In the past, Australian startups working in the social enterprise space have chosen to go overseas to pursue growth, with the UK’s social enterprise sector, for example, far more advanced than Australia’s. However, this has begun to shift over the last year or so, with the pool of resources available to local entrepreneurs steadily growing.
Among those leading the charge is Melbourne-based social enterprise accelerator One10, which has over the last year expanded into Sydney and launched two new programs, Activate and Amplify, to increase the number of positive impact startups in Australia through access to mentoring and funding.
As founder Geoff Gourley said, “Social enterprise has been emerging in the Australian landscape for over a decade now, but the past two years have seen a profound growth of social enterprise startups. In a time of worsening social inequality, exclusion, and underrepresentation of cultural minorities, this is unsurprising.”
Now joining the fray to help grow the sector is Social Change Central, an initiative launched by Jay Boolkin, founder of Promise or Pay, and former corporate lawyer and founder of SheWorks, Anne Lennon.
An online platform, Social Change Central is a portal looking to connect social enterprise entrepreneurs to all the different types of resources and support they may need to help grow their venture, from a directory of funds and organisations interested in supporting or investing in social enterprises, information about grants they may be eligible for, lists of awards programs, and PR opportunities. Users can search via type of opportunity or resource, or location, with global opportunities also listed.
Boolkin said, “I’ve experienced and seen firsthand how many of our most promising social entrepreneurs struggle to find the resources they need to get potentially life or world changing ideas off the ground. At Social Change Central we want to fix that.”
As well as encouraging collaboration between startups in the space themselves and bringing together the growing number of organisations dipping a toe in the sector, Lennon added that Social Change Central will look to play an advocacy role, educating and raising awareness of social enterprises among government, corporates, and other philanthropic organisations.
The scope for the sector is significant: according to the Centre for Social Impact, there are more than 20,000 social enterprises in Australia, with these organisations employing over 300,000 people and contributing around two to three percent to Australia’s GDP.
Social Change Central works through three membership tiers: a free sign up gives members access to a fortnightly newsletter, while a $50 annual subscription allows members unlimited access to the directory of resources and $120 a year will give members access to other deals and discounts, as well as VIP support.
Members will also gain access to Social Change Capital, which Lennon explained will be a small fund reinvesting a percentage of its profits back into the community by way of annual grant funding.
You can learn more about Social Change Central here.
Image: Jay Boolkin and Anne Lennon. Source: Supplied.