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Melbourne’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year

21 February 2011 at 12:46 pm
Staff Reporter
A woman working to support micro-enterprise in remote aboriginal communities has been named Melbourne Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

Staff Reporter | 21 February 2011 at 12:46 pm


Melbourne’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year
21 February 2011 at 12:46 pm

Laura Egan’s work in promoting and supporting grassroots microenterprise development in remote Aboriginal communities across Australia has seen her named as Melbourne Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

Melbourne's Social Entrepreneur of the Year Laura Egan.

Egan received the award from the Melbourne School of Social Entrepreneurs at the graduation ceremony for the Melbourne school’s inaugural class.

Enterprise Learning Projects (ELP) was started by Laura Egan in response to what she saw as the lack of relevant and engaging training, work experience and employment opportunities available to people living in remote communities.

Egan says the goal of ELP is to facilitate the design and implementation of community based microenterprise projects to improve opportunities for economic participation.

She says the projects are designed in conjunction with the communities and are tailored to their needs and aspirations. To date, ELP has assisted in the development of a number of microenterprises including a healthy take-away business, a soap making venture, and a community op shop.

According to Egan, many people living in remote Aboriginal communities haven’t had an opportunity to experience what it’s like to run a business.

She says ELP provides a safe and supportive environment for people to engage with enterprise and develop the skills, experience and confidence required to develop their ideas into income generating enterprises.

Egan is one of 19 social entrepreneurs to graduate from the Melbourne School of Social Entrepreneurs after completing the School’s nine month personal and professional development program to help them grow their social business.

Since starting at the School for Social Entrepreneurs in March 2010, Egan has made significant breakthroughs with her project. ELP originally operated predominantly in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands (WA) but is now able to partner with remote communities throughout Australia.

She says the School for Social Entrepreneurs provided her with the perfect mix of support, challenge and inspiration. She says this has enabled her to develop ELP into an organisation with strong foundations, a clearly articulated theory of change and the tools to evaluate its social impact.

The Award was presented by the Victorian Minister for Community Services, Women’s Affairs and Mental Health, Mary Wooldridge and Simon Lewis, the Head of Strategic Partnerships, Communications and Community at The Trust Company.

The 19 graduate students are working on a diverse range of social initiatives and enterprises, including:

  • a multicultural hub and café to support skilled migrants in networking and creating their own jobs;
  • a hospitality training program to provide pathways to employment for young refuges and migrants;
  • a not for profit bar that sells exotic beers and wines from the developing world and gives the profits back to a development project in the drink’s country of origin.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Australia is based on the highly successful UK SSE which has been pioneering the development of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise for over 10 years. The Sydney SSE was opened in early 2009 the Melbourne School was launched in April 2010.

CEO of SSE Australia, Benny Callaghan, says that the new Melbourne graduates will increase the network to 64 graduated fellows who have to date attracted $3.8 million in funding for their ventures and are responsible for creating 79 jobs and 360 volunteering positions.

Callaghan says they have seen amazing results from the students to date with many developing the confidence, networks and skills to make their social ventures more effective and sustainable.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs runs a nine-month program that provides personal and business support to social entrepreneurs.

Applications are open for the 2011 program commencing in August and bursaries are available to cover the costs of the program.

For more information on the School visit or Enterprise Learning Projects 

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