Deciphering social enterprise

The term ‘social enterprise’ is still relatively unknown to most. The Wet Tropics Management Authority and the Department of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs (DATSIMA) and Social Ventures Australia (SVA) held a workshop for Rainforest Aboriginal people in early July to help unravel the mystery that surrounds ‘social enterprise.’

Social enterprises are defined as businesses whose primary goal is the common good. They use the methods of business and the power of the marketplace to advance social, environmental and justice agendas.

Many Aboriginal organisations across the Wet Tropics seek to generate new and alternative sources of income and attract investors so that they can be more self-sufficient and less reliable on government grants.

The workshop was attended by Girramay, Djiru, Tablelands Yidinji, Djabugay, Mandingalbay Yidinji and Eastern Kuku Yalanji people who discussed how social enterprise models could potentially benefit their Indigenous organisations.

Participants discussed their business ideas with members of Social Ventures Australia to assess whether the venture would generate profit, while at the same time address the social and or environmental issues in their community.

Aboriginal social entrepreneur Gavin Kum Sing shared his experience in the challenges of establishing and running his social business, Brothers Random Acts of Kindness (BARK), while Janet Guthrie and Stuart Wright of Three Sista’s discussed how they diversified their business to generate sustainability.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owner Shaun Creek said the workshop made him think a bit more about how he could help support the Yalanji community.

“Learning about social enterprise has made me think more deeply about what I can do for the Yalanji mob - especially because we all need jobs and we need more Aboriginal business on our country,” Mr Creek said.

The workshop highlighted the great social enterprise concepts already identified by Aboriginal organisations, but also identified the need for assistance in guiding and development of these ideas to get them off the ground.

Deciphering social enterprise

Published: 07th Nov 2014

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