Non-profit organisation Social Traders has opened applications for its startup accelerator program Crunch as it looks to grow Australia’s social enterprise ecosystem. Social Traders aims to break the cycle of disadvantage and work with startups to build resilience in Australian communities.
“We are seeing an increased awareness of social enterprise in Australia. As the level of interest grows, we want to see new and existing social enterprises succeed, be financially sustainable and generate positive social impact,” said managing director of Social Traders, David Brookes.
“To do this, we need to provide the most appropriate forms of support and capital to help them reach their full potential.”
According to a research report by Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector, 73 percent of Australian social enterprises are small businesses and 34 percent have been in operation for two to five years.
Based in Melbourne, Crunch works with both new and existing social enterprises to test and build a robust business plan and model. The accelerator is seeking to work with eight social enterprise startups, who will enter the program in the first half of 2017.
Since 2009, Social Traders has provided support to 88 social enterprises, 12 of which have received a combined $1.6 million in funding and have gone on to leverage a further $3 million from impact investment and philanthropy.
Along with Crunch, Social Traders is also calling for startups to apply for its Social Investment Portfolio. The Portfolio provides access to patient capital and business support to high potential not-for-profit social enterprises.
This year the Portfolio aims to invest $900,000 of patient capital to up to four social enterprises, these selected startups will also receive business coaching, valued at $20,000 each year.
The support for Australia’s social enterprise sector is growing and particularly well in Victoria. In December last year high profile investor Geoff Gourley launched the accelerator program One10 to invest in and support Australian entrepreneurs trying to positively impact social and environmental change.
“Businesses are increasingly looking to social and environmental benefits in addition to shareholder equity as benchmarks for performance. We need to support these organisations in their infancy to avoid losing innovation to overseas investment,” Gourley previously told Startup Daily.
This year the Victorian Government has also placed a focus on regional innovation with the launch of its independent startup body LaunchVic. A total of $6.5 million is being injected into a wide range of projects to boost the state’s regional economy. Along with funding La Trobe University’s regional accelerator program, LaunchVic has also announced it will be funding a diverse mix of social enterprise projects.
Throughout this year, Social Traders has been working with the government to deliver a total of 16 Social Enterprise Ideation events across both metropolitan and regional Victoria in Melbourne, Ballarat and Wodonga. The aim of these events is to strengthen the pipeline of accelerator-ready social enterprises around the country.
“Engaging regional and metropolitan Victoria through social enterprise provides a positive opportunity to encourage local entrepreneurship to solve some of the most-hard pressed existing social problems with new solutions,” said Brookes.
Image: Jackie Ruddock, CEO of The Social Outfit, former Crunch participant. Source: Social Traders.