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Australian Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurs: Best & Biggest Stories of 2021

Here’s our attempt to wrap up 2021 with some of the year’s most worthy headlines about Australian social enterprise and entrepreneurs. Skim them again or read for the first time for some social change inspiration. A big thank you to all those brave individuals who are committed to working on innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. We can’t wait to see what happens in 2022.

Obviously, we couldn’t read everything and there will no doubt be stories that we missed. If you read about Australian social entrepreneurship or a social enterprise entrepreneur kicking butt in 2021, please add your suggestions (along with the URL to the original article) in the comments section.

Social Enterprise World Forum

The Social Enterprise World Forum is Coming to Australia in 2022!

The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), co-hosted by White Box Enterprises, is coming to Brisbane, Australia in 2022!

Social Enterprise World Forum is a Wrap – Bring on Brisbane 2022!

Changemakers from around the globe made their way (in most cases, virtually) to Nova Scotia, Canada for this year’s Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF). Weren’t able to tune into the event? Here’s what you missed.

Social Enterprise in Australia: From the Unconference to the World Forum

The Australian Social Enterprise Virtual Unconference, held in July 2021, was attended by almost 600 people from across the country. Hosted by Digital Storytellers, the event included 25 sessions that encouraged participants to co-design the vision and agenda that Australia presents to the global social enterprise community in Brisbane in 2022.

Road to SEWF2022: The Social Enterprise Unconference

Hosted by Digital Storytellers, the Unconference was an opportunity to co-design the message that Australia presents to the global social enterprise community. In the Unconference format, no central figure wrote the agenda. Instead, the agenda was developed based on sessions attendees requested to run. Essentially, participants chose what conversations they wanted to create or participate in.

National Strategy

Social Enterprise National Strategy Enters Activation Phase

The Social Enterprise National Strategy (SENS) project is entering its next phase of development: activation. With this comes changes to governance and an Executive Director.

New Research: The Time Is Now to Step Towards an Australian Social Enterprise Strategy

Social enterprise is an idea whose time has come. Now more than ever we need blended models that build a fairer and more just Australia and are also commercially viable. A group of social enterprise sector leaders created the beginnings of a pathway for the social enterprise sector to organise at a national level.

States & Territories, Councils & Networks

Victorian Social Enterprise Strategy: The What, Who, How, and Why

Enthusiastically embraced by many in the sector, the Victorian Government’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions released the Victorian Social Enterprise Strategy (2021-2025). This follows the state’s first social enterprise strategy – also an Australian first – that was launched in 2017 and led to the establishment of the Social Enterprise Network Victoria, or SENVIC. Here are a few of the key takeaways.

An $8 Million Helping Hand for State’s Growing Social Enterprise Sector

Queensland’s growing social enterprise sector has been given an extra $8 million to help create jobs over the next two years.

All Aboard the Sydney Social Enterprise Bus Tour

Not satisfied with simply getting together over a cup of tea or (yet another) Zoom call, the Social Enterprise Council of NSW and ACT (SECNA) brought together 30 key leaders to discuss the future of the sector in a slightly unconventional setting.

WA Social Enterprise Council Finds Common Voice to Lobby State Government

Founding board member and impact investment specialist Sven Stenvers argues Western Australia had fallen significantly behind the Eastern States in introducing policy to support community-conscious companies but the private sector was showing more interest.

Toowoomba Social Enterprises Share Palaszczuk Government Grants

The Queensland Government’s Community Social Enterprise Development Grants invests $95,000 in Toowoomba to support a new clean hospital waste recycling project, a commercial laundry, two cafes, and op shops.

Meet the Woman Flipping the Script on What It Means to Be an Australian Social Enterprise

As the co-CEO of Enterprise Learning Projects, Liandra Gaykamangu is using her expertise and passion for social enterprise and First Nations business to share and celebrate the stories of the Northern Territory social enterprise community.

Amy Orange on Developing the South Australian Social Enterprise Ecosystem

Amy discusses increasing momentum within the South Australian social enterprise landscape as well as the importance of moderating ego to become a successful entrepreneur and access funding opportunities.

SASEC Announce New Elected Board and Key Board Roles

SASEC (South Australian Social Enterprise Council) proudly announce its first democratically elected Board and the key roles of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer following its first AGM.

Launch of Council to Build Western Australia’s Inclusive Economy – The WA Social Enterprise Council (WASEC)

SASEC (South Australian Social Enterprise Council) proudly announce its first democratically elected Board and the key roles of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer following its first AGM.

A New Social Enterprise Network Emerges: Welcome Central Highlands Social Enterprise Alliance (CH SEA)

After six months of work to inspire and promote social entrepreneurship across the region, the new Central Highlands Social Enterprise Alliance (CH SEA) launches.

The Purpose-Led Enterprise Movement Is Growing On The Sunshine Coast

Spread around the Sunshine Coast is a growing movement of impact-led enterprises using business to tackle social, environmental and cultural issues – here is what is happening on the ground in Kabi Kabi country.

Jobsbank and SENVIC Call on Victorian Government to Seize Social Benefits of CDS

Without social procurement and inclusivity mandates, advocates say a new container deposit scheme misses an opportunity to be part of the COVID-19 recovery for thousands of Victorians.

Trends, Research & Reports

8 Reasons Why Australian Social Enterprise is on the Rise

Using business as a force for good has taken the world by storm, and for good reason. According to the World Economic Forum, in just two decades, social entrepreneurs have improved more than 622 million lives. They argue that social enterprises exert so much positive influence that they have the potential to transform entire industries for the better. Locally, social enterprise is on the rise and not just for the positive impact the sector is having. Here are 8 other reasons social entrepreneurship is becoming more popular in Australia.

Number of Australia’s Social Impact Accelerators Accelerated: 86 Programs for Social Enterprises

An updated guide to assist Australian social entrepreneurs finds the number of accelerator and incubator programs has increased by 115%.

More Support Needed for Early-stage Social Enterprises

Impact investing leaders calls for the creation of a new organisation to help emerging social enterprises build capability at an early stage so they are ready to raise capital.

New Report Maps Out Australia’s Impact Startup Ecosystem

The Impact Startup Landscape Report found the percentage of impact startups as a proportion of all funded Australian startups has increased from 15 per cent to 23 per cent over the past five years.

COVID-19 Crunch (Booooo)

Social Enterprises Want to Be Included in Australia’s Post-covid-19 Recovery

With the COVID-19 economic recovery spending ramping up, social enterprises want to ensure they are not left behind and lobbied the Federal Government for a commitment.

Tough Going for Helping-hand Enterprises in COVID Crisis

The much-loved Kinfolk cafe closes its doors after more than 10 years as the pandemic cuts a swath through Melbourne’s social enterprises.

Rich Lister Cyan Ta’eed Shutters Social Enterprise Hey Tiger

Rich lister and co-founder of technology marketplace Envato Cyan Ta’eed is closing down her chocolate social enterprise, Hey Tiger, after the business struggled to turn a profit.

Fitzroy Social Enterprise Restaurant Charcoal Lane Closing After 12 Years

Pioneering social enterprise Charcoal Lane restaurant is closing after 12 years of providing hospitality training and employment to aspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander chefs, and fine dining-style Indigenous dishes for its diners.

Social Procurement & Payment by Outcomes

Social Enterprise Procurement Gains Momentum after $222m Spent with Certified Social Enterprises

With ambitions to scale Social Enterprise Procurement around the country, Social Traders announced that Business and Government Members spent a massive $222m with Certified Social Enterprises over the past three years.

Pushing Jobs-focused Social Enterprises into the Mainstream

White Box Enterprises looks to raise the profile of Payment-by-Outcomes mechanisms for social enterprises in Australia.

A New Era for Social Traders

Social Traders create a fresh new look and revamp their website and national directory of Certified Social Enterprises.

Recognition & Accolades

Ethical Enterprise Award and Early Ethical Entrepreneur Pitch Competition Winners

The finalists for these awards were carefully selected by a panel of judges for their contributions to the community and momentum that was garnered from being present at the 2021 Ethical Enterprise Conference.

Healthtech Startup Umbo Scores a $200,000 Social Enterprise Investment to Help Regional Families

Healtech social enterprise startup Umbo, which rural and regional families with speech and occupational therapists, receives $200,000 from social enterprise investor Fortis River to ramp up its services.

The Advertising Industry’s $10 Million Campaign for Social Enterprise Mood Tea

Australia’s media and marketing businesses lent creative skills and donated more than $10 million in inventory for a MOOD tea campaign to raise funds to help prevent youth suicide.

CSI Announces Leadership Changes

Professor Kristy Muir, the Centre for Social Impact’s (CSI) Chief Executive Officer, moves to the Paul Ramsay Foundation after 5-years in the role.

Young Australian of the Year 2021 is Isobel Marshall

Isobel Marshall, who has built a social enterprise to fight period poverty, named the 2021 Young Australian of the Year.

Launch of Bridges Australia

London-based Bridges Fund Management, the most recognised name in Impact Investment globally and the creator of the Impact Management Project is partnering with a highly experienced team based in Melbourne and Sydney.

Stay for Good: Six Social Enterprise Holiday Spots Around Australia

From a social enterprise hotel running training programs for young people with disabilities, to a bush camp run by a not-for-profit wildlife conservancy, these places offer getaways that keep on giving.

Excellence in Impact Investing Recognised at the 2021 Australian Impact Investment Awards

Some of the best and brightest leaders in Australia’s impact investment sector were honoured at the annual Australian Impact Investment Awards.

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Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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