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Umbo announces investment to improve healthcare access


Umbo, a social enterprise aiming to reduce inequalities in access to healthcare by connecting families in rural communities with speech and occupational therapists, received a $200,000 investment from social enterprise investor Fortis River Pty Ltd, with Pilgrim Advisors advising the process.

This investment represents a significant win for rural and regional families, who often wait up to 18 months to access services such as speech and occupational therapy.

The investment into Umbo will enable the social enterprise to scale its ability to onboard more clients and clinicians, therefore increasing its reach in rural Australia, and cut wait times down for more families. It will also support Umbo to develop regionally-based partnerships with other service providers working to assist families in need of support.

Investment into social impact

The investment from Fortis River comes one week after Umbo released their Social Impact Framework, which includes impact measures such as time saved from waitlists, travel time to therapy appointments, and cost savings. Overall Umbo has seen travel cost savings of $225,000, which enable families to double the amount of therapy they can receive from NDIS funding.

Umbo has, on average, saved 14 hours of travel time per family. This decrease in travel time has saved the carbon equivalent of 60 return flights from Sydney to Melbourne.

Umbo Co-Founder and Speech Pathologist, Ed Johnson says, “This is a big win for families all over Australia struggling to access timely, person-centred support from speech pathologists and occupational therapists.”

“It breaks my heart when families tell me they’ve spent 2 years on a waiting list, or they’ve been doing 6-hour round trips weekly to see a clinician, or an outreach clinic came through their remote town to screen and diagnose their child, then left without any options for therapy.

We have the evidence that online therapy works, and now we’ve got the means to help as many families as possible.”

Fortis River director Nigel Strong added, “We are delighted to complete this investment and I thank the Umbo founders and employees and Pilgrim Advisors for such a constructive and positive process. Umbo is providing an important service and we are excited to support them in the next phase.”

Investment into social enterprise

The $200,000 investment comes off the back of a successful Scaling Impact program in 2020, run by Social Impact Hub, which has helped Umbo improve its investment readiness and facilitated the introduction between Umbo and their investor.

Jessica Roth, Founder and Director at Social Impact Hub, says, “We’re pleased to have played a key role in supporting Umbo along their investment readiness journey and to have introduced them to Fortis River. This is exactly the type of outcome we are aiming for with the Scaling Impact accelerator program.”

Funded through the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Sidney Myer Fund, together with support from Ernst & Young and the English Family Foundation, the Scaling Impact accelerator focuses on addressing the needs of social start-ups at a crucial point in their development – the inflection point between building on a proven track record and preparing to take on impact investment.

About Umbo

Umbo is a speech and occupational therapy service established in 2018 which aims to meet the needs of children living in regional, rural and remote Australia who need allied health support.

Umbo provides children with therapy in an online format which includes video conferencing, file sharing, online chat, and phone calls. As a social enterprise, Umbo is committed to reinvesting 50% of its profit back into the company to reach more vulnerable communities.



Original story found on the Third Sector Australia website. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.


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