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Social Change Champion: Dr. Mark Kelman

Dr Mark Kelman is a veterinarian, independent scientific researcher, and social philanthropist, who graduated from Murdoch University in 2000. His career has been varied, from working as a graduate at RSPCA NSW, in general practice at Sylvania Veterinary Hospital, as Technical Services Manager for Companion Animals at Virbac Animal Health, then as an independent scientific researcher and consultant.

While with Virbac, Mark created Disease WatchDog, Australia’s national pet disease surveillance system that operated from 2010 to 2017, which has collected considerable data and has resulted in a number of peer-reviewed scientific publications, many of which Mark has co-authored.

In 2016, Mark started a PhD with University of Sydney on Canine Parvovirus epidemiology, and currently he is leading a research-and-intervention project with the goal of stopping Parvo in Australia. He is also the co-founder and a director of Paws for a Purpose, a social enterprise charity that provides benevolent support for people with pets, in need of help. The charity raises funds and awareness for various issues including Canine Parvovirus. Mark is also a board director of the charity, Pets In The Park – helping the homeless care for their pets. He is the immediate past president of ASAV, the companion animal special interest group of the AVA and was also the recipient of the 2017 RSPCA Alan White Scholarship! Here’s what Mark has to say about his social enterprise Paws for a Purpose.

What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?

Paws for A Purpose is a charity that helps people in need, and their pets. Our first major project is to try and stop a disease that kills 10,000 puppies across Australia every year and targets disadvantaged communities.

What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?

Every day is a challenge when you are a social entrepreneur! Personally, I’m balancing finishing a PhD with coordinating running the charity, which requires constant re-prioritising of activities, and with very limited resources we need to make everything we do, count.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?

To ask for help!

If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?

Even the things we’ve done that didn’t work out the way we wanted, helped to bring us forwards and have made us who we are today. Despite a lot of setbacks to this point, I don’t think we’d change what we’ve done.

Where do you see the future of social enterprise in Australia?

I see a big future for social enterprise in Australia – and worldwide. Society needs the positive change that social enterprise is bringing, and I think that slowly, the public are catching on to the value behind supporting organisations such as ours. I’d love to see a world when all commercial organisations were far more socially-minded.

What appeals to you most about Social Change Central?

As a social enterprise, there’s lots to learn and so many areas that can be easier to tackle with a bit of extra knowledge or guidance.

The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation?

To find out more about us, please do check out our website. We are currently looking in particular for funding, and commercial sponsors to help us to reach our audience nationally, and so that we can expand our program to try and stop Parvo (puppy-killing disease) across Australia.

And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?

Firstly, we’d try and find the rightful owner 😉

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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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