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Five of the Best Social Change Opportunities That Rocked My World

I can’t believe I am telling you this – but I’ve been a social entrepreneur for seven years and I have managed to stay alive for the entire time. If you’d like to give me a standing ovation… go right ahead. 

When I first started, a little florist in my bathroom at the age of 20, there was little to no support available to a young, passionate, bushy tailed and bright eyed person like me. It was a little like sink or swim – a place where I witnessed my nearest and dearest succumbing to the lure of the public sector where there was consistency, dependency and of course…money! As much as we all believe love can drive us through all the woes of giving a damn – at the end of the day, any business needs to make money in order to be profitable and sustainable to then create incredible social impact. 

Seven years into my journey, I have had some incredible organisations step forward and offer to support me and my business, GG’s Flowers & Hampers. I’ll be honest in saying it hasn’t been a walk in the park and I’ve definitely had to work for each incredible opportunity – however nothing in life is free and nothing in life ever comes to you on a silver platter. If you’re willing to put in the effort and make the sacrifices, there are a few incredible organisations willing to invest in you and your enterprise. 

Here’s my list of five of the top social change opportunities that rocked my world. 

Westpac Social Change Scholarship

Did someone say $50k towards personal development? I’ve had the absolute honour of being a 2019 Westpac Social Change Fellowship and all I can say is… what on earth! Never in a million years did I anyone would ever consider investing so much money into my ideas…let alone my personal development and career trajectory. 

From UCLA, to Disneyland to Harvard to Brisbane to Sydney – I have been around…and i’m still going! It’s been incredible to travel and learn and take the time out of my busy schedule and invest in my own learnings and leadership style to ensure that I can continue the life changing work we do at GG’s Flowers and Hampers for years to come. 

Applications close soon, so apply now.

Sunsuper’s Dreams for a Better World Business Grants

What’s better than a big corporate doing good? A big corporate investing in small business doing good! 

My journey with Sunsuper has been truly life changing. I applied on a whim, not expecting to get anything out of it and then randomly ended up winning the entire competition.Talk about a crazy experience! It’s not every day that the sector invests in normal businesses – you normally have to have DGR and 19 million other documents.This is a grant that’s about backing those in small businesses to have a meaningful contribution to the community it services. With Sunsuper’s help, GG’s was able to expand and continue our life changing work to impact many more people with special needs. 

 This program’s ethos is around making your dreams a reality – so go on, applications close on the 2nd of August.

Foundation for Young Australian – Young Social Pioneers 

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) is an incredible organisation that backs young people – no matter your dream, goal or life choice. They are an organisation investing in young people to create the next generation of leaders to be, do and see better in our world. If you’re a young change makers – the innovators, the makers, the dreamers, the thinkers, the doers and the creators – FYA is for you. 

Every year they have a prestigious opportunity for someone to become a Young Social Pioneer. It’s basically an incubator on steroids. With an alumni of over 200 young people who have done the program and built their enterprises, pivoted or even reconsidered – these are the young people shaking up Australia. The program intensively works on developing your initiative and skills, fosters collaboration and helps with your communication with important stakeholders. 

Applications for 2019 are closed, but make sure you apply next year! 

The Funding Network

If you haven’t made it to a Funding Network event yet, you have no idea what you’re missing out. The Funding Network is truly revolutionising the way fundraising is done with a spark of competition and lots of fun. 

Picture yourself standing in front of a room, pitching in front of a room of people that are there to listen to your story and get behind your initiative. They are people that willingly back grassroot not- for-profits and social enterprises to give them a much needed boost. I pitched in 2017 and all the money raised on the night went to expanding our operations in Canberra and purchasing a pink flower delivery van.    

If you’re interested, you can apply here.  

Regional Pitchfest 

I have so much respect for this competition – originally presented in partnership with Australia Post, and now sponsored with the NSW Government, Regional Pitchfest is shining the spotlight on regional entrepreneurship. The brainchild of serial Wagga entrepreneur, Di Sommerville, Regional Pitchfest unleashed a pitching beast inside of me. It is THE program that taught me how to pitch, how to market myself, and how to finally make money. 

Applications are closed for 2019 but their commitment to growing entrepreneurship and innovation in regional Australia will be burning for years to come. Make sure you catch the program next year.

Nipuni (Nip) Wijewickrema is one of our country’s most recognisable young social entrepreneurs. The co-founder of GG’s Flowers, she is passionate about empowering and employing people with special needs from all walks of life.
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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