Many tropical biodiversity projects seek to combine development and conservation goals. Here, we assess the performance of a revolving fund, established by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), in delivering sustainable and equitable benefits to coastal community livelihood groups and individuals while ensuring that it did no apparent harm to the environment. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 103 loan recipients to determine changes in attitude, perception and behaviour. After a 9 month preparation phase the project succeeded in changing a community view towards the fund from being overwhelmingly pessimistic to overwhelmingly optimistic and then loaned IDR 602,977,400 (USD 66,261), with near perfect repayment rates thereafter (indicating financial sustainability). Most (92%) respondents thought that the fund had been a success, mainly (56%) because it had increased their perceived daily income. Even though most (59%) of the loan recipients met with FFI staff at least once per month on average during the project, the linkages between conservation and development were only understood by some (40%). Nevertheless, understanding was highest amongst the project's main target group, fishermen. Furthermore, nearly half of all respondents said they now acted if they found people fishing with spear guns or throwing litter into the sea (a violation of customary law), indicating a positive change in behaviour. Although this study cannot unambiguously demonstrate that this change was purely due to the fund, as FFI was conducting other conservation activities, it helped to develop a strong relationship with the community and create an enabling environment for implementing this broader set of activities.