There are around 20,000 social enterprises in Australia. Many are small, single site operations and they come in all different forms, including entrepreneur and youth-led community activities in the arts, education, environment, and they can be ‘for profit’ and ‘not for profit’, co-operatives and employee owned organisations.
A working definition could be: social enterprises are typically innovative, market-oriented businesses that devote their activities and profits to tackling serious social and environmental issues and/or providing employment and social services.
One of the largest in Australia is Goodstart Early Learning Centres (formerly ABC Learning Centres) with 75,000 children in its care. The world’s largest is the non-profit Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) with a global operating budget of $570 million. It is 70% self-funded, mainly by its range of large and small social enterprises which are active in over 68,400 villages throughout Bangladesh. BRAC employs over 100,000 people, 70% of whom are women, and reaches over 126 million people.
As a not for profit social enterprise, STREAT provides life skills, social support and hospitality training for disengaged homeless youth, whilst focusing on generating profits from its hospitality businesses to fund the organisation and social program.
STREAT were thrilled recently to receive national recognition by winning the 2013 Australian Social Enterprise Innovation Award. It seems plenty of people are keeping a close eye on how STREAT progress and what they will do next. Watch this space.
Image: Rebecca Scott, CEO and Co-founder of STREAT with their Innovation Award
Image courtesy of Nathan Stolz