Community Business

Australian company X2M takes 'smart energy' residential communities global

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

X2M CONNECT is setting up smart community grids in residential areas, with solar power offering participants a 40-50 percent reduction in energy costs and more efficient use of renewable energy.

A smart community is an enclave of households that all have solar power and then share excess solar energy, that they have not consumed, in a community battery which they get a credit for. This battery is then used to support local community buildings and, where they can, draw energy from the system when the sun isn’t shining.

“What we do is provide a solution that gives householders a 40-50 percent reduction in energy, much more efficient use of renewables and the ability to support the environment and reduce carbon emissions,” X2M Connect CEO, Mohan Jesudason told Talking Business

X2M is now building its market with its customer RESI Ventures. This will see smart community grids using renewables as well as using less energy.

“We have a little hub that goes into each home and it helps you manage your high energy use appliances like air conditioning and heating so you’re using more renewables, you’re drawing less from the grid and you’re reducing your carbon footprint,” Mr Jesudason said.

X2M has agreements in place with RESI and the RACV.

RESI Ventures is providing the real estate for the smart community grids and RACV is providing the solar panels.

Greenfield applications are ideal

“Clearly, greenfields discrete communities are tailor-made for this solution,” Mr Jesudason said.

“If you go to medium density housing, if you go to caravan parks, if you go to retirement villages, there’s a large base to tap.

“And indeed, we’re expecting 700,000-800,000 households in the next three years to be adding solar in Australia.”

RESI Ventures now has a smart community grid operating in Echuca.

“And of course, it’s a solution that’s transportable anywhere,” Mr Jesudason  said.

He said the response so far hds been positive, given the challenges of energy, rising electricity prices and concerns about the environment.

“With smart solutions that are affordable, you’re pushing against an open door,” he said.

“The fundamentals are: governments all around the world are encouraging a reduction in carbon, there are commitments being made to net zero. The population out there are demanding environmentally friendly solutions.

X2M Connect already going global

While it is based in the Melbourne suburb of Mt Waverly, X2M is a global company focused on the Asia-Pacific region.

Its business is digitising utilities in the Asia-Pacific with strong operations in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and China.

The technology had been developed over the past decade.

It has a block of patents that are registered in a number of markets such as the US, Asia-Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

“At this point in time, our focus is on the APAC region. We have an open mind as to the US and Europe but we don’t expect to move into those markets over the next couple of years,” Mr Jesudason said.

“Our priority is Australia and the broader APAC region. It’s a very big market.

“APAC has the largest population in the world, it’s the fastest growing, it’s urbanising, the governments have healthy balance sheets, they’re investing in infrastructure which includes technology.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Me Too Foundation 100% helps domestic violence affected families to recover

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

WHEN ENTREPRENEUR Andrew Curnow wanted to create a charity to support women and children rebuilding their lives – as they recover from domestic violence – he was struck by how many charities there were surrounding that issue. Everything from national charities to local ones.

So, instead, he set up the Me Too Foundation in Melbourne, which manufactures Australian made personal care products and donates 100 percent of its profits to registered charities supporting survivors of domestic violence in Australia.

At this stage, the Me Too Foundation interacts with larger national charities like Rise Up Australia and the White Ribbon Foundation, but he also plans to expand it to smaller local charities focused on domestic violence.

The Me Too Foundation manufactures body care and soap products which include hand wash, bath soap, hand cream, gift sets and candles, all with natural botanical fragrances.

The products are distributed to consumers directly and through retailers across the country. And 100 percent of the profits are donated to registered charities supporting survivors of domestic violence in Australia. 

More support needed beyond big donors

Mr Curnow said the big charities received donations from business but were looking for other funding to keep going.

He said there were also hundreds of grass-roots charities helping women re-establish themselves after fleeing domestic violence.

“It’s difficult for us as a new organisation to align with all those initially, that’s why we went for the two national ones,” Mr Curnow told Talking Business.

“But ideally the goal is to disseminate money through a lot of those smaller charities as well.  Money is so chronically needed, it’s so underfunded.”

The way it does that is by selling as many products as it can.

Going for ‘ethical consumption’

Mr Curnow said businesses like the Me Too Foundation were part of the trend now for ‘ethical consumption’. The toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap, which sells 100 percent recycled toilet paper and donates 50 percent of its profits to build toilets in the developing world, is a good example of that.

“There is a massive trend from consumers to these types of products where it’s noted that their dollars are going to a good cause – and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” Mr Curnow said. 

“I think people’s budgets are stretched already. We’re not asking for people to put their hand out and donate more money. We’re asking simply that they change their brand of hand wash or body wash and buy a Me Too Foundation hand wash knowing that, at a very similar price to what they’re paying already, it’s a quality product and [purchasers know] those profits will go to a very good cause and support a desperately needed issue in Australia.”

Mr Curnow’s ultimate goal is to bring in other business partners and license the Me Too brand.

“My goal is to do to domestic violence what the Pink Ribbon did for breast cancer research,” he said.

“When I first had this idea, I trademarked the logo that we designed in every single product category I could think of with the idea that once we get going, that we could galvanise an entire industry.

“We could get some really good business partners on board to license the brand and all of that licensing money will also be funnelled the same way that we are donating now.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Coles sports grants help Little Athletics clubs stay on track

COLES Little Athletics Community Fund is helping Little Athletics centres to stay on track with more than $250,000 in sports equipment grants to be distributed to 73 local centres across Australia for this summer’s season.

The latest round of grants takes Coles’ donation to grassroots Little Athletics centres to more than $2.2 million in four years. The funds help centres to buy new sports and safety equipment such as javelins, discuses, hurdles and defibrillators to support aspiring athletes and community volunteers.

This year’s grants have been made possible with money raised by Coles, its banana growers and customers during the inaugural Coles Little Athletics Banana A-Peel held earlier this year, when 10 cents of every kilogram of Cavendish bananas sold in Coles supermarkets was donated to the cause.

Coles Little Athletics Australia CEO Myles Foreman said the grants should “help centres immensely, particularly those severely impacted by the NSW and Queensland floods in February”.

“The past two seasons have been extremely testing for our clubs and centres who have battled numerous challenges such as COVID-19, floods and bushfires,” Mr Foreman said. 

“These natural disasters and the pandemic have not only impacted on Little Athletics centres’ ability to fundraise at a local level but it’s also had a huge impact on the morale of the centres. The grants from this round of the Coles Little Athletics Community Fund will not only help centres buy new equipment but it will lift the spirits of their volunteers, athletes and families for the new season.”

Coles general manager for corporate and Indigenous affairs, Sally Fielke said Coles was “delighted to continue to support grassroots Little Athletics through initiatives like the Coles Little Athletics Community Fund and banana donations”.

“Coles has been a proud supporter of Little Athletics for over five years, and we’re delighted to provide more than $250,000 in sports equipment grants to help local centres kickstart their new season,” Ms Fielke said.

“We’re very aware of the challenges local Little Athletics centres have faced over the past two years and we’re proud to do our bit to help them to recover and grow so that kids and families can continue to enjoy Little Athletics each week.”

Among the centres to receive a grant is Maryborough Amateur Athletics Club in Queensland whose clubrooms were under water seven months ago.

Club president Gavin Grantz said the grant would help the centre to rebuild and recover from the devastating floods.

“The floods last season destroyed some of our equipment and it also damaged our buildings, grounds and canteen equipment, which means that our ability to fundraise this season will be severely impacted,” Mr Grantz said.

 “The grant from Coles will allow volunteers to concentrate on training the athletes rather than constant fundraising as the club is still needing to pay for other repairs to the grounds.  It will help us to buy a new trolley for our volunteers to move equipment safely and efficiently and the new hurdles and javelins will provide a more enjoyable experience for our athletes.”

In addition to providing more than $2.2 million in equipment grants, Coles has donated more than 3.7 million bananas to Little Athletics centres since 2017.


Registered charities see benefits of Qld reform cutting red tape

RED TAPE cuts for all Australian charities that conduct fundraising are now in place, with the latest reform now taking effect in Queensland.

Charities that conduct fundraising in Queensland, which are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), are now only required to report information about their fundraising activities to the ACNC in their Annual Information Statement.

The ACNC will share that information with Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading, eliminating the need for charities to report to two government bodies.

In addition, Queensland incorporated associations that are also registered charities can now report once to the ACNC and this will satisfy their reporting obligations to the Queensland regulator.

Acting ACNC Commissioner Deborah Jenkins said it was a big step to reduce the burden on charities. 

“We know charities want to focus on their main goals — to help people, animals, the environment and a range of causes. Many rely on fundraising to achieve their goals, so this reform matters to charities a great deal,” Ms Jenkins said.

“Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading has worked with us to streamline the processes around reporting and fundraising, and we are grateful for the collaboration to achieve this mutually beneficial outcome.”

Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Fair Trading, Shannon Fentiman said the reduction in duplicated reporting would save more than 5,000 Queensland organisations precious time and money.

“Incorporated associations, charities, and community purpose organisations are a vital part of Queensland communities and our economy, and I’m pleased that so many will benefit from this reduction in regulatory obligations so they can focus on their core purpose of helping others,” Ms Fentiman said.

Ms Jenkins said the ACNC was proud to have reached agreements with all state and territory jurisdictions over the past few years to achieve significant red tape cuts, and the ACNC looked forward to working with them to make further progress.

“Red tape reduction is a priority for us,” Ms Jenkins said. “One of the ACNC’s objects is to promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations. There remains much to do, however, we are celebrating this significant step.”

All Australian charities can now submit their 2022 Annual Information Statement to the ACNC. This applies to the majority of charities that report to the ACNC on a financial year basis.

See more about the ACNC’s red tape reduction here.


Just Jeans, Lorna Jane, Myer on Oxfam's critical Naughty list

OXFAM WANTS MAJOR FASHION retailers and brands in Australia – such as Just Jeans, Lorna Jane, Myer and Peter Alexander – to be open about how and where they manufacture their clothes, to help lift the women who make them out of poverty.

Oxfam made the call ahead of the Black Friday and Christmas sales period, with the international development and human rights organisation released its updated Naughty or Nice list. The list is a crucial one for responsible fashion brands and retailers to be on the right side of in making commitments around living wages and avoiding being 'called out' to do better. 

Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain said it was particularly unfortunate that some brands had failed to make commitments to ensure the payment of a living wage during the pandemic, "a time when the industry has grown yet many garment workers have lost their jobs". 

A living wage means enough money is earned to cover basic essentials for a family including food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transport, education and some money for unexpected events.  

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant, which is why transparency around issues of power, whether business or politics, is so important,” Ms Morgain said. 

“Three major clothing companies in Australia – Lorna Jane, Myer and The Just Group – have failed to take the basic step of publishing key information about where they manufacture their clothes. 

“It’s particularly disappointing to see brands that promote the wellbeing of women, such as Lorna Jane, failing to be transparent about the factories in which their clothes are made. This supports a culture of secrecy that is harmful to the wellbeing of all women, including those who make our clothes, and entrenches the massive power disparity between brands and garment workers.” 

While those three companies have found themselves on the Naughty list, others have taken positive steps towards backing up their commitment to a living wage. Those on the Nice list this year are Best & Less, Big W, Bonds, City Chic, Cotton On, Country Road, Dangerfield, David Jones, Forever New, Gorman, H&M, Kmart, Mosaic brands including Rivers and Katies, and Target. 

Oxfam’s recent report, Shopping for a Bargain, revealed that poor business practices – including aggressive price negotiation, inaccurate forecasting of orders, short lead times and last-minute changes to order – are having a profound impact on the lives of workers. 

“To help combat this, last year we asked brands to commit to separating out labour costs to ensure there was clarity between factories and brands about the expectations of payment to garment workers. It’s been so heartening to see so many brands step up to the plate,” Ms Morgain said. 

Meanwhile, other brands – such as Jeans West and Zara – have made some progress, but still have work to do to catch up to the Nice brands on their living wage journey. 

“What is at the heart of this issue is the garment workers – mainly women in low-income countries – who make our clothes. These women aren’t paid enough to build a better future for their children, because their low wages keep them in poverty. 

“It’s time for Australian brands to acknowledge and use the power they have to ensure these women are empowered to lift themselves out of poverty through the payment of a living wage.  

“This Christmas, we want shoppers to demand better from the brands they love so that our celebrations don’t come at the expense of the women who make our clothes and their families.” 

Oxfam's 2021 Naughty or Nice list is here



New CBA-Lifeline partnership to help meet record mental health demand

A NEW $500,000 donation from Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is helping Lifeline meet record demand and support thousands of Australians in crisis, Lifeline Australia chairman John Brogden and Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn said in a joint statement.. 

“Demand for Lifeline has smashed records this year and we’re on track to take more than 1.2 million calls by the end of the year," Lifeline's Mr Brogden said.

“Just two years ago we were averaging under 2,500 calls a day, today we are regularly seeing more than 3,500 – a 40 percent increase.

“The good news is that with the support of partners like Commonwealth Bank, we’re answering more calls than ever before. Australians are reaching out for help and they are getting it, supported by generous donations like this,” Mr Brogden said.  

Commonwealth Bank's Mr Comyn said, "As many Australians continue to face a variety of personal challenges during these difficult times, we know that this is not just a physical health pandemic. 

“The impact on people's  mental health has been significant and should not be underestimated. It’s important that we acknowledge the huge contribution organisations like Lifeline make in providing care and assistance to people and communities when they need it most.

"We hope this contribution will allow Lifeline to support even more people when they reach out for help,” Mr Comyn said. 

Mr Brogden said a donation like this was crucial, with unprecedented demand expected to continue into the future with the pandemic and lockdown restrictions leaving a long tail of trauma in the community. 

“We want everyone to know that Lifeline is always there for them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.

“If you, or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to connect with Lifeline in the way you feel most comfortable. Phone us to speak to a Crisis Supporter on 13 11 14.” 

Lifeline is Australia’s leading suicide prevention service, operating the 13 11 14 telephone line within 40 centres around the nation.




Canon Oceania Grants Program supports small businesses again

CANON Oceania has opened submissions for the second year to Australian small businesses for its 2021 Grants Program. 

Canon Oceania managing director Akira ‘Dave’ Yoshida said, in the spirit of Canon’s guiding philosophy of Kyosei – which means living and working together for the common good – over the last 15 years, Canon Oceania has supported more than 75 schools, not-for-profits and community groups with more than $420,000.

“Australian communities and organisations have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. As the JobKeeper program has drawn to a close, it’s important for us to get behind small businesses and support their shift from survival to recovery mode,” Mr Yoshida said. 

“Last year we extended our Grants Program to include small businesses for the first time and we were thrilled to see the positive impact this delivered. 

“Looking ahead, it’s imperative that small businesses not only adjust to the ‘new normal’ but are set up for success in the future. We’re committed to helping our local business community navigate a COVID-19 world.” 

That is why Canon is once again including a small business category in its Grants Program, he said.

Winners will also be selected from two additional categories: Community, which is open to organisations ranging from not-for-profits, to grassroots groups and environmental causes; and Education, which is open to schools and other educational centres for children and adults alike.

Winners will be selected based on the strength of their initiative and the impact it will have on their community or business. 

Each grant recipient will receive $5000 in cash and Canon products, ranging from cameras and printers, to projectors and other accessories. This year the value of the Grants will be equally divided between cash and equipment – $2500 each – reflecting organisations’ greater need for cash to help rebuild themselves in a weaker economy. The split prior to 2020 was $1000 in cash and $4000 in products. 

Mr Yoshida said, “At Canon, we believe the Kyosei philosophy is something we live and breathe every day, so we’re pleased to continue supporting small businesses as they take the important next steps towards recovery.” 

The winner of the 2020 Small Business Grant was Dogs for Kids with Disabilities, an organisation that raises and trains assistance and therapy dogs for children whose everyday activities are restricted by emotional, physical and intellectual challenges. They used their prizes from the grant to create videos that drive awareness of their work among the wider community. This awareness has been imperative in helping Dogs for Kids secure sponsors so that they have the means to continue their important work for children with disabilities.

“The Canon equipment has been wonderful in enabling us to create educational videos to promote the work of our amazing volunteers, staff, families and of course, our incredible dogs,” Dogs for Kids with Disabilities chair, Tracey Harris said.

“Educating the community and attracting new sponsors has been critical during the lockdown period,” she said. “At the same time, it’s been very rewarding to connect with our community through the love of assistance dogs.

“For any small business in need of support – big or small – I encourage you to apply for Canon Oceania Grants.” 

Telethon Speech and Hearing, an independent school offering therapy services for children with hearing loss and speech delays, was another worthy 2020 winner. Telethon’s grant was used to develop a ‘mobile pack’ to facilitate tele-therapy sessions. 

“During lockdown, the prize money and cameras from the Canon Grant allowed us to facilitate online delivery of high-quality learning to families in remote Western Australia,” Telethon Speech and Hearing CEO Mark Fitzpatrick said.  

“A highlight has been providing children in our Chatterbox Program (aged up to five years) and their families with access to specialised teachers, regardless of their location. Thanks to Canon, we’ve been able to conduct virtual intervention, ensuring that distance isn’t a barrier to quality support for children in the early years of development.” 

The winner of the 2020 Community Grant, Action for Dolphins, is working to stop cruelty and gain legal protection for dolphins. The organisation is using equipment supplied by the grant for everything from recording evidence of animals trapped in underwater nets to recording interviews with experts. 

“We were lucky enough to receive the Canon Grant which enabled us to create a video warning against illegal handfeeding of dolphins on North Stradbroke Island,” Action for Dolphins CEO Hannah Tait said.  

“The video was displayed on the ferry to the island, educating visitors as well as our local community about how to end activities that harm marine life.”

The 2021 grants will be awarded under the following categories: 

1 x Small Business Grant – $5000 
Open to any for-profit entity that employs fewer than 20 people and have less than A$10 million aggregated turnover (according to ABS and ATO guidelines). 

1 x Community Grant – $5000 
Open to a range of organisations keeping their community at the heart of what they do, ranging from not-for-profits, to grassroots groups and environmental causes. 

1 x Education Grant – $5000 
Open to schools and other educational centres for children and adults alike. 

1 x Runner-up Grant – $1000 
A runner up will be selected from any of the categories above. 

Submissions are now open until Friday July 30. The wider community will vote on finalists in August, and winners will be announced in September.



Contact Us


PO Box 2144