Until the 2010 FASES Report, a joint initiative of Social Traders and the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, there was little research about social enterprise in Australia.  This key report found that there are around 20,000 social enterprises operating in Australia. Most are small enterprises, and most have a local/regional focus, though some are large or internationally focused. 

Survey results from the FASES Report suggested that the Australian social enterprise sector is mature, sustainable and internally diverse with regard to mission and organisational structure. Amongst the 365 survey respondents, 73 per cent had been operational for at least five years, and 62 per cent were at least ten years old.

The report also found Australian social enterprises seek to fulfil a diversity of missions and serve a wide variety of beneficiaries. As a whole, the dominant foci of our survey respondents were on creating opportunities for people to participate in their communities, and on finding new solutions to social, environmental, cultural and economic problems.

Australian social enterprises operate in every industry of our economy.  FASES Report survey data suggest that they trade predominantly in local and regional markets and focus on fulfilling their missions at local and regional levels. However, some social enterprises operate in international markets and seek to respond to missions of international scope. Social enterprises are involved in all forms of economic production, including retail, wholesale, and manufacturing. Although present in all aspects of the economy, they appear to operate primarily within the service economy. The two most common industries for social enterprises are education and training, and arts/recreation. They are typically owned by a nonprofit or charitable organisation, or are member-owned.

The Social Traders group classes social enterprises into 7 categories:

  • Intermediate Labour Market Companies: running a commercial business as a method of training and providing work for the unemployed
  • Social Firms: running a commercial business to provide employment for people with a disability
  • Cooperatives, Associations and Mutuals: member-run, member-benefiting businesses which are designed to meet a specific need of members, e.g. childcare
  • Community Enterprises: businesses designed purely to benefit the local community e.g. a credit union or petrol station
  • Community Development Finance Institutions: businesses created to provide access to financial products for people who find it difficult to access mainstream financial services
  • Fair Trade Organisations: created to improve conditions and pay for producers of goods, usually in developing countries, through selling accredited goods to developed world consumers
  • Charitable Business Ventures: an income-generation arm of a charity
Media Statement Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence The Honourable Shannon Fentiman Financial assistance is now available for south-east Queensland’s not-for-profit organisations that have been affected...
The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services' (DCCDS) Community Recovery section is encouraging individuals, carers and service providers in the DCCSDS North and Far North Queensland area to be prepared in relation to Tropical Cyclone Debbie. The likely impacts of a tropical...
Not-for-profit Law has updated its guide to 'The laws of advertising and your community organisation'. The resource provides practical tips to help organisations comply with the laws of advertising and marketing in Australia. Importantly, these laws apply to many fundraising activities of charities...
VAKS is a voluntary network of community organisations and groups who offer sustenance via Vans and Kitchens. Often known as 'soup kitchens', Vans and Kitchens are places where food and drink is offered to the homeless and disadvantaged for free or at a reasonably low price. Commonly run by church...
Case studies show social purpose organisations are reaping the benefits of improved process efficiencies. According to Olivia Hilton, Executive Director, SVA Consulting, “A lot of social purpose organisations just do not have the luxury of spending time wondering if there are other ways to achieve...
Wesley Mission Queensland’s Campaign for Change is looking for the state’s best and brightest innovators. Campaign for Change is a chance for you to make your bright ideas a reality and to make a real difference in your local community. This year Wesley Mission Queensland, with the support of the...
Four organisations in the disability sector share how and why they responded to sector changes by launching an innovation strategy. Three months into the full implementation of the biggest reform the disability sector in Australia has ever seen, Social Ventures Australia spoke to four disability...
The Brisbane Social Enterprise Meetup Group is run by the peak body, The Queensland Social Enterprise Council, which is a democratically representative organisation promoting social enterprise in Queensland. This meet-up group is a place where social entrepreneurs and supporters of social...
The latest national Finding Australia's Social Enterprise Sector 2016 research, conducted by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) Swinburne in partnership with Social Traders, is based on data from 370 social enterprise practitioners, social enterprise intermediaries and policy makers. Looking at...
The National No-Interest-Loan-Scheme (NILS) conference was recently held in June 2016 in Adelaide. The presentations from the conference workshops are now available: Marketing masterchef Are social enterprises the answer? Financial conversations Are you making an ethical decision? The good and the...

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Are you looking for support in Queensland, or trying to find a service that meets your needs? Now you can search oneplace , the service directory hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission. oneplace is an easily accessible directory of community services to help Queensland families to get...
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 Queensland Disaster Management website and the Get Ready website have a range of information and useful resources that can assist you to plan and prepare for an emergency. As part of your preparedness and planning for weather events, access regular weather forecast updates from the Bureau of...
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 a number of exciting programs and tools: The Crunch program is a capacity building program to support you through your social enterprise journey, from start-up to securing investment, growth and accessing new market opportunities. The Social Enterprise Finder is an online...
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...

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