SEFA has built a strong and experienced team who are passionate about social enterprise and understand the challenges that these organisations face. Our experience is drawn from social finance, investment banking and private enterprise.
Ben Gales, Chief Executive Officer
Ben was formerly a Director at the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and has also worked in NSW Treasury, in venture capital in the US and UK, and in the UK Treasury. Ben brings to SEFA his extensive knowledge of social investment, having been involved in the development of Social Benefit Bonds in NSW and establishing the Phoenix Fund in the UK to support small enterprises in disadvantaged communities. He also has experience of small business equity investment from his time in venture capital in Silicon Valley in the US and Cambridge in the UK. Ben worked with small to medium size organisations and he is aware of the growth challenges and opportunities. This experience equips him well for understanding the needs of emerging social enterprises.
David Rickards, Managing Director
David was formerly the Head of Research and an Executive Director at Macquarie Bank. He coordinated a team based throughout Australia, Asia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for over 16 years. David is an authority on global equities and capital markets, with particular expertise in strategic analysis and risk assessment. He has recently retired from working at Macquarie and is now devoting himself to the establishment and growth of SEFA, where he is Managing Director. Before joining Macquarie he was responsible for establishing the risk management company BARRA International in Australia. David is also a Director and Treasurer of Bush Heritage Australia.
Mark Atherton, Senior Loans Manager
Mark has joined SEFA as Senior Loans Manager after recently returning from 3 years in Papua New Guinea. During this period, he was instrumental in establishing a SME business unit for PNG’s leading local bank helping to finance indigenous entrepreneurs. Mark has over 20 years’ experience in corporate, commercial and business banking in Australia, and has worked with a number of global banks, local banks and finance companies.
Phung Spyrou, Relationship Manager
Phung joined SEFA in July 2013 and manages our client relationships. She has over 10 years experience in banking, during which time she was involved in structuring financial solutions for her clients. She is keen to use her experience to assist social entrepreneurs in attaining both their social and financial goals. If you would like to discuss the ways that SEFA can partner with you to reach these goals, please don’t hesitate to contact Phung.
Alexandra de Blas, Communications and Marketing Manager
Alexandra de Blas has run de Blas Communications– a business specialising in sustainability and science communication – for the last five years. She is an award winning journalist with 25 years media experience. For eight years she was the voice of Earthbeat, ABC Radio National’s environment program. She has a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Studies (Hons). Her journalism awards include the 3rd World Water Forum Journalists prize, Japan; and the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award. She is a Vincent Fairfax Fellow and sits on the Editorial Advisory Board of Ecos, CSIRO’s sustainability magazine.Alexandra is based in Melbourne.
Sandra Kemp, Director of Operations
Sandra has worked in the finance industry for 15 years, the last 11 of which were with Macquarie Group in the role of Operations Manager, Macquarie Research. Sandra has extensive project management and operations experience in Australia and internationally. She has worked across the commercial and community/NFP sector and commenced her career with NSW Department of Land & Water Conservation as a Hydrologist. Sandra is currently completing her Masters of Information Studies and is using her extensive skills at SEFA to establish the business and processes that will support SEFA becoming Australia’s premier loan fund for social enterprises.