Growing Queensland’s social enterprise sector is the aim of a new fund that has been created to scale-up activities and create more training and employment opportunities in the state.
Minister for Employment and Small Business Di Farmer said the $8 million Social Enterprise Jobs Fund will develop the sector’s capacity, foster connections and raise awareness to improve market access.
“The jobs fund will harness the momentum built through the support to date and continue to promote a vibrant, diverse and sustainable social enterprise sector in Queensland,” Farmer said.
“It will help the sector to continue to develop and grow through providing grants, promoting potential procurement opportunities and supporting social enterprises to train and employ more Queenslanders.”
Building on a state strategy for social enterprise that was released in September 2019, the fund includes $3 million worth of grants available to target businesses and community and sector-wide development. The government is contributing an additional $5 million to build the sector’s ‘strength and resilience’ and maximise supply opportunities to the state government.
Brisbane’s Mu’ooz Eritrean restaurant and catering business, which trains refugee and migrant women, was one of the first recipients of an earlier round of government grants totalling $450,000. The grants gave businesses access to professional advice and support to establish and grow their businesses.
Restaurant director Saba Abraham said the money went to the development of a marketing and engagement plan for the business, and gave her confidence in promoting the small business.
“The grant helped us create a new product, a traditional sauce that is packaged, and due to the success of this product we are looking to employ another full-time chef,” Abraham said.
Farmer added that the jobs fund would continue to support the Queensland Social Enterprise Council (QSEC) with an extended funding agreement until 30 June 2023 so that the QSEC could continue to ‘provide a key consultative role’.
“We will work with the council and sector stakeholders to ensure that these initiatives respond to the unique opportunities and challenges for social enterprise in Queensland,” Farmer said.
Community social enterprise development grants applications will open Thursday 3 June 2021, with further grants to be rolled out through the year.
This article was first published by The Mandarin.