, Steve has developed a wealth of experience supporting a diverse range of customers across NAB’s consumer, business and private, and corporate and institution banking businesses. Steve holds a Bachelor of Business, Banking and Finance from Victoria University of Technology and a Master of Applied Finance from FINSIA.

Steve lives in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne with his wife and two young children. Outside of providing a first-rate taxi service to the myriad of kid’s sporting activities, Steve is an enthusiastic cyclist, middle distance runner, and occasional triathlete, and loves immersing himself in various culinary adventures in the kitchen, sometimes to reasonable effect.

“The opportunity to join ABGF and play a part in connecting Australian businesses with the capital to help them grow is a great privilege. ABGF provides such a unique opportunity for Australian businesses to access the patient capital required to continue their growth stories, whilst accessing talent and networking opportunities that will see them thrive. Having spent my career dedicated to the growth of Australian businesses, I’m passionate about enabling the health, happiness and prosperity of the communities that surround us, and thrilled with the opportunity ABGF provides to deliver upon this purpose”.

Munpreet Soomal
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Munpreet Soomal
Investment Associate
Munpreet Soomal
Investment Associate
Munpreet joined ABGF from Luminis Partners (in affiliation with Evercore), an independent corporate advisory firm. Prior to Luminis Partners, she worked as a corporate lawyer at Clifford Chance in Sydney and in Hong Kong. She is a member of the ABGF investment team.

Munpreet’s expertise includes advising businesses on legal and commercial aspects across a variety of sectors, including energy, retail, healthcare, financial services and mining. Munpreet has a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Finance, and a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from Bond University and spent time studying abroad at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Munpreet lives in Sydney with her partner Manish, an engineer, and their Cavoodle puppy, Archie. She grew up in South East Queensland among a family of business owners. On weekends you can find her on a coastal walk or bike ride, at the latest new restaurant or planning her next getaway.

“I enjoy working with a wide variety of businesses, helping them manage their way through significant commercial transactions. Joining ABGF is an exciting step for me as it allows me to use the skills I’ve gained in my career to not only help businesses on their growth journey but also help support Australia’s SME community, economic growth and employment. Our minority ownership model allows for true partnership with entrepreneurs as we support them to succeed.”

Elliot Steel
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Elliot Steel
Investment Associate
Elliot Steel
Investment Associate
Elliot joined ABGF from McKinsey & Company where he served clients on a range of strategy and operations topics across Australia, New Zealand and the US. He is a member of the ABGF investment team.

Prior to business, Elliot had experiences working in industry as a geologist with BHP and as a geophysicist conducting research on coal seam gas in Central Queensland, planetary sciences with NASA in California, and on climate change and extreme physical environments in the Antarctic. He graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Geoscience and Geophysics.

Elliot now lives in Sydney having grown up in country New South Wales, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane and the UK. A self-professed geek, on weekends when he is not out with friends running, eating or lifting weights you will find him buried in a good history book or learning new programming skills.

“I love meeting talented and industrious management teams and hearing about what motivates them. Whether the business is doing something new or doing something better, they are disrupting the status-quo in a big way and this is incredibly exciting. SMEs drive employment and economic activity in Australia, and as a community we are all invested in their success. Where there are great but traditionally overlooked businesses looking for support, I hope we can be there. ABGF is about doing something new, and it is my opportunity to help this critical segment and to see founders, their businesses, and their employees develop and prosper.

Mike Baird
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Mike Baird
Chairman
Mike Baird
Chairman

Mike Baird was appointed CEO, HammondCare, September 2020.

Prior to commencing at HammondCare, Mike was a member of the National Australia Bank executive leadership team from 2017 to 2020 as Chief Customer Officer – Corporate and Institutional Banking (2017-2018) and Chief Customer Officer – Consumer Banking (2018 – 2020). In these roles, Mike led NAB’s global institutional business, the retail banking business, including more than 700 branches, 7000 bankers, broker partnerships, direct banking, and the digital bank, UBank.

Prior to this, Mike was the 44th Premier of New South Wales, representing the electoral district of Manly in the NSW Legislative Assembly. Mike entered NSW state politics in 2007. He held several shadow ministries before serving as Treasurer from 2011 to 2014, and then as Premier from 2014 to January 2017, when he retired from politics.

Mike is passionate about family, sport and looking after community’s most vulnerable. He is Chairman of the Australian Business Growth Fund and sits on the Boards of Surfing NSW and Cricket Australia. He is also an ambassador for Bear Cottage and Southern Youth Family Services.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) from the University of Sydney and a DipCS Regent College Vancouver, Canada. He has also completed executive management courses at Harvard and Duke University.

“SMEs are the backbone of our economy and essential for our nation’s growth. We look forward to supporting more Australian businesses that will play an important role in our economic recovery and stimulate our key national industries.”

Grant Cairns
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Grant Cairns
CBA Representative
Grant Cairns
CBA Representative

Grant Cairns is Commonwealth Bank’s Executive General Manager for Regional and Agribusiness Banking, responsible for serving the financial services needs of the bank’s rural commercial and agribusiness customers. A strong believer in the resilience and innovative capacity of Australian SME’s businesses, Grant joined the Commonwealth Bank in 2005 and the Australian Business Growth Fund board at its inception in 2020.

He has broad experience across Business Banking, including senior leadership roles in Commercial Lending, Transaction Banking, Asset Finance serving key sectors of the Australian economy in metropolitan and regional areas. Grant has completed AsiaLink’s Leaders Program and holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting and Finance, as well as a Master of Applied Finance. He is also a Chartered Accountant and Vice President of FINSIA.

“Australian SME’s contribute over 50% of Australia’s GDP and are critical to Australia’s economic growth and recovery. To help grow, SME’s need capital and the ABGF is an ideal growth capital provider and partner to help successful and fast growing businesses employ more Australian’s, invest in expanding operations and open new markets”.

Duncan Woods
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Duncan Woods
Westpac Representative
Duncan Woods
Westpac Representative

Duncan Woods is Chief Strategy Officer at Westpac Group.  Prior to joining Westpac, Duncan has spent the past 20 years in banking and consulting predominantly across Asia and Africa.  Much of his work has involved developing and executing strategies to support SMEs by understanding how banks’ solutions and service models need to adapt to meet their unique needs. 

He previously worked for McKinsey, Oliver Wyman, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank and Asia Commercial Bank (Vietnam) in a range of advisory, strategy, transformation and business line roles predominantly in Consumer and SME Banking.  He brings experience from working with local banks, global banks and public sector institutions across multiple countries on key issues facing SMEs and the solutions they need across payments, funding and day-to-day operation of their businesses.

He has Bachelor and Master Degrees of Economics from Cambridge University and University College London, respectively, and was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University.

“I am excited to play a part in supporting the development of small businesses which are key drivers of GDP growth and employment in Australia.  Segments of SMEs continue to find access to finance from banks a challenge despite strong business plans and potential, and therefore I am very supportive of ABGF’s mission to partner with growth businesses to provide the valuable combination of both finance and deep expertise.”

Lesley Gillespie, OAM
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Lesley Gillespie, OAM
Independent Director
Lesley Gillespie, OAM
Independent Director

Lesley along with her husband Roger are founders of Bakers Delight, a 680 plus bakery franchise network across four countries; Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Bakers Delight started from one bakery in Hawthorn, Melbourne May 1980.

Even though Bakers Delight could now no longer be classed as a small business, the many franchisees across the network are small business operators. Lesley understands small business and she is committed to the success of Bakers Delight franchisees. They are part of the backbone of the communities they serve.

Community involvement has been important and over the years Lesley has been involved in many community activities ranging from serving on school boards to chairing advisory committees at Swinburne and Monash universities.

Along the journey, Lesley has been awarded 2006 OAM Order of Australia Medal; 2013 Fellowship from Monash University where she gained an Honours Degree in Science and a Diploma of Education; 2014 Champion of Entrepreneurship at the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Southern Region awards; Honorary Doctorates from both Swinburne University of Technology (2018) and Monash University (2021).

‘This fund is committed to helping small and medium sized businesses prosper leading to more employment and ultimately stronger more cohesive communities’.

Stuart Green
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Stuart Green
Macquarie Bank Representative
Stuart Green
Macquarie Bank Representative

Stuart is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Macquarie Bank Limited, the Approved Deposit-taking Institution of Macquarie Group, and has more than 20 years’ experience in asset financing, infrastructure funds management, investor relations and corporate treasury.  Prior to being appointed CEO of Macquarie Bank Limited, Stuart was Group Treasurer for Macquarie Group.

Stuart was appointed an Australian Business Growth Fund observer in 2020.

“Australia has a tremendous heritage in entrepreneurship and innovation. The Australian Business Growth Fund provides small and medium business owners access to the capital they need to achieve their growth aspirations and make a greater contribution to Australia’s ongoing economic prosperity.”

Nathan Goonan
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Nathan Goonan
NAB Representative
Nathan Goonan
NAB Representative

Nathan joined the Executive Leadership Team at NAB in April 2020 in the newly created position of Group Executive Strategy and Innovation. Before this role, he was NAB’s Executive General Manager Group Strategy & Development with responsibility for the global execution of NAB’s corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions activity. He has also held the role of Executive General Manager for Corporate Affairs.

Nathan’s career in banking began in 2004 when he first joined NAB as a graduate in the mergers and acquisitions team. He re-joined NAB in 2013 and has led major strategic initiatives for NAB, including the divestment of NAB’s UK and US businesses, the divestment of NAB’s MLC Wealth business and the refresh of the Group’s strategy.

He previously worked in the investment banking teams at Goldman Sachs and is currently a Director of MLC Limited, Pollinate and the Australian Business Growth Fund.

“I’m delighted to be a part of the Business Growth Fund which has an important role to play in providing small businesses with access to long-term equity finance as well as in helping to drive confidence in the small business community.”

Ms Roxanne Kelley PSM GAICD
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Ms Roxanne Kelley PSM GAICD
The Commonwealth
Ms Roxanne Kelley PSM GAICD
The Commonwealth

Ms Roxanne Kelley joined the ABGF board as the Commonwealth Government representative.

Ms Kelley is the Deputy Secretary Corporate and Foreign Investment Group in the Department of The Treasury. She is a career public servant with over 30 years experience working at State and Commonwealth government levels, in social welfare, national security and central policy agencies with responsibilities that have covered service delivery, cross-government policy development, regulatory compliance and enforcement, organisational re-design, change management, corporate governance and HR.

Ms Kelley said “the ABGF as a public-private partnership between the Federal Government and six major banks is helping Australian small and medium-sized businesses access capital to create jobs and accelerate economic growth.”

Noel McNamara
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Noel McNamara
HSBC Representative
Noel McNamara
HSBC Representative

Noel McNamara is a career banker with 38 years’ experience across the financial services sector garnered from retail, commercial, corporate and institutional banking positions held with HSBC Australia, Standard Chartered Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation.

Since 2016 he has held the role of Chief Risk Officer for HSBC Australia. In this capacity he is responsible for the oversight of enterprise risks across HSBC’s operations in Australia and a member of HSBC Australia’s Executive Committee and HSBC Asia Pacific’s Risk Executive Committee.

Noel held the role of Chief Executive Officer for HSBC New Zealand between 2011 and 2015, and before this was Head of Commercial/Corporate Banking for HSBC Australia from 2007 to 2011 .

HSBC is one of the founding shareholders of the Australia Business Growth Fund (ABGF) where Noel has served as HSBC’s nominated Director since late 2020.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the ABGF’s effort to support local SMEs. HSBC’s experience as a shareholder in both the UK and Canadian business growth funds shows that access to alternative sources of equity and capital can be a significant enabler of growth for these companies. It also allows management to retain ownership and control of their strategic goals and ambitions.

I see no reason why this experience cannot be replicated in Australia. Over time, I expect that SME partnerships forged with the ABGF will help to stimulate job creation and, in turn, support the broader Australian economy.”

Isaac Rankin
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Isaac Rankin
ANZ Representative
Isaac Rankin
ANZ Representative

Isaac is Managing Director, Commercial & Private Banking at ANZ, responsible for the bank’s 500,000 small and medium business customers across Australia and high net worth clients.

Commercial Banking serves a broad and diverse range of businesses in terms of size and industry focus, from start-ups through to established businesses. This includes sole traders, speciality health and agribusiness, property developers & investors and a diverse range of small to medium enterprises.

Private Banking & Advice provides banking and investment services for ANZ’s high net worth clients and family offices across Australia.

Isaac joined ANZ in 2007 and has significant experience leading customer-facing teams in ANZ’s Institutional and Commercial banking businesses. Prior to ANZ, Isaac held a number of senior banking and finance roles in Perth, Melbourne and New York.

Isaac is a member of ANZ’s Ethics and Responsible Business Committee.
Isaac holds a Bachelor of Business degree from Curtin University (WA) and a Master of Applied Finance degree from Macquarie University (NSW).

“ABGF really does seek to close an existing gap in the market. It’s longer-term approach suits business owners looking to grow and expand and who want someone to back them without taking a controlling interest of their business”

Karyn Sobels
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Karyn Sobels
Independent Director
Karyn Sobels
Independent Director

Karyn Sobels is an Independent Director and Chair with experience in senior executive corporate roles across a number of industry sectors including banking, retail and telecommunications, as well as being an SME owner.

Serving as President of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Karyn is also a board member of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry where she chairs the Economics and Industry Committee.

Previously Chair of Victorian Chamber’s Small Business Taskforce, she has a significant appreciation for the challenges and opportunities for SMEs. Other directorships include publishing company Riskinfo, the Telstra Licensee Association, University College (Melbourne) and business advisors SKS Hub.

Chairing the Audit and Risk Committee for the ABGF, Karyn holds a BA, a Master of Commercial Law and is a Fellow of both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Governance Institute of Australia.

“SME’s are the engine room of the Australian economy and Australia’s biggest employer, and I am honoured to be able to help drive the development of this important sector through the Australian Business Growth Fund.”

Why we exist

We exist to back the ambition of Australian SMEs.

Our ambition is to become the leading growth capital provider for small to medium-sized businesses in the Australian market, by backing them to grow and thrive. We see a need to make long term growth capital and business expertise more accessible to startups and entrepreneur-led businesses, while supporting innovation and entrepreneurship within the Australian economy.

Find out if your business is eligible for growth capital.