Purpose of social enterprise and examples

Social Traders describes social enterprises as having one of three goals. Above is a description and list of Melbourne based examples from their Social Enterprise Finder.


The Crunch

On May 30th I attended a Crunch info session at the Melbourne Uni Business School. It was very informative and I got really excited that my project is at the perfect stage to enter into the program. Successful applicants get paid to attend and are expected to put in 2 days of work per week. The program brings you from having a well researched concept to having a fledgling business that can pitch for funding and launch from there. The minimum investment last year was AU150,000, with these being non-recourse loans at 6% interest. Some funding is also provided with no expectations of return (i.e. a donation). There is also a repayment holiday until the business is cash positive.

Basically getting into the Crunch would put you in the ideal position to start your business. It is free, guides you along the right path and puts you in touch with mentors and philanthropists that you would never meet on your own. It would be a dream to have all that for YESS.

Unfortunately, I spoke to the presenter, Lisa, about my idea and she said that Social Enterprises don’t really have any money to spare and that I’d have to really clarify what exactly I am providing them. I don’t know if I can get to this point by July 3rd when applications close, but I’m going to try damn hard!

The next stage is to undertake the ‘Pre-Feasability’ section of the builder, and get my application together. After figuring out YESS a bit more…


Even better than learning about Social Traders, was hearing that they did an extensive study with QUT to create a record of social enterprises that already exist in Australia. This initiative, FASES, produced an amazing array of data that describes the past and present state of Australias social traders. Mark pointed out that this type of business has been in action for a while, just under different names, like ‘co-op’. Many of the traders they have on record have been running for 10 years. There are plenty of other fun facts and enlightening discoveries in the full report, which I highly recommend you download here.

The icing on the cake is their Social Enterprise Finder, which allows you to look up social traders in your area, or your area of interest. Goldmine! I’ll be scanning this list for social enterprises I want to work with. Snapshot of the 5 pages of results for Melbourne below.

Social Traders

I went to a DESIS forum a fortnight ago on the topic of starting a DESIS hub in Melbourne and Mark Daniels of Social Traders spoke.

This is what they have to say:

Social Traders is a small nonprofit organisation established in 2008 to support and encourage the establishment of commercially viable social enterprises throughout Australia. Working with government, community, business and research partners, we aim to:

  • Raise awareness about social enterprise and demonstrate its benefits
  • Open up markets for social enterprise products and services
  • Increase finance available to start and develop social enterprises
  • Build capacity of social enterprises to trade successfully
  • Support the coordination of social enterprise development in Australia.

They define social enterprise as organisations that:

a. Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit;
b. Trade to fulfil their mission;
c. Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade; and
d. Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission.

It was great to discover that there is support and financial encouragement for social enterprise, though this organisation only assists Victorian businesses.