Six Victorian social enterprises to take the Crunch

Six Victorian social enterprises have been named as participants in this years’ Crunch scheme, a support program combining business mentoring with financial investment.


The program is run by Social Traders, which was established in 2008 as an independent social enterprise development company with matched funding from the Victorian Government and a private foundation.


The Crunch, introduced by the company last year, is essentially a six-month support program combining mentoring and business planning support with financial investment.


The ultimate goal is to transform ideas into viable social businesses. Last year, nine companies participated in the program, which invested more than $790,000 into social enterprise.


Earlier today, Victorian Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge announced the six companies that will participate in The Crunch in 2011-12, chosen from more than 40 applicants.


Social Traders managing director David Brookes spoke highly of all six companies, particularly those pertaining to the environment.


“There’s a clean energy theme in the 2011-12 enterprises, with BREAZE and the Moreland Energy Foundation both hoping to develop a business model for their community-owned enterprise ideas,” he says.


BREAZE Energy Futures Hub intends to establish a commercial outlet in the Ballarat region, providing business and residents with products and services that help them transition to a low carbon economy.


Moreland Energy Foundation intends to establish a financially-sustainable energy services company that provides information, advice and products to the community. Revenue from the business would support disadvantaged groups to adopt sustainable energy.


“We’ve also got TAWASAL, a performing arts initiative, which gives disenfranchised young people from culturally diverse backgrounds a chance to perform and engage with the community,” Brookes says.


“SmartRun is a community transport initiative of Merrimu Services, which is aiming to provide better transport for people with a disability and the elderly in western Victoria.”


“There’s an exciting health idea from an allied health enterprise called Prickle that gives low-income patients access to acupuncture treatment.”


“Lastly, there’s [Co]design Studio, a start-up that provides design services to the community sector.”


Brookes says funding for each company is only allocated once they have gone through the program’s development and capacity-building process.


Over the next six months, Crunch partner employees will act as business mentors, bringing business expertise to each company. This year’s partners include Australia Post, Melbourne Business School and the Telstra Foundation.


“They come back and pitch their business plan to Social Traders and then we make investment offers,” Brookes says.


“In our first year, we worked with nine participants… Of those nine, Social Traders made investment offers to five. There wasn’t a standard amount for each one – it’s based on their individual needs.”


“The other point to emphasise is that we make those offers as an investment, not as a grant.”


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