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39 Australian Social Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021

2020 has certainly been a trying year for the social sector, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things in the works for next year. We’re at a point in time where organisations committed to a positive social impact are more needed than ever before. 

That being said, we’re excited to see what will happen in 2021 for these 39 Australian social entrepreneurs, all of whom are Social Change Central members! 

Bianca StawiarskiWarida Wholistic Wellness

Bianca is a proud Badimaya woman who is dedicated to helping people build resilience. She’s equipped with multifaceted qualifications including a Diploma of Life Coaching, Master of Counselling, and certifications in Horse Archery and Equestrian Vaulting. 
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Bianca and her Warida Wholistic Wellness team approach wellbeing holistically, considering all aspects of wellness: emotional, physical, cultural, spiritual, earth connection, and relationships. 

Given the year that we’ve had and the fact that mental health issues and burnout are more common than before, it’s clear that Warida Wholistic Wellness will be more essential than ever next year! 

Erika GleesonAutism Swim

Erika is a key name in the “helping others industry.” Known as “the behaviour guru,” she has been a supportive figure for those with development needs—especially for those diagnosed with intellectual disability, autism, or a dual diagnosis. 

She’s got degrees in Autism Studies and Behavioural Science and, as a Behaviour Specialist and Disability Consultant is in the business of helping others.

She’s also the founder of Autism Swim! Check her out if you or someone you know could use workplace training, functional analysis, consultancy, teletherapy, or a university lecturer. 

Tom DawkinsStartSomeGood

Tom’s a social entrepreneur who’s in the business of helping other social entrepreneurs! Without a doubt, he’s one of the leaders when it comes to the social entrepreneurship space. 

He’s a writer, Social Media Director, and founder/co-founder of the Australian Changemakers Festival and Vibewire Youth Inc. As a self-proclaimed “burner,” Tom’s also responsible for the Black Rock City Farmers Market at Nevada’s Burning Man festival.   

Tom and his StartSomeGood team are competent in all things crowdfunding and are an excellent resource for anyone in need of fundraising (so, everyone?). They’ve got a plethora of free resources, including mini courses. Thanks, Tom!  

Weh YeohUmbo

Weh Yeoh is an impressive five-time founder, writer, TEDx presenter, and professionally trained physiotherapist. He also has a MA in Development Studies. In his spare time (if that exists for him!), he milks yaks in Mongolia or goes on barefoot runs. 

Weh was also 2019’s Third Sector Awards Social Entrepreneur of the Year!

Weh Yeoh recently benefited the Australian social sector yet again with Umbo—an organisation that provides speech pathology and occupational therapy for children. It’s an easy-to-use platform that connects families to the therapists they need.

Ryan TilleyGecko Traxx

Ryan Tilley uses his background in design and engineering to increase mobility and provide access to the great outdoors. The Melbourne-based designer finds his inspiration in nature. He combines his love for the outdoors with the simplicity of the natural environment to create and develop innovative products—specifically in the assistive technology space. 

Gecko Traxx is one of the most portable and affordable wheelchair accessories that opens up a whole new world for people with disabilities. What better time to get outside than this summer?!

Margaret O’BrienYoung Change Agents

With a background in business and international development, Margaret wanted to bring her experience from abroad (UK and Colombia) to Australia. Since 2016, she has been working to bring social enterprise education to Australian youth as the Co-founder and CEO of Young Change Agent. 

When she’s not working with YCA, Margaret is on the board of the Social Enterprise Council for ACT and NSW, an Activator with the women’s investment network SheEO, and a co-convener of the Sydney Social Enterprise Exchange. 

Margaret and her Young Change Agents team helps young people see problems as opportunities. Their programs are designed for youth aged 10 – 21 and provide them with the skills, tools, and mindset to amplify great ideas and turn them into positive change. 

Nicole GamerovMyCareSpace

Nicole has a diverse background in finance, accounting and strategic global partnerships. After almost 20 years working and studying around the globe, her passions culminated in her founding MyCareSpace in 2015. 

Inspired by the struggles she faced supporting her mother, who went blind from macular degeneration, Nicole wanted to support people in enhancing their quality of life. 

MyCareSpace is designed to provide resources and information to those living with a disability, as well as their families and carers. Nicole is passionate about inspiring people to reach their full potential, which is why she wanted to use this platform to empower people to make good decisions about their lifestyle and health choices. 

Luke TerryWhite Box Enterprises

Luke Terry is considered to be one of Australia’s most awarded “serial social entrepreneurs.” Over the past decade and a half, he has founded several social enterprise projects designed to create meaningful work opportunities. 

Not surprisingly, Luke has received many accolades, including being recognised as a Westpac Social Change Fellow, a Queensland Citizen of the Year, and a winner at the 2015 and 2016 Australian Social Enterprise Awards. 

The potential of White Box Enterprises can’t be understated: by 2030, they will have created 5,000 jobs for young, disadvantaged Australians. They’re filling market gaps and partnering with other social enterprises to make it happen. 

Julie McKayEnable Social Enterprises

Julie has more than 35 years of generalist management and executive experience under her belt. She holds a Master of Marketing degree and has spent time working in the retail, government, and not for profit sectors. 

In the latter sector, she’s worked with large organisations like Scope Ltd., Mission Australia, and Australian Disability Enterprise. She’s also founded In The Click, Enable Social Enterprises, and Enable IT Recycling. 

Julie and her organisation are on a mission to break unemployment cycles and support the needs of all job seekers. They’re also tackling social and environmental issues in the process! Their programs (computer equipment testing, electronic waste processing, and pop up retailing) are likely to become even more important in 2021, check them out!   

Nip WijewickremaGG’s Flowers & Hampers

Nip is a driven young woman who’s trying to change the world—one flower at a time. She may be young, but she’s already made waves in the social entrepreneurship world. 

She left her full-time employment to start GG’s in 2014—a decision that has paid off. In 2016, she was named the ACT Young Australian of the Year and in 2019, she was named a Westpac Social Change Scholar. 

GG’s is a socially sustainable florist in Canberra. The family-operated organisation is centred around providing meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities. 

Danny HuiSameview

Danny has a background in management, writing, and directing a consultancy group. More recently, he’s become a social enterprise founder, too! NetDVP came first in 2015, followed by Sameview in 2016. 

He’s on a mission to transform the startup health world—and is doing an excellent job. He’s been voted one of the 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians, an AMP Tomorrow Maker, a Westpac Social Change Fellow, and an Optus Future Maker. 

This online platform connects families with disability care workers. Danny started the organisation after his son Monty was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, unilateral hearing loss, and low muscle tone. He understands the struggles, and Sameview is designed to alleviate them. 

Kym HunterChampion Life

Kym completed a Bachelor of Sports Science before landing her dream job at the Australian Institute of Sports Science and Medicine. Several years later, her passion for physical activity and health led to Kym and her husband founding Champion Life—which was named one of the 2017 Westpac 200 Businesses of Tomorrow. 

Champion Life supports families and teachers in encouraging positive physical health and fitness practices for students across Australia. 

Skye RiggsRipple

Skye has earned several awards, including being named one of the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders for the Asia Pacific! She has an equally impressive background: she was a Youth Development Officer, Independent Consultant for Social Impact, a delegate at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, and she founded Y Vote in 2016 before co-founding Ripple in 2020. 

Skye brings her impressive background to Ripple—an impact platform for young Australians.  

Laura O’ReillyFighting Chance

At just 31 years old, Laura has a very impressive background. In her early days of social entrepreneurship, she co-founded Jigsaw (co-working space) and Avenue (data management) before she co-founded HireUP in 2014.  

Laura is currently the Co-Founder/CEO of Fighting Chance, which was inspired by her experiences with a sibling with cerebral palsy and is designed to address some of the hurdles and barriers faced by people with disabilities. 

Laura has been awarded the Australian Women’s Weekly Woman of the Future and was a finalist for the NSW Australian of the Year.   

Jocelyn EvansRight Foot Forward WA

Joeclyn has nearly two decades of experience in the Outdoor Education industry, along with three years experience as a Youth Worker. She has several relevant certifications and training under her belt—including AUSLAN training, Complex Trauma training, First Aid, Aquatic Rescue, and certificates in both Youth Work and Outdoor Recreation. 

Right Foot Forward empowers people through bush adventure therapy programs. Not only does this provide individuals with knowledge about climate change, but it also empowers them to find inner strength, resilience, and healing. 

Victor LeeCommuniteer

Victor Lee has a background in HR, change management, and corporate volunteering. In 2009, he became the COO of Reachout, Australia’s first online mental health community. Then in 2013, he became General Manager of Knowmore, the largest Community Legal Centre in Australia. 

In 2016, he took his experience and passion for using tech as a force for good to co-found Communiteer (where he also serves as CEO). 

Victor and his team at Communiteer run a crowdsourcing platform that mobilizes volunteers to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges. Sounds like 2021 is sure to be a big year for them! 

Helen AndrewSpare Harvest

After years working in the marketing world, Helen used her infectious energy and passion for a better world to found Spare Harvest in 2016. So far, Helen and her organisation have been well-received around the country and world. 

It has been named one of the top 500 global FoodTech companies and was featured on ABC Landline. Helen has been voted a Top Food Innovator (2018) by Food Innovation Australia Limited and a 2018 Top Small Business Leader by Inside Business. 

Spare Harvest embraces the joy of sharing by connecting communities and encouraging them to share spare time, food, home, and garden gear. It’s free to become a member—and there’s absolutely no reason not to! 

Yasmin GrigaliunasWorld’s Biggest Garage Sale

Yasmin has a diverse background in business development, sales, project management, training, and leadership, and she was an Activator for the female entrepreneurship community SheEO. She’s most well-known, however, for co-founding the World’s Biggest Garage Sale—in what would also be a huge career shift for her, too. 

She created the multi-million dollar sales department from the ground up and she’s a 2x Ironman Endurance Race finisher. Is there anything Yasmin can’t do?!

For Yasmin and her team, the three important R’s are: recycle, repurpose, and reuse! They’ve kept millions of items out of landfills by allowing their community to “activate dormant goods for good.” They’re one of the best examples of a circular economy out there, check them out! 

Pat RyanDismantle

With a BA in Behavioural Science, Pat spent some time working with the traditional owners in the East Kimberley. This is where he got his first taste of community-led projects, which would eventually lead to him becoming the General Manager, then the CEO of Dismantle. Pat was also a Westpac Social Change Fellow in 2020. 

Dismantle is committed to empowering and enabling vulnerable young people through a few initiatives: a bike rescue program and a property maintenance social enterprise. 

Adam LongConscious Step

“The Ethical CEO,” Adam Long has done it all. He’s a CEO of Smarter Drafter, a legal-tech startup. He’s also scaled a marketing agency from 4 to 40 employees, he’s a partner at a consulting firm, he’s been on the board of Engineers Without Borders, and he’s been named a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. 

He’s also a director of Conscious Step. It might be too late for a stocking stuffer, but Conscious Step’s vegan, fair trade, organic socks are a great gift anytime! Every purchase truly gives back by supporting mental health, or providing meals or water to those in need. 

Huy NguyenEnabler Interactive

Huy is a humanitarian engineer and social entrepreneur. He has several years experience in disability work around the world and has received numerous awards, including Australian National Disability Awards 2013, Australian of the Year 2014, and Australian National University Alumnus of the Year 2014. 

As someone who contracted polio as an infant, his personal experience with disabilities has given him a unique outlook—which contributed to him co-founding Gecko Traxx and founding Enabler Interactive. 

Enabler Interactive enables the disability and aged care workforce with the 3D simulation training and assessment they need to excel in their fields. 

Edwina KolomanskiFuture Amp

Edwina is an award-winning Australian entrepreneur and at just 27 years old already has three university degrees! In addition to having a Bachelor in Media Communications, a Master of Entrepreneurship Laws, and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Edwina has also co-founded girledworld and Future Amp. 

Edwina’s passion and experience has been embedded in Future Amp—a platform that equips students with employability skills, career guidance, and virtual work experience. 

Freeda ThongEcopads Australia

With an educational background in Speech Pathology and Autism Studies, Freeda has worked with a variety of organisations throughout the years. She’s been a speech pathologist for BUSHkids and for Youthrive, a social enterprise designed to support the Brisbane community. 

In 2016, Freeda founded Ecopads Australia, an organization that has been featured in global and national publications like Style Magazine and Australian Natural Health Magazine. 

Cloth pads are better for bodies and the environment and with Ecopads Australia, they’re better for society too! Every purchase supports projects that educate and empower women and girls. 

Anna WrightBindiMaps

Prior to founding BindiMaps in 2017, Anna was a consultant, manager, and senior lecturer at UTS Business School. She has a Ph.D. and a Bachelor of Economics and Business and Accounting. 

In the short years that BindiMpas has been in the startup ecosystem, it’s grown to a team of ten full time employees and has received impressive financing during COVID.

For these reasons (and more) Anna has been recognized as one of the top 10 Australian Entrepreneurs to Watch (2019), one of the top 10 Dynamic Australian Entrepreneurs for 2020, and has been a finalist for the NSW Pearcey Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 

BindiMaps is the revolutionary app that supports vision impaired people navigate unfamiliar indoor spaces. It provides people around Australia with safety, empowerment, and independence. 

Jacquie Baker & Jorja WattsChick Tick

Jacquie has been a force in the business world for more than 15 years, during which she worked with more than 700 businesses! In addition to co-founding Chick Tick, she’s also an owner of Silverlane, a Melbourne-based brand consultancy. 

Jorja has a different (tastier) background. She published an Australian-recipe cookbook inspired by her late father. She also has a strong marketing background, including positions with Hey Influencers, Silverlane, and Love Songs Series (the first TikTok series), and is currently a brand manager at Bread Beauty Supply. 

Jacquie and Jorja are doing something that should have been done long ago. Similar to the “Australian Made” logo, their tick is for the female economy! It’s coming in 2021, so stay tuned! 

Alison HarringtonMoove & Groove

Alison is a passionate social entrepreneur who has worked in technology for Microsoft, founded two technology businesses, and been recognised as a finalist in the Telstra Business Women of the Year Awards. 

As their name suggests, Moove & Groove, her latest venture, improves the wellbeing of seniors using technology. A world-first innovation, Moove & Groove provides therapeutic exercise, music and audio programs for seniors, including specialist programs for dementia. 

Alison is also the CEO of 10 x 10 Philanthropy and has recently been recognised as a finalist in the Westfield Local Hero awards for her work in the community. She is passionate about re-inventing the concept of ageing and inspiring seniors to stay physically and mentally active and always remember “you are never too old to just have fun!” 

Kim Rollason-NokesEthni

Kim has more than 12 years experience in the community health and social enterprise sectors. This builds upon a Bachelor’s in Health Science, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Development Studies, and a diploma in Training Design and Development. This background supports Kim as a Co-founder of Mantua Sewing Studio and the Founder/Manager of Ethni. 

Until 2017, Kim was working in refugee and migrant settlement support. She brought this passion to Ethni, an organisation that provides space for young women to come together and form cross-cultural connections. 

Brownyn BateMettle Women Inc.

Turning empathy into action, Brownyn brings several years experience in varied sectors to the table. She has experience working with The Australian Ballet, Pachamama Wholefoods and Cafe (a popular organic food shop in Melbourne), and in 2018, founded Mettle Women Inc.

Mettle’s in the gift box business—but these aren’t just normal gift boxes. They also provide survivors of domestic and family violence with training, employment, and empowerment opportunities. Truly the gift that keeps on giving! 

Lucinda HartleyNeighbourlytics

In addition to co-founding Neighbourlytics, this serial entrepreneur has several organisations and awards to show for her past ten years in the impact and urban design space. 

She’s spent years in south-east Asia improving slums, she co-founded CoDesign Studio, which makes use of community-led approaches to leverage place-based design, and, like some others on the list, is also an Activator for SheEO. 

Lucinda’s been named as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence (Australian Financial Review) and one of The Top 100 Most Influential People by The Age Newspaper. She regularly presents at UN Summits and was on the UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board.

Neighbourlytics uses public social data to provide real-time insight into neighbourhood life. Lucinda and her team may be based in Australia, but they’ve captured data for 12 countries, and counting! In 2021, they may help create a neighbourhood you feel connected to! 

Dr Aviva Beecher KelkClickability

A former social worker who’s newly finished with her PhD., Aviva splits her time between being an Adjunct Lecturer at UNSW Business School and as the head Disability Services Advisor with Clickability, the organisation she co-founded. In 2016, she was awarded a Westpac Social Change Fellowship. 

Clickability is like TripAdvisor for disability services. It’s Australia’s top disability directory and has attracted fans like Richard Branson. 

Mark KelmanPaws for A Purpose

Dr Mark Kelman is a veterinarian and a scientific researcher who is well known for his position on canine parvovirus in Australia. He’s also an educator, property investor, and philanthropist. 

His organisation sells quality pet products and uses 100% of their profits to save the lives of pets and provide people who are less fortunate with pets of their own. 

Summer Petrosius & Andrius PetrosiusKindship

What do you get when you combine a speech pathologist with a serial entrepreneur? You get Kindship—an app to connect like-minded parents on similar journeys with children with disabilities. 

Summer brings a background of ten years in the industry, along with a deep connection to the disability community and an understanding of social isolation and its impacts.

Andrus is a serial entrepreneur who started his entrepreneurship journey at the ripe age of 13! His first organisation was a Dutch social network that amassed more than 50,000 users in its first two years. Since then, Andrius has founded several companies in the blockchain, e-commerce, tech, and design space.  

Denni FranciscoNgali

Denni’s background is as multifaceted and interesting as Ngali’s designs. She spent 15 years working with Qualia Global Learning Network, an organisation to transform individuals and companies to create a more sustainable world. She’s also a board member for the Victorian Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce and is an Energy Coach helping people live their best lives. 

Indigenous brand Ngali features Aboriginal design and slow fashion practices. Their gorgeous clothes respect and appreciate Indigenous culture and our planet. 

Vanessa Murillo & Lachlan PowellI Am Grounded

Lachlan grew up in a household with triathletes and was passionate about healthy eating from a young stage. An interest in environmental sustainability soon followed, as well as a degree in Civil Engineering, then a Master’s in Project Management. He uses his background and passions to handle the product development, finance, and operations aspect of I Am Grounded. 

Vanessa’s background is in journalism and digital content marketing. She’s also Colombian, grew up in a coffee family, and became a barista at a young age (13!). She’s also a plant-based eater and a yogi. She manages the marketing and communications aspect of I Am Grounded (and given her yoga experience, most likely came up with the organisation’s name). 

I Am Grounded is the world’s first functional antioxidant snackbar that utilizes an upcycled ingredient—coffee fruit! Not only are their bars a great way to use coffee waste, but they’re delicious too! We can’t wait to see what else Vanessa and Lachlan will offer in 2021 (there are rumours about a sparkling drink…). 

Darcy SmallKua

Darcy is a keen learner who loves coffee, solar panels, and the ocean. Prior to co-founding Kua, he was a tutor at UNSW, an Australian Delegate at the Y20 Summit, and a PV Engineer. 

For anyone who drinks coffee, Kua is an organisation worth checking out. They create world positive coffee by sourcing specialty coffee (for fair prices) and use their profits to support the farmers with climate resilience practices. They even recycle the used coffee of their customers! If you’re craving a cuppa in 2021, give them some support!

Kerryn Boogaard & Mary WillsThe Wholesome Collective

With a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics degree and several years working as a dietitian, sports dietitian, and diabetes educator, it’s no wonder that Kerryn eventually went on to co-found The Wholesome Collective in 2015. 

Mary’s background is complementary and makes up the other half of The Wholesome Collective. She’s been a home economist for nearly two decades and has managed a cooking school, taught culinary classes, and developed recipes for publications like Fresh Magazine and Australian Women’s Weekly. 

The Wholesome Collective provides nutrition and cooking education for people in disadvantaged communities. By working with vulnerable community members, they’re providing essential life skills to support positive physical and mental health. 

Anna RobertsonYEVU

Anna’s completed the Two Feet Accelerator program, studied Social Impact at UNSW and had several experiences making a big difference in our world. 

She was a design researcher and strategist at Craig Walker, an innovation studio, before working at Affinity Africa in Ghana. She then built YEVU from the ground up in 2013. She’s been featured in Forbes magazine, was awarded the Women’s Weekly Woman of the Future award, and is currently a Policy Advisor for the City of Sydney.

YEVU uses the power of fashion to support Ghanian artisans with fair and sustainable work. After a glum 2020, we can all use a splash of colour in our wardrobes—and they’re one of the best places to get it! 

Dale ReardonTravel For All

Dale has been a marketer, an influential advisor for the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a relocation consultant, and a founder of My Disability Matters. He’s been blind since the age of 17, which has played a role in his most recent entrepreneurial endeavour: Travel for All. 

Dale wants to solve problems to make travel more accessible and inclusive. Based on some of his own challenges, Dale wants to make travel better for other people with disabilities. 2021 travel will be easier for everyone with Travel for All’s resources and information. 

Nick SavaidisEtiko

He’s been a high school teacher, he’s been an adult educator, and he even worked as a real estate agent—but Nick is most well known for his role in social enterprise, fair trade products, organics, and ethical consumerism. In 2005, he founded Etiko, where he is still the director. 

Etiko is Australia’s most ethical clothing brand. Their garments are vegan, fair trade, and made with certified organic cotton. What better way to start off the new year than with an ethical and sustainable wardrobe? 

Social Change Central
Social Change Central

1 Comment
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    August 18, 2023 at 5:13 pm Reply

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