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Innovator Wins Inaugural Steve Lawrence Award

3 November 2014 at 4:01 pm
Xavier Smerdon
The founder of social impact investment group Small Giants, Danny Almagor, has been awarded the inaugural Steve Lawrence Award for making a big impact in Australian social innovation.

Xavier Smerdon | 3 November 2014 at 4:01 pm


Innovator Wins Inaugural Steve Lawrence Award
3 November 2014 at 4:01 pm

The founder of social impact investment group Small Giants, Danny Almagor, has been awarded the inaugural Steve Lawrence Award for making a big impact in Australian social innovation.

Awarded at the recent Changemakers Festival the prize is funded by the Steve Lawrence Social Innovation fund, in memory of its namesake Steve Lawrence who was often described as the grandfather of social innovation in Australia.

Lawrence was a serial social entrepreneur and innovator who played an instrumental role in numerous organisations in the social enterprise and social innovation sector in Australia, including founding the Changemakers Festival.

The Changemaker Festival will now award the Steve Lawrence award annually to a mid-career serial social innovator who is on track to making a big impact in Australian social innovation.

Danny Almagor is CEO of Small Giants, a company he started with his wife, Berry Liberman, to effect social and environmental change through business.

Small Giants invests in a suite of start-up social enterprises, as well as large-scale social and environmental projects and radically sustainable property development. It was also Australia’s first B Corporation.

Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Pro Bono Australia is also a certified B Corporation.

Almagor was the inaugural Social Entrepreneur in Residence at RMIT, the founder and former CEO of Engineers without Borders Australia, Chairperson of Jewish Aid Australia and on the wisdom council for Hub Melbourne.

His contribution to the community has been acknowledged a number of times including as the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year, RMIT Alumnus of the Year, a Churchill Fellowship, and an Australian Leadership Award from ADC.

While all finalists were commended for the quality of their work, the judges said Almagor was the outstanding candidate in terms of the number of different initiatives he’s started, the impact of his work, and his influence as a thought leader among his peers.

The award was presented by Nicholas Gruen, the Chair of TACSI (The Australian Centre for Social Innovation) – the parent organisation of the Changemakers Festival.

The 2014 Finalists for the Steve Lawrence Award were Bessi Graham of The Difference Incubator, Simon Griffiths of Who Gives a Crap TP and David Hood from Doing Something Good.

Steve Lawrence was part of the formation of a range of organisations including JOB Futures, United Way Sydney, Jobs Australia, the Australian Social Innovation Exchange (ASIX), Social Ventures Australia, the School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia, and WorkVentures where he was the founding Chief Executive for 29 years.

Founded in 2014, the Steve Lawrence award recognises and encourages the ‘next Steve’ – someone under 45 who has made a significant contribution to the promotion of social innovation and development of the social enterprise sector in Australia across multiple initiatives.

The 2014 winner receives a $3000 cash prize towards their current venture from the Steve Lawrence Social Innovation Fund, as well as a free postcard campaign to support their venture thanks to Avant Card and promotion through TACSI and the Changemakers Festival.

Sarah Martin was also named  the winner of the inaugural Dreamstarter Award, given as part of the Changemakers Festival.

The Dreamstarter Award recognises an emerging social enterprise founded in the previous two years which holds great promise for large-scale future impact.

Martin is the founder of First Hand Solutions , a Sydney-based social enterprise which conducts tours, workshops and markets (Blak Markets) the first Sunday of the month from Bare Island, La Perouse. As a result of her social enterprises she has been able to provide employment opportunities for Aboriginal youth and adults involved in arts and tourism.

Martin designed and prepared First Hand Solutions while studying in the School for Social Entrepreneurs Sydney Accelerator Program in 2013.

To date Martin has run seven Blak Markets, which regularly attract crowds of around 1300 people.  She has also just employed her first Indigenous market coordinator through funds raised through the markets.  Profits from the markets will also fund a range of community programs.

First Hand Solutions programs focus on teaching participants identified skills, which include strategies to encourage participation, engagement and negotiation techniques within school environment and Indigenous communities. They have a strong focus on engaging Indigenous people to create positive role models.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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