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Victorian Government releases strategy to boost innovation in social enterprise sector

The Victorian Government has released a Social Enterprise Strategy, announcing $5 million in funding to further increase the impact of and innovation in the state’s social enterprise sector, build business capacity and skills, and improve market access.

With over 5,000 social enterprises already operating in Victoria and employing more than 75,000 people, Robin Scott, Victorian Minister for Finance, said, “We want to encourage more social enterprises into the market by giving the government greater access to their goods and services.”

Addressing the aim of increasing impact and innovation, the government’s strategy initiatives include ‘opening doors for social enterprises’, that is, ensuring that it is adequately engaging with the sector, ensuring its various programs are open to social enterprises and that relevant information is available to them.

The government will also establish a statewide Victorian Social Enterprise Network to grow and connect the community. The Network will include project-based activities and issue-based meetings reinforcing the other strategy initiatives, and supporting engagement of social enterprises with other sectors.

The strategy also outlines a plan to conduct research on the potential value of the social enterprise centre to help inform future policy.

To help build business capacity and skills, the government will help develop a skills program for social enterprise SME founders and managers, and provide pilot funding to test new initiatives supporting the development of the intermediary sector to provide specialist business support and mentoring to the social enterprise community.

Meanwhile, to improve market access for social enterprises, the government will develop a ‘whole of government social procurement framework’, looking to open tender and procurement opportunities to the sector.

Also to be developed is a ‘recognition scheme’ to create a directory of sorts of social enterprises, in turn helping build the confidence of buyers. The government will also create an online partnering platform linking government and corporate buyers with social enterprises, and a series of events across metro and regional Victoria to link buyers with social enterprise.

The launch of the strategy comes as more for-profit Australian companies too consider how to give back to the community.

Among these is SafetyCulture, which has announced a program called Safer World that will see the paid features of its workplace safety inspection app rolled out to charities and training organisations for free.

Companies including Qantas and Coca-Cola have used the app, iAuditor, to conduct over 30 million safety inspections. Through Safer World, SafetyCulture founder and CEO Luke Anear wants to empower organisations around the world to improve safety standards.

“We want to solve big problems for a lot of people. It’s all about making sure people are able to go home at the end of every day,” he said.

Safety regulatory bodies, safety trainers and educators, safety advocacy groups, and charities can gain free access to paid iAuditor features for up to 100 users.

Image: Robin Scott. Source: SBS.com.au





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