What is Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment.

– (SOURCE: Social Traders)

Social enterprises use the power of the market place to generate social impact and change, they are profitable businesses that trade for a social purpose to achieve a social, environmental, cultural or economic outcome. Whilst there is no legal definition of a social enterprise in Australia, formal certification of social enterprises, as verified by Social Traders, requires that the enterprise meets the definition of a social enterprise in that it:

  • has a defined primary social purpose, environmental or other public benefit
  • derives a substantial portion of its income from trade
  • and reinvests 50% or more of annual profits towards achieving the social purpose

Research from the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University, commissioned by the Victorian Government in 2017, found there 3,500 social enterprises in Victoria, employing 1.8 per cent of the   workforce and contributing over $5.2 billion to the economy. Launched alongside the report was the Map for Impact website, mapping the physical location of social enterprises throughout Victoria.

– (SOURCE: Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University)

Nationally, there is momentum building for a national social enterprise strategy, with a growing number of state-based networks actively engaged in supporting and developing social enterprise sectors around Australia.