Finding Australia's Social Enterprise Sector
7 July 2010 at 3:18 pm
The Australian social enterprise sector is mature, sustainable and internally diverse according to the final report of the FASES Project – Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector.
In 2009 Social Traders partnered with the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) at Queensland University of Technology to define social enterprise and, for the first time in Australia, to identify and map the social enterprise sector.
The FASES project was led by social enterprise academic Associate Professor Jo Barraket (pictured below). The research released this week surveyed 365 out of the estimated 20,000 social enterprises in Australia.
The research says that they all have a commitment in common to reinvesting the majority of their profits, or surplus, back into their organisational mission and they are a longstanding hidden engine of the Australian economy that has never before been counted.
Prof Barraket says for nearly 80 per cent of the social enterprises surveyed, the way they do business has to be aligned with their mission, and for most enterprises (65 per cent) the goods and services they trade are directly related to their mission.
She says social enterprises operate in every industry of the Australian economy but particularly in the fields of education and training, arts and recreation.
The research found that the main aims of social enterprises are to create opportunities for people to participate in their community and to develop new solutions to social, cultural, economic and environmental problems.
And while social enterprises are intended to serve an extraordinarily diverse range of social groups, young people are most frequently cited as beneficiaries.
Prof Barraket says the research suggests that the Australian social enterprise sector is mature, sustainable and internally diverse in both its purpose and organisational structures.
She says although this survey gives information about key business features of social enterprises, more research is needed to find out how they create employment, what kind of social impact they achieve, and why some succeed while others fail.
A policy roundtable was convened by Social Traders in Melbourne on 30 June to discuss the research findings and future research priorities for this emerging sector.
Both the summary report and the final report are available from www.socialtraders.com.au/about-fases