Social good starts with your home
Social good starts with your home


Social good starts with your home

/ August 18, 2022

There’s an assumption that to do good in the world, you have to be in the helping professions, earn a lot of money or be established before you can make a difference. Samuel Philipos – Principal Mortgage Broker and Managing Director at Benevolence Financial Group – turns this idea on its head, making the maxim ‘start where you are with what you have’ not just true for changing the world, but something everyone can achieve. Because together, we all have more power than we realise.

Since Macquarie Matters last caught up with MQ alumni Samuel Philipos in early 2020, when the Benevolence Financial Group (BFG) had just launched out of MQ’s Incubator, there’s no doubt he’s making good on his promise to have an impact one home loan at a time by investing 50 percent of BFG profits to build homes for families in need.

Fresh from being a Best Newcomer finalist in this year’s TheAdviser Better Business Awards – after winning last year’s Best Community Engagement Program Award – the company keeps going from strength to strength. ‘It’s been a phenomenal journey so far,’ says Samuel.

It’s been challenging, for sure. After all, who would choose to start a business at the beginning of a pandemic? But, together with cofounder Mitchelle Katsande, the pair has remained steadfast in their belief that being mindful about which home loan you choose can be a force for good in the world.

‘We’ve just hit our second anniversary, which is super exciting,’ says Samuel, for whom BFG is more than just a business. It’s fulfilling the dream of home ownership for millennials in particular, who don’t just want to get their foot on the property ladder; they want their biggest purchase to mean something beyond filling the pockets of bank shareholders.

And they’re doing it. People are now increasingly choosing and referring BFG for the simple reason that when they get a home, someone in need does too. Whether that’s locals affected by bushfires or families in the Asia-Pacific region, BFG has initiated partnerships with organisations such as Habitat for Humanity to ensure ongoing assistance, and is also agile enough to respond to current crises, such as the floods, with select partners.

Samuel’s drive to help others stems from his early experiences returning to Sudan, where his parents are from, and witnessing extreme poverty. ‘We’re very fortunate in Australia,’ he says, very aware it could easily have been him begging on the street in 50-degree heat if he’d been born in a different country.

It has definitely inspired Samuel to give back. His reasons for leveraging what he acknowledges is a privileged position go even deeper though – and reflect a broader trend in the workplace. ‘I know that fulfilment can only come from really caring for others and helping others grow and succeed,’ he says.  and you know he means it.

And he’s not alone. For all the misconceptions about millennials, they are the generation that statistically cares the most about social issues. As a result, many are reimagining not just how their money is spent and invested – from toilet paper to superannuation – but also how business is fundamentally carried out to achieve a balance between profit and impact, while ensuring it is replicable and sustainable into the future. It’s called social entrepreneurship.

‘Working in a sustainable way for the planet, for people and for profit is not mutually exclusive,’ he notes, adding that he was inspired to act when the personal care brand Thankyou, which aims to end poverty, was used as a case study at the MQ Incubator.

Being aware that others his age were taking the leap into social responsibility was a game-changer for Samuel. He remembers, ‘All of a sudden, I realised you could have a successful business and make a meaningful difference. It was pivotal.’

And so, harnessing his background in banking to start BFG from the ground up, the proof you can most definitely do both is to be found in the company’s evolution and, ultimately, the impact they are having.

In just two years, the company has grown from two founders to a team of 11, with offices in Sydney and Melbourne. ‘We’ve expanded our team in the last quarter and are experiencing a lot of really great momentum,’ says Samuel. ‘We started with nothing; it was all kind of bootstrapped. So, to get to that level of growth has been huge.’

True to his Macquarie roots, the company now has four staff working flexibly out of an office at the Incubator and are the only social enterprise, notes Samuel proudly. ‘We were working out of cafes and libraries but quickly realised it wasn’t going to work long-term, so we went through the application process and were thrilled when we got in; it’s an inspiring place to be.’

There’s no doubt it’s an exciting time for the company, with travel to Brisbane for events and collaborations and the opening of a Melbourne office in February this year. ‘There was a lot of interest in the business from Melbourne,’ says Samuel, who was working between Sydney and Melbourne when we spoke. ‘It’s great to have a presence here; the social enterprise space in Melbourne is quite advanced.’

The last two years have had their challenges, too. As Samuel notes, ‘On reflection, there are some things we would have done differently, but it’s been great to go through that experience to grow and learn.’

Throughout it all, though, Samuel and Mitchelle have remained true to their business structure, investing 50 per cent of profits into affordable housing for families in need. ‘From an impact point of view, we’ve now donated over $17,000 this financial year, which is exceptional for a start-up.’

But Samuel isn’t stopping there. The trusted company, which is growing exponentially through word of mouth, is on track to serve one percent of Australian homebuyers by 2030, which translates to not just 60,000 families getting into the property market, but over $50 million in donations in the next ten years.

‘Our focus now is on growing and scaling up the business so we can have an even greater impact – it’s all interconnected; the more clients we have, the more impact we can have,’ he says with dedication and passion in his voice.

Want to do good and get your mortgage sorted? Benevolence Financial Group has theaw exclusive offers for Macquarie University alumni:

  • Have your home loan fee waived for the first year (up to $400 per customer offer)
  • Access digital tools, such as the First Home Government Schemes Finder, Borrowing Capacity Calculator, Loan Health Check and property reports (usually $49/report)
  • Attend tailored community educational seminars/webinars and make an informed decision.

To learn more, contact the Benevolence Financial Group, confirming your degree and year of completion. 

Principal Mortgage Broker & Managing Director Samuel Philipos founded Benevolence Financial Group (BFG) after simply asking, what if we could change the world while doing what we always do? With a deep hunger to make positive change on the things that truly matter, Samuel believes social entrepreneurship can solve many of the fundamental problems in the world, such as hunger, poverty, accommodation and education. As an experienced banker and mortgage broker with a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commence (Entrepreneurship) (2020) from Macquarie University, Samuel finds fulfilment in contributing to the home-buying dreams of customers while ensuring those who need shelter can access it.

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