Speakers Profile - David Bussau, AM

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David Bussau is a pioneer of microfinance, having founded Opportunity International Australia and co-founded the Opportunity International Network.

A successful entrepreneur himself, David started life in an Anglican boys' home and launched his business career at the age of 15 with a rented hotdog stand. Twenty years later, and with numerous successful businesses to his credit, he 'retired', having reached what he refers to as the 'economics of enough'.

In 1974, with his young family in tow, David travelled to Darwin and headed up a national movement to assist the victims of Cyclone Tracey. Soon after, he began aid work in Bali, Indonesia to help with an earthquake recovery program. At this time, he noticed that traditional development solutions did little to break the cycle of poverty.

It was during this time in Indonesia when David gave the first small loan of $50 to a struggling Indonesian farmer, Ketut Suwiria. The small loan enabled Ketut to buy a sewing machine and start his tailoring business.
Today Ketut runs an import/export business and owns a fleet of taxis, providing a wide range of employment for his local community.

David provided finance to a further 20 people -- achieving dramatic results. These flourishing small businesses not only provided for the basic needs of poor families, they also gave the entrepreneurs confidence, dignity and self respect.

As loan after loan was repaid and the original investments reapplied to new opportunities, David clearly demonstrated that small loans could achieve amazing returns. David was inspired. He sold his businesses and established Maranatha Trust to provide small amounts of capital to people in poverty so they could become entrepreneurs in their own environments.

The foundation was committed to responsible wealth creation and entrepreneurship, believing this is the best way to alleviate global poverty. David truly believes that there are many creative and talented people -- all they need is an opportunity. He recognises that the key to building any small business is access to credit.

During the same time, another business man on the other side of the world, Al Whittaker, had been trialling a similar concept in South America. Both convinced that no single group can tackle poverty alone, in 1979 the two men joined forces to form the organisation that is now known as Opportunity International.

Today, David's vision has resulted in a global network of organisations providing microfinance and support services throughout more than 25 countries around the world. Active for over 40 years, Opportunity International currently provides a hand up out of poverty for more than 3.7 million people.

Now retired from Opportunity, David continues his work by providing consultancy services to governments, multinationals and other organisations.

David has been recognised for the amazing work he has done in the international development sector: chosen by The Bulletin magazine "as one of Australia's 10 most creative minds"; awarded the Order of Australia for services to international development; named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 and awarded Senior Australian of the Year 2008.