About Us

Business Foundations is a not-for-profit provider of enterprise development services. It has been a remarkable journey from small beginnings, and today we help more than 5500 business people a year.

Our vision

Our vision is To improve the lives of Australians by assisting the community to become more enterprising, increase economic activity and ultimately assist in creating employment.

We achieve this by working with governments, the private sector, educational institutions, chambers of commerce, industry groups and entrepreneurs to improve the opportunities, support and capacity of small to medium firms.

We provide tailored, flexible services designed to help businesses at every stage of their life cycle — from start-ups finding their first customers to established firms in every sector, from entrepreneurs with bright ideas to businesses commercialising their latest innovation, from the online retailer working from their kitchen table to the enterprise developing an export empire.

Our business clients can be tiny, single-person firms or established employers with multi-million-dollar turnovers. For each firm, and at every level of development, we provide the same impartial, independent, professional advice.

Our history — it started with sandals

The work of Business Foundations began when a group of sandal makers at Fremantle Markets were given assistance by a Murdoch University PhD student Ernesto Sirolli back in the late 1980s. Ernesto was interested in enterprise creation as a means of creating regional economic development. By helping the sandal makers get in touch with expert mentors in the form of an Italian bootmaker — and by providing them specific business advice —he was able to help them improve their products, and income.

The sandal makers were so impressed by the help they received, they approached local authorities and business groups, arguing for a business facilitator to be employed in Fremantle full-time. Run out of the Fremantle Migrant Resource Centre, the new service would offer advice to anyone starting a business or business people looking to improve their operations.

By 1993, the State Government took a similar approach, funding a statewide network of agencies that could address enterprise development in a bid to combat high unemployment of about 10 per cent. Our Fremantle operation, already successfully providing these services, was funded as part of this network. Around the same time, the closure of the Old Fremantle Prison as a working jail meant that the remarkable heritage building became available for alternative uses. It was decided that a former cell block would be ideal as a business incubator, a way of helping new businesses take office space in a supportive environment until they were ready to graduate into commercial premises.

The incubator opened in 1997, at which point the organisation adopted the name Coastal Business Centre and expanded the services it was able to offer small businesses. We reached out to home-based businesses and began to build our reputation with already established firms. The new incubator meant businesses were able to have high-security offices as well as expert business advice on-site, and the success rate of these firms improved markedly. New contracts were attracted, from the Federal and local governments in addition to the State contract.

Today, our business services extend throughout Western Australia and nationally. We provide expert services to specific groups including start-ups, people looking to move from welfare to small business ownership, incubator tenants, the manufacturing sector, high-growth innovation businesses, and home-based firms.

But we also help any ordinary Australian business get the advice they need, through face-to-face support, group training, advisory services, mentoring and networking.

See how we can help your business.