22 September 2015

What is it? Where are we heading?

Author :

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” 
Bill Drayton, Leading Social Entrepreneurs Changing the World

Most of us recognise the word ‘social enterprise’ but not many of us are aware of what they do.

The definition of social enterprise varies across the globe due to differing policies and regulations. In Australia, social enterprises are organisations that exist to fulfil a mission consistent with public or community benefit, trade to fulfil that mission, and reinvest a substantial proportion of their profit or surplus in the fulfilment of mission (Barraket et al., 2010).

A widely known social enterprise is Thankyou Water who won the youth led social enterprise of the year award in 2013 (hosted by Social Traders). They sell bottled water in Australia to fund water projects in developing countries. The purchase of a bottle of water is estimated to provide at least one month of safe drinking water to those in need. The organisation was created in 2008, and has provided funds over $347,689 and helped over 18,800 people across Cambodia, Uganda, Kenya, Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The concept of a social enterprise may sound straightforward but it is very difficult to implement in practice and takes years to get the internal strategies and processes correct.    

This year’s social enterprise awards recognised the efforts and achievements of some of the best social enterprises in Australia. Here is a list of 2015 winners:

·         Australian Social Enterprise of the Year (Small): Nundah Community Enterprises Cooperative Ltd (Qld)

·         Australian Social Enterprise of the Year (Large): Salvos Legal Limited and Salvos Legal (Humanitarian) Limited (NSW)

·         One to Watch Award: Pollinate Energy (VIC)

·         Social Enterprise Innovation Award: Sprout (WA)

·         Social Enterprise Investment Award (tied): STREAT (VIC) & Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Food Justice Truck (VIC)

·         Buy Social Award: Good Samaritan Industries (on behalf of the Western Australia Disability Enterprise Alliance)

·         Social Enterprise Champion Award: Luke Terry  

Another successful example of a social enterprise is The Fair Trade Coffee Company which was established in August 2006 as the first fair trade café in Sydney. The organisation has a goal to alleviate poverty while empowering producers in developing countries. It has an annual turnover of $500,000 and has been successfully created a space in the market for high quality fair trade tea and coffee. 

Many of the younger upcoming entrepreneurs are keen to make a social difference using their commercial business skills. Due to the high demand in this space, the Macquarie Graduate School of Management has set up Australia's first master of social entrepreneurship. Haski-Leventhal, senior lecturer from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management said that “A social enterprise can be a not-for-profit, or a business, or any kind of entity that the social entrepreneurs try to create”
Due to the declining government funding there is a clear need for Not-for-Profits to innovate and social enterprise might just be the solution.
When Aranei was seven she truly believed she could one day train turtles in the Galapagos. Unfortunately she came to the realization that such a thing could never happen. A couple of years later, she decided to be a conference producer and has never looked back. The best part of her role is exploring different sectors and getting in-depth insights from thought leaders and well-experienced specialists from varying sectors.         


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