Social Enterprise Manifesto launches in Queensland

[Left to right] Steve Williams, Manager of SEED and Chair of Queensland Social Enterprise Council; Susan Black, Director, Projects, Social Ventures Australia; Yvonne Strachan, Head of the Third Sector, Equality and Community Empowerment, Scottish Government and David Brookes, Managing Director, Social Traders and Chair of the Social Enterprise Alliance. Photo: Michelle Bignell

Eight years ago, Social Ventures Australia (SVA) asked me to head up the first Social Enterprise Hub in Australia, based in Brisbane. At that time, there was little understanding of social enterprise and limited interest, but today there is burgeoning interest from individuals, organisations, philanthropy and corporations. Social enterprise is attracting such interest because it brings together the best from both the business world and the “for purpose” world. It is a new, emerging and fast growing sector.

Today in Queensland, we launched a manifesto: Social Enterprise: Doing business differently for a more inclusive society.

There were 40 people from across Brisbane crammed into the board room of Queensland Investment Corporation. In the room there were seasoned and novice social entrepreneurs, intermediaries, corporate and government backers, mentors, supporters and funders. All were passionate to support and debate what it takes to grow the social enterprise sector. Our guest speaker, Yvonne Strachan, a Deputy Director in the Scottish Government who leads its work on the Third Sector inspired us as to what is possible with the right support and encouraged us by acknowledging the social enterprise innovation coming out of Australia.

The manifesto was developed by an alliance of fifteen organisations united in a desire to improve the market for social enterprises. It is a document that outlines five key levers for growth in the sector. It is the first step to begin the discussion on how to grow and mature this sector.

The first lever is fostering an enterprising culture. I have to smile – being in the room today with such a diverse group of passionate people who are part of the social enterprise movement, I think we are on the right track.

Let us know what you think needs to happen to grow the social enterprise sector and if we now need a member-based organisation for social enterprise. Interested in your thoughts.