The benefits of social enterprise

Social enterprise offers communities benefits beyond purely ‘for profit’ business.

We recently had the opportunity to spend time with Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK CEO. The Social Enterprise UK website will tell you Peter ‘is hungry for social justice and believes that social enterprise provides one of our very best hopes. He’s passionate about communities creating change through innovation’.

Our informal discussion prompted two interesting thoughts;

  • What if all Australian social organisations such as churches and charities directed a small percentage of their investment portfolios to impact investments – that is, investments that offer a fair financial return while also creating better social outcomes. A very significant pool of funding could be released to support social enterprises.
  • The consumer response to ‘Fair Trade’ products and retailers, and growth in that market, provides a thought provoking example of what might happen if consumers could be educated and shown how to buy goods and services that are produced by social enterprises. A retail market and ‘purpose’ driven purchasing could support a vibrant social enterprise sector, which in turn would provide significant opportunities for people who find it difficult to enter the traditional job market.

Social enterprise offers communities benefits beyond purely ‘for profit’ business. While still a small and fragmented sector in Australia, at SVA we see many examples of outstanding social enterprises. We’re working to help them go on to greater scale, and broader impact so that everyone looking for a job has the opportunity to find one.