A manifesto for social enterprises has been launched this week by the Social Innovation Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Alliance, a coalition of 15 social enterprise incubators and consultants.
The report calls for a thriving social economy by 2020, stating the nation needs new approaches to doing business to overcome the economic and social challenges facing Australians.
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David Brookes is the managing director of Social Traders, an accelerator for social enterprises. He told StartupSmart the manifesto was needed to raise the level of understanding and conversation both in the social enterprise community and beyond.
“The manifesto is a blueprint for the sector in the medium term that calls for a beyond business as usual approach to tackling our current and future challenges,” Brookes says.
Social Traders estimates there are 20,000 social enterprises currently operating in Australia.
Key levers for growth to develop a thriving ecosystem of businesses trying to create social good are listed in the manifesto.
These are resourcing effective capacity and building support; opening markets and procurement channels; enabling funding, finance and investment across the business lifecycle; and investing in research, benchmarking and impact measurement.
The alliance intends to use the manifesto to communicate the opportunities and challenges for the sector to the government, the philanthropic sector and social investors.
School of Social Entrepreneurs chief executive Celia Hodson has been in Australia for 18 months after playing a key role in the United Kingdom’s social enterprise movement.
“It feels the social enterprise sector is coming of age in Australia. I remember when the social enterprise got behind a similar manifesto in the UK and started to really lobby for this approach to become a mainstream way of doing business,” she says.
She adds while they will use the manifesto to engage government and business, the manifesto is primarily a discussion piece for the movement itself.
The manifesto is supported by The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Sefa Innovative Lending, Social Enterprises Sydney, Desert Peoples Centre, Social Business Australia and Employee Share Ownership Australia and New Zealand.