Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia, 16–18 November 2021 2021

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Matt Pfahlert

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, ACRE (Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship)

Matt Pfahlert


Driving community-led rejuvenation through entrepreneurial action

The issues behind the decline of rural and regional Australia are complex and require multi-pronged solutions.

In 2013 the Co-founder of ACRE undertook a Churchill Fellowship study to uncover how rural communities can journey from being ‘on their knees’ to thriving again. Drawing on the experience of more than 100 rural locations worldwide, Matt Pfahlert identified essential ingredients:


Matt is one of Australia’s pioneering social entrepreneurs.

He started his first social enterprise in 1993 at the age of 23, working with ‘at risk’ young people in wilderness settings. For this work, in 1996 he received the Young Australian of the Year Award.

Matt is co-founder and CEO of ACRE (Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship), a social enterprise that exists to build the renewal of Australia’s rural communities so that future generations may thrive.

In 2016, ACRE led a $2.7M community buy-back of the Old Beechworth Gaol, a neglected Australian heritage icon famed for its connection to Ned Kelly located in Matt’s hometown. The site is being repurposed as an exemplar of social enterprise, impact investment and rural rejuvenation through community owned assets.

Other awards/positions include: 2003 Leadership Victoria - Community leader of the Year 2004 Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow 2013 Churchill Fellow 2018 International Specialised Skills Fellow 2003-2012 Telstra Foundation Board