‘Social enterprise’ has no settled definition but the term refers to a business for a social purpose: using a business strategy to achieve a social, cultural or environmental goal or another kind of community benefit, rather than for the economic benefit of shareholders or owners.  As a business they operate in commercial markets seeking to generate a profit from trade. 

Social enterprises may be ‘nonprofit’, returning all profits to the enterprise itself, or they may be ‘for profit’, returning profits to their cooperative owners, the community, or someone else. However, they differ from a for-profit ‘business’ which has adopted a ‘triple bottom line’.  The social goal is paramount for a social enterprise, with profit/nonprofit status being a secondary choice; profit status is paramount for a traditional business, with a corporate responsibility stance being a secondary choice.

Visit the Social Traders website to find out more about social enterprise research, history, motivations and case studies.

In 2009 Social Traders partnered with the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) at Queensland University of Technology to define social enterprise and, for the first time in Australia, to identify and map the social enterprise sector: its scope, its variety of forms, its reasons for trading, its financial dimensions, and the individuals and communities social enterprises aim to benefit.

In June 2010 the final report of Finding Social Enterprises in Australia (FASES) was released.  

In determining what is meant by the term ‘social enterprise’ the FASES Report defined social enterprises as organisations that:

  • Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit; 
  • Trade to fulfil their mission; 
  • Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade; and 
  • Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission. 
The HESTA Community Sector Awards are now open, closing on 19 August 2016. The awards recognise outstanding service provision, advocacy and leadership in improving the lives of people who rely on access to the services of this sector. It is an opportunity to publicly recognise the inspirational...
Decorative
Here is an update provided by the team in Queensland Treasury. SBBs Pilot Program Highlights 2015 It has been a very busy six months for the program team. Between June and November the program has been established, the team has grown from three to nine, we have conducted 233 discrete market...
Help me with it logo
Help Me With It is an online platform that aims to connect individuals who need help to do one-off tasks with individuals who can volunteer their time to fix, clean, care, shop, transport, garden, sort, teach and more. There is currently no service like this in the not-for-profit sector. Help Me...
Indigenous business month logo
October marks the launch of the Inaugural Indigenous Business month. This is an initiative of the 2015 Murra Indigenous Business Masterclass Alumni where there are a number of events planned across the country. The aim of these events are celebrate and raise the profile of the Indigenous business...
Hon Curtis Pitt MP
On 17 July the Honourable Curtis Pitt MP, Treasurer, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, spoke about the state budget and how it will impact on the community service sector at the QCOSS State Budget Breakfast. You can...
""
The 2016 Australian of the Year Awards are now open for nomination. Each year our nation celebrates the achievement and contribution of eminent Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all. They inspire us through their...
Social Traders Social Enterprise Masters banner
Presented by Social Traders, the SE Masters Conference 2015 provides a unique opportunity for people interested in, operating or supporting social enterprises to benefit from sessions with Australian social enterprise award winners and local and international guest speakers. Program features:...
This Christmas, you can let your shopping dollars do good work too by purchasing presents on the Good Spender website. Good Spender is an online marketplace connecting consumers who want to make a difference with social enterprises. Good Spender is the place to discover the broad range of fantastic...
Social Traders is a specialist social enterprise development organisation. They are dedicated to supporting the development of sustainable social enterprises that are driven to solve social, cultural, economic and environmental problems. They provide social enterprises with access to the know-how,...
Social Ventures Au s tralia runs Social Enterprise Hubs in Logan, Ipswich and Brisbane, as well as other Australian locations. These are an initiative supported by government and business to provide business services to social enterprises, as well as opportunities to network and access resources...
Social Firms Australia offers the skills of business professionals to social enterprises wanting to create accessible workplaces for people with a mental illness or disability. Their Business Development Team can help social enterprises assess their business opportunities, develop business plans,...
Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) has been established to provide tailored finance to social enterprises on commercial terms together with targeted business advice and support. Fundamental to this is a commitment to helping clients build their capacity to manage debt and become financially...
Foresters Community Finance is a non-profit organisation that has been delivering community finance and social investment products in Australia for the past 20 years. It is a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI). CDFI’s are socially focused organisations that use community finance and...
The Community Resource Handbooks were launched by Volunteering Queensland on 12 May 2015. They consolidate the knowledge gained through Volunteering Queensland's community leadership work with more than 2,000 community groups over the past fifteen years. The handbooks are aimed at small to medium...
In March 2014, QCOSS produced the Rethinking Resources: Case Studies of Financial Resilience from Community Services report, in which community organisations from Queensland share how they are working to increase their financial sustainability. The strategies they employ include social enterprise,...
The decision to start a social enterprises is a beginning of challenging and potentially rewarding journey. First, It is important to be obsolutely clear on your social mission, which drives the design of your social enterprise. At the end of day, a successful social enterprise is a successful...
If you're looking to start a social enterprises or you want a deeper understanding of social enterprise, this PDF will be very helpful. This resource helps you understand what is a social enterprise, why engage in the social enterprise model, and how to be successful.
Many not-for-profit organisations are now developing income-generating activities to reduce the reliance on government and philanthropic funding, and others are establishing social enterprises to respond to client needs in a sustainable way. The development of business skills and systems is very...
Social Traders offer two exciting tools The Social Enterprise Builder is a free step by step guide to setting up a social enterprise. It includes checklists and planning exercises to help you through the process. The Social Enterprise Finder is an online social enterprise directory, with over 5000...
The RE Ross Trust published this report in 2007: Inviting Investment in Social Enterprise: A Prospectus Framework for the Social Sector The Trust acknowledges that most not-for-profit organisations must seek their funding from a diverse range of sources - government and philanthropic grants,...
Finding seed capital for a start-up social enterprise is often not an easy process and the supply of this form of capital in Australia is still as yet underdeveloped. Listed below are several avenues that social enterprises can pursue: Business Grants Australia NAB Micro-enterprise Loans NSW Office...
The Social Enterprise Development and Investment Funds (SEDIF) improves access to finance and support for social enterprises to help them grow their business and increase the impact of their work in their communities. The Australian Government is providing seed funding to Social Enterprise Finance...
There are a range of legal structures which may be suitable for Queensland not-for-profit community groups. The four main options are: an incorporated association: Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (QLD) and Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999 (QLD) a company limited by guarantee:...
Social Traders logo
Author: 
Mindy Leow, Social Traders

As the Australian social enterprise sector grows, it’s easier for consumers and organisations to deliver social impact through their spending.

Social enterprises are businesses that sell goods and services into the marketplace in order to deliver community benefit. The...

Community
Author: 
Tiffany Tento, Queensland Council of Social Service

There has been a great growth in the number of successful Indigenous entrepreneurs and community-based enterprises across Australia over the last decade. The estimated number of self-employed Indigenous people has risen from 4,600 in 1991 to 12,500 in 2011. These initiatives are creating...

Report
Author: 
Anne Curson, Queensland Council of Social Service

This month QCOSS releases the Rethinking Resources: Case Studies of Financial Resilience from Community Services report, in which community organisations from Queensland share how they are working to increase...

See videos from StudioQ related to this topic

Share or Print