If you’re exploring the world of social enterprise and its profound impact in Australia, this comprehensive guide will provide insights into the concept, its historical context, the political landscape, and its significance in comparison to traditional businesses and nonprofits.
The landscape of business and impact is evolving, and at the forefront of this transformation is the concept of social enterprise. Western Australia and Australia as a whole are witnessing a remarkable surge in social enterprise activity, as individuals and organisations seek innovative ways to tackle social and environmental challenges while ensuring financial sustainability. If you’re exploring the world of social enterprise and its profound impact in Australia, this comprehensive guide will provide insights into the concept, its historical context, the political landscape, and its significance in comparison to traditional businesses and nonprofits.
The seeds of social enterprise have deep historical roots, in Australia, indigenous communities have long embraced communal values, demonstrating a form of social enterprise by working together for the collective good. However, the modern social enterprise movement gained momentum in the late 20th century as global challenges spurred innovation.
The growth of social enterprises is also intertwined with the political landscape. Australian governments at various levels have recognised the potential of social enterprises to address societal challenges while reducing the burden on public services. Policies and initiatives have emerged to support social entrepreneurship, including funding opportunities, impact measurement frameworks, and business development support.
The growth of Social Procurement stands as a testament to the changing trend of fostering positive change through its purchasing power. Envisioned as a catalyst for economic, social, and environmental progress, this social procurement, lead by certification bodies like Social Traders focuses on leveraging government and corporate procurement to drive social value and enhance the well-being of local communities. By prioritising contracts with suppliers who demonstrate a dedication to social impact, Aboriginal engagement, and sustainable practices, Social Procurement not only bolsters the state’s economy but also paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.
Why Social Enterprise Is Needed:
Traditional business models often prioritize profit over social and environmental considerations, while nonprofits sometimes struggle to secure sustainable funding. Social enterprises bridge this gap by offering a hybrid model that leverages market dynamics to achieve positive social and environmental outcomes. They provide innovative solutions to pressing issues, from unemployment to environmental degradation, and offer a sustainable pathway to address these challenges. Social enterprises are different (though not legally) to traditional businesses and charities by:
Purpose-Driven Mission: While traditional businesses focus on financial gains and nonprofits on social impact, social enterprises merge these objectives. They operate with a core mission to create positive change while generating revenue to sustain their operations.
Sustainability: Social enterprises aim to achieve financial sustainability through revenue-generating activities, reducing dependence on grants or donations. This approach enhances their long-term impact and minimises volatility.
Innovation: Social enterprises often pioneer innovative solutions to societal problems, marrying creativity with market-driven strategies to create scalable and sustainable change.
Measurable Impact: Similar to nonprofits, social enterprises prioritise measuring their impact. However, their impact is balanced with financial outcomes.
In WA, we have a wide variety of diverse and highly impactful social enterprises. Link to database
Resources for Exploring Social Enterprise:
- Social Traders: A national organisation supporting social enterprises through certification, business development, and market access.
- WASEC: peak body providing resources and networking opportunities for social enterprises in WA.
- Social Change Central: An online platform connecting social entrepreneurs with resources, funding opportunities, and a vibrant community.
- Impact Seed Impact Seed is a Certified B Corporation. Impact Seed is Western Australia’s peak capacity builder for impact investment and social enterprise development.
- Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship: ACRE offers entrepreneurship education through the lens of social enterprise.
- Waaliji Foundation The Waalitj Hub is here to assist the Indigenous business sector thrive in WA by providing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to start, grow or sustain their businesses