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Rabobank launches Rabo Community Fund to support rural communities

Food and agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has launched the Rabo Community Fund to invest in the vitality of rural communities in New Zealand.

The new fund is based on the international Rabo Foundation, the global agricultural banking cooperative’s social fund, which has operated for more than 45 years investing in farmers’ self-sufficiency in a range of countries around the world.

Funded by an annual contribution from Rabobank New Zealand & Australia, the Rabo Community Fund has launched with an initial AUD$2 million (NZD$2.12 million), which is being invested in a range of initiatives to benefit rural and regional communities around New Zealand and Australia identified by the bank’s local Client Councils.

The Client Councils – which operate across four agricultural regions of New Zealand and seven in Australia – are groups of Rabobank’s farming client representatives who work with the bank to address key industry and community challenges in farming and agribusiness, which are linked to five key themes:

1. long-term industry capacity
2. environmental sustainability
3. rural/Urban divide
4. rural health
5. adaptation/disruption.

 Rabobank Financial Skills Workshop which took place in Taupo earlier this year

Rabobank Financial Skills Workshop which took place in Taupo earlier this year

The fund will invest in initiatives under these themes and may also be used to support rural communities in the event of a natural disaster.

Initiatives earmarked for funding by the Rabo Rural Community Fund in the first year in New Zealand include:

  • Financial Skills Workshops – a practical hands-on programme to build the financial capacity of the next generation of producers and farmers,
  • Growing Future Farmers – a structured two-year educational course which provides graduates with specialised agricultural industry training and development opportunities and
  • Surfing for Farmers – a summer programme which gets farmers off-farm and into the surf to enhance mental health and well-being.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Todd Charteris said the new fund demonstrated the bank’s commitment to a thriving and sustainable rural sector.

"As one of the the largest lenders to New Zealand’s food and agricultural sector, it's in our DNA to grow and strengthen the rural communities where our clients live,” he said.

“And what’s really unique about the Rabo Community Fund is that we are giving our Client Council members a voice as representatives of those communities by putting the power in their hands to advise us on what initiatives should be funded to address the challenges and opportunities in their local area.”

Mr Charteris said the fund will operate under a cooperative model where Client Councils will identify and implement the initiatives being funded, while a five-person committee formed of Rabobank staff will oversee the performance and activities of the fund.

“This fund is not intended as a grants program for individual farmers, but is there to address the wider challenges in agriculture at a local level, such as building industry capacity, addressing labour and skills shortages and rural health.”

Dairy farmer and chair of the Lower South Island Client Council, Megan Templeton, said the major injection of funding will expand the Client Councils’ ability to build resilience in agriculture and rural communities.

“The new fund will ramp up the size and scale of projects implemented by the Client Councils,” Megan said.

“At a local level it will really help to address some of the key challenges impacting rural communities. Our focus is to be aware of the challenges as they arise, and help to find constructive solutions that empower our regions. If people feel confident about the future prospects for their rural community, then they will stay in the local area, seek local employment and invest in the local economy."

For more information on the Rabo Community Fund visit Rabo Community Fund.


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has nearly 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of about 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 branches throughout New Zealand.

Media contacts:

David Johnston
Marketing & Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525