18th March 2021
Launch of Council to Build Western Australia’s Inclusive Economy – The WA Social Enterprise Council (WASEC)
2020 saw disruption to ‘business-as-usual’ in a way that most of us haven’t experienced in our lifetimes. At this time of unprecedented social and economic change, and against the backdrop of an historic WA State Election, WASEC has been formed by leaders in Western Australia’s social enterprise sector to build a new economy that places community, employee and environmental impact outcomes on an equal footing with sustainable financial returns.
WASEC will advocate for and work with new social enterprises and existing WA businesses that want to transform for social impact outcomes, with the vision of establishing a thriving, collaborative social enterprise sector in Western Australia.
“We need greater business model innovation in WA. Many NFP’s need to become more financially sustainable, while ‘For-Profit’ companies need to better understand the enormous benefits of integrating social and environmental outcomes into their traditional business models. This is not token CSR. This is a new way of operating. We need a system to recognise and support these business models and the growing number of high impact social enterprises. WASEC is committed to helping build this ecosystem in WA” said Vanessa Rauland, CEO of ClimateClever and WASEC Co-Chair.
“Social Enterprise has the power to achieve awesome social outcomes in a way that other larger enterprises are unable to” said Amanda Healy, CEO of Kirrikin and WASEC Board member.
Sven Stenvers, Impact Seed Founding Director and WASEC Board Member said “As a new economic reality emerges from 2020, social enterprises stand ready with the capacity to address some of our most intractable social, environmental and economic challenges, through the power of impact-driven business models. Creation of a State Social Enterprise Strategy is an opportunity for the State Government to take a ‘best-practice’ policy leadership approach, and actively participate in the development of the social enterprise sector in our state”
Ben Cole, CEO of Wide Open Agriculture and WASEC Board member said “Social enterprises offer a new opportunity to embrace the challenges we all face through delivering a for-profit model but with a clear, defined measure of impact across social and environmental issues. WASEC was founded to demonstrate that now is a the time for social enterprises to step out of the background and show leadership”.
“Fostering and cultivating a space for nimble, creative and financially sustainable social enterprises is a responsible strategy that our state needs to adopt, to solve the complexity of crises emerging from COVID19. Right now, the gap isn’t the supply of investable social enterprises in WA, but a lack of mainstream and diverse growth opportunities, like there have been in the eastern states for over a decade” said Pat Ryan, CEO of Dismantle and WASEC Board Member.
“There can be a misconception that it is not possible to achieve social outcomes while remaining financially sustainable; but it has been proven across many industries, states and countries this is not necessarily the case. The development of WASEC has come at a crucial time and will provide opportunities for social enterprises, government and the private sector to innovate and collaborate in a meaningful and sustainable manner” said CEO of Underground Collaborative and WASEC Co-Chair Katie Liew.
“Western Australia has an amazing opportunity right now to enable the growth of the Social Enterprise sector, building on our rich diversity of established social enterprises and the lessons that other States have learnt in how best to support growth.” said Kathleen Burton, WASEC Board member and CEO of Perth City Farm.
WASEC will provide ethical, values-driven stewardship and a collective voice for the WA social enterprise sector to promote market development including:
- Social procurement across government, business and not for profit sectors;
- Social enterprise definition and accreditation;
- Robust impact & outcomes measurement frameworks;
- Fit-for-purpose legal and financial structures and support
Other jurisdictions have supported their social enterprise sectors directly, and encouraged procurement being directed to social enterprises by the private sector. The evidence for this government policy support is compelling*.
With the launch of WASEC following on from a landmark State Election we call upon the McGowan government to recognise and support the sector to build back better. Catalytic funding for social enterprise market development and supporting a sector certification framework are well recognised, high leverage ways in which the McGowan Government can support the private sector in building capacity within our communities and industries for regeneration, economic diversification and social impact jobs through social enterprise.
A Social Enterprise is a business that exists to deliver a measurable social, cultural or environmental impact. It derives most of its revenue from trading and it reinvests a significant proportion of its profit in furthering its mission.
Impact Investment sees investors actively seek out funding opportunities that are focused on generating actively measured social, cultural and environmental impacts, alongside a sustainable financial return. The result allows investors to contribute to the wellbeing of the their communities and environment in a financially sustainable way, while meeting their investment objectives.
Types of impact investment include equity/debt or combined grant/equity/debt funding into social enterprises and impact projects in areas as diverse as housing, clean energy, regenerative agriculture, agroforestry; It can also be supported through instruments such as social procurement (mandating a target for purchasing through social enterprises, or pay for performance contracts such as social impact bonds.
- The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises employ 2M and contribute $120B to the UK economy, creating 3 jobs for every $200K of turnover (compared to 0.66 in the private sector). These jobs are disproportionately in the poorest communities, and target those furthest from the labour market. Around 30% (0r 600,000) of their total jobs created are in the most deprived communities, and 40% of social enterprises actively seek to employ people with disabilities, care leavers, ex-offenders, the homeless, and veterans. Last but not least, social enterprises invest more in improving the quality of those jobs. (Source: Big Society Capital (UK) 2019).
- Victoria’s 4,000 social enterprises contribute $5.3 billion to the state economy, employing an estimated 60,000 people. According to an independent evaluation conducted by PwC, the social return on the Victorian Government’s investment in market development intermediaries and social enterprises between 2009-2014 was $3.65 for every $1 invested. It was also found that for every $1 invested in market development intermediaries approximately $0.60 is leveraged from other capital providers.
- Polling of Western Australians’ showed overwhelming support for “ [Covid recovery] economic stimulus measures that deliver action on climate change and make the state a fairer place to live” (Source: Clean State – https://www.cleanstate.org.au/media_western-australians-want-to-build-back-better-polling-shows)