Coles will establish a Nurture Fund to help small Australian food and grocery producers, farmers and manufacturers to innovate and grow their business.
Coles will allocate $50 million over five years in grants and interest-free loans to fund the development of new market-leading products, technologies and processes.
Announcing the Nurture Fund with Coles ambassador and chef Curtis Stone at a vegetable farm in Victoria’s Werribee this morning, Coles managing director John Durkan said the Fund would be open to businesses with less than $25 million in annual revenue and 50 or fewer full-time employees.
“The Coles Nurture Fund is one way we can offer support and encouragement to small Australian businesses looking for assistance to take the next step in creating more productive and innovative ways of working,” Durkan said.
“Through investing in productivity driving activities we can not only provide better value to customers but also help set up small businesses to develop the products and platforms to expand their operations and, in some cases, export into global markets.
“Smart, energetic and agile small businesses can often be a launch pad for great product innovation and powerful new ideas on better ways of working.
“Coles wants to hear exciting and ambitious plans from smaller entrepreneurs about how they can deliver new and better product to customers, or about ideas they have for innovative business systems that will improve how they get product to market. Modest financial support can make the difference in getting great ideas up and running.”
Curtis Stone will join three Coles directors on a panel which assesses applications with the support of independent industry advice.
“Australia produces some of the highest quality food in the world and farmers, producers and manufacturers in Australia are continually demonstrating how innovative they are on their farms and in the factories. The Coles Nurture Fund will help drive innovation and growth for small businesses so they can take up more opportunities in Australia and on the world stage,” Stone said.
“I’m really excited to help support the industry by helping to assess applications from fresh food businesses.”
Application forms for the Coles Nurture Fund are available at www.coles.com.au/nurturefund.