Chris Croker is our Managing Director and a passionate advocate for sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Infrastructure.
So often in funds management, we get caught up in the spreadsheets, logistics and forecasts that we detach from the people underpinning many infrastructure projects. We do things differently at Impact Investment Partners. We value human connection, people's stories and we place community needs at the heart of all our investment projects. So in the first of a series of interviews we wanted to introduce ourselves and help you get to know the people behind the expertise.
What is your background?
I'm born in the Northern Territory, and my family are the Luritja people of the Central Desert. I grew up in Darwin, spent a lot of time in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the desert communities around Watarrka (Kings Canyon) and Uluru; and also worked in many other communities in Victoria, the Top End, Queensland and Western Australia. I have worked in the mining industry as a Mining Engineer and mining manager. For many years I have worked as a business consultant with one of the global business strategy firms, and I have also enjoyed other business executive roles.
What drew you to be a part of Impact Investment Partners?
Impact Investment Partners is a unique proposition. It combines my Indigenous social knowledge, with my engineering knowledge of 'building real assets', with my business strategy skills. I think our Indigenous Infrastructure Investment Fund provides the first opportunity of its kind in Australia. It's an exciting opportunity. Maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to address some of the significant barriers faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We are developing a smart way to utilise the capital (or dollars) of people or organisations that are already interested in addressing social issues.
How would you describe your new Indigenous Infrastructure Investment Fund?
We came up with the idea for the IIIF after working on providing business and strategic advice to Indigenous communities and investigating investment opportunities for Indigenous communities over the past three years. Impact Investment Partners is the 'Investment Manager' for the IIIF. We will find, develop and manage all the investments in the infrastructure projects on behalf of the investors. As managing director, I ensure that the dual outcomes – Indigenous Social benefits and financial benefits for all investors, is achieved.
This is a great investment opportunity; that will achieve good commercial returns for all investors and great social benefits, directly for Indigenous people but indirectly for the country as a whole.
What is your vision for Impact Investment Partner's projects?
The dream can be as big as we can dream. Imagine an Indigenous owned school or university, that actively teaches bi-lingual, places real importance on sharing Indigenous knowledge and culture with all students – Indigenous or not. One where the majority of teachers or lecturers are Indigenous, the support staff are Indigenous, the support businesses are Indigenous. Indigenous arts and cultural artefacts aren't just hung on walls or placed in the corner but are proudly included in the everyday function of the centre. How different would that educational facility look and feel and how different would be the educational outcomes for Indigenous and just as importantly non-Indigenous students? That is a long way off, but by starting with the 'easy' assets – Electricity, Water, Health and retail, we can begin to make an impact … while still providing financial returns for our Indigenous and non-Indigenous investors.